Arabic Language and Literature
- Department Interdisciplinary
- Academic Division The College
- Offerings Coursework
The Arabic curriculum at W&L is designed to reflect the rich linguistic literary and cultural diversity of the Middle East. In the classroom we adopt a learner-centered approach that encourages students to actively engage with speaking, listening, reading, and writing Arabic.
Arabic at W&L adopts a communicative approach to language learning, training students in Modern Standard Arabic and the Levantine vernacular simultaneously. In this globalized century, proficient students can pursue careers in diplomacy, education, business, law, interpretation/translation, journalism, intelligence and more.
Arabic at W&L is housed in the Middle East and South Asia (MESA) Studies Program. Students may focus on Arabic language if they minor in Middle East and South Asia Studies with Language Emphasis (MESAL).
In addition to first-, second- and third-year Arabic, courses include Special Topics in Arabic Culture and Literature, as well as Directed Individual Study.
“Arabic at W&L has always challenged me but has kept me engaged every step of the way through diverse ways of learning and relevant content.”Jonathan Pezzi
Class of 2019
Arabic professor Anthony Edwards recently published a paper titled “Becoming the Muʿallim: how tradition and innovation made a Nahḍa icon.”
Washington and Lee's Center for International Education awarded two students funding to study Arabic at the University of Jordan this summer.
Six undergraduate students received Critical Language Scholarships, which will provide them the opportunity to study language intensively during summer 2022.
Estrada Hamm recently received a David L. Boren Scholarship from the National Security Education Program to study abroad in Jordan.
Tanner Hall ‘21 was recently awarded a fellowship to the Center for Arabic Study Abroad program at the American University in Cairo.
At W&L, we believe education and experience go hand-in-hand. You’ll be encouraged to dive in, explore and discover connections that will broaden your perspective.
First-year Arabic is an introductory course in written and spoken Arabic, focusing on basic grammar and speaking. Aspects of Arab culture are introduced.
Second-year Arabic builds on grammar and vocabulary knowledge and emphasizes speaking and writing, as well as listening comprehension and reading. Students are introduced to popular Arab culture.
Third-year Arabic expands on grammar concepts and vocabulary knowledge with practical applications of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Social and political aspects of Arab culture are introduced.
A language-focused course that provides students with vocabulary and discourse structures common in today’s Arabic media coverage. Weekly topics are culled from various news outlets (e.g., Al-Jazeera, AJ-Arabiyya, BBC Arabic, YouTube, AJ-Ahram, An-Nahar, AI-Dustour) which serve to familiarize students with a broad range of current sociopolitical, economic and cultural issues.
Special Topics in Arab Lit & Culture
An advanced seminar on a particular author, period or genre. Topics may include Arab Short Stories, Classical Arabic Poetry, Travelogues in Arabic Literature, Arabic Pop Culture and Music, and Arabic Media. The subject changes annually. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.
Arab World Through Film
The geopolitical importance of the Arab world and the legacy of Orientalism reduce “the Arab” and the region to stereotypes and misrepresentations. In order to challenge these depictions, this course asks: “How does Arab cinema represent contemporary Arab society?” The course introduces the student to the vibrant and dynamic cultures of the Arab world through the medium of film. We will analyze, uphold, and challenge issues of social and cultural significance in the region. We will examine portrayals of “the Arab” and “the Middle East” in the American cinema, study the history of Arab cinema, and explore the techniques that Arab filmmakers employ to represent their social, political, and religious world.
Taught in Arabic, this course serve as an introduction to three Arabic dialects, in particular those used in Morocco, Egypt, and the Emirates. Students learn the sounds, key vocabulary, and sentence structures particular to these dialects, and develop their listening comprehension abilities and communication skills. This practical course is designed to prepare students to engage in authentic interactions with Arabic speakers in North Africa and the Middle East.
Meet the Faculty
At W&L, students enjoy small classes and close relationships with professors who educate and nurture.
Jumana S. Al-Ahmad
Visiting Assistant Professor of Arabic
Jumana Al-Ahmad’s research focuses on the intersection of religion, culture and human rights with attention to the thought and activism of women intellectuals in Tunisia and across the Maghrib. She teaches Arabic language, as well as courses on Islamic feminism, social justice, and Qur’anic studies.
Anthony (Antoine) Edwards
Assistant Professor of Arabic
Edwards teaches courses in Arabic at all levels as well as a course on the Arab world through film. His research centers around Arabic language and grammar as well as the histories and ideologies of Arabic.
More to Explore
Students studying Arabic at Washington and Lee may apply for special scholarships or take part in study abroad, internships and co-curricular or extracurricular activities.
See the World
Study abroad at American University in Dubai (AUD) (Dubai, UAE); the American University of Beirut (AUB); the American University in Sharjah (AUS) (Sharjah, UAE); CET (Amman, Jordan); CIEE (Amman, Jordan); AALIM (Meknes, Morocco); AMIDEAST (Morocco, Jordan).
Arabic students at W&L have worked in a variety of internships in politics, diplomacy, education, journalism, business, marketing, law or intelligence.
All Arabic students are invited to participate in movie nights, calligraphy lessons, cooking lessons, dance lessons, spoken word night, occasional guest speakers and the annual WLUArabic Lunch.
Students may also work with the Association for Middle East Interests (AMEI), a campus student group dedicated to informing the student body and Rockbridge-area community about the Middle East.