What are Streams?

This class is divided into five streams in order to allow students to specialize their work for the course more specifically. This allows students who wish to follow one stream throughout the semester to choose assignments and orientations towards readings in that way. For example, if you are taking this class for Arabic credit, or for your Women’s Studies degree, you should choose all of your assignments in that stream. If you wish to use the streams to work more broadly, that is fine too. This means you can do a bit of each thing.

At times, I will ask students to work within the stream format to prepare readings for class discussion as well. I can make this clear at any time, though not every class will necessarily have five different and distinct orientations or ways in which to organize our thinking.

Moreover, the streams are also quite different from each other. Two are linguistically orientated and encourage students to work with texts in languages other than English (French and Arabic). But the Translation Studies stream also may overlap with those at many points. It is focused more on thinking theoretically about translation, but at times draws upon practical translation knowledge. The literary theory stream is meant for students who want to do more rather than less theory—these students should be reading all of assigned theoretical works in depth and so on. The Feminism/Gender/Women’s Studies streams possibly can also overlap all or any of the others, but focuses on critical thinking in this direction.

The Five Streams Are:

Working with texts in Arabic

Working with texts in French

Gender/Women’s Studies/ Feminism

Translation Studies

World Literary Theory

Essay Topics for Each Stream

The suggested essay topics for each stream, each assignment are listed below. I am open to people working in pairs or small groups on these projects and possibly to modification of the topics (within the same spirit of the assignments…) See me with these suggestions.

Essay #1, January 29, One Book, Many Communities, Mornings in Jenin


AT: Translate one paragraph from Mornings in Jenin into Arabic and discuss your translation choices, particularly difficult words and concepts.


FT: Compare one paragraph in the French translation with the English original … (If this is not possible, i.e. not the book is not available, translate one paragraph into French and discuss your choices, particularly difficult words and concepts and how you deal with Arabic words)


G/WS/F: For many women in the Third World, and Palestinian women in particular, feminism has been pitted against nationalism as a conflict many women experience, and often reject as a false distinction. How are these issues navigated in Mornings in Jenin?
TS: Think about ways in which Mornings in Jenin might read “as” a translation using the development of this concept in Michelle Hartman’s Native Tongue Stranger Talk. You can compare (or not) to the way in which Abulhawa uses Arabic in her English text to how Lebanese authors use Arabic in French texts.


WL: Use two or more theoretical pieces on World Literature (assigned for the class or beyond these, see me for suggestions if you like). Develop an argument for or against reading Mornings in Jenin in relation to the concept/s of world literature developed within them.



Essay #2, February 18, Travelling in Texts, Other Lives


AT: Read the text in Arabic and English (or French) and discuss how it travels between languages. You may choose specific examples of language choice/ and translation choices or make a more general argument about “travel.” But if you are general in your argument, you should still give specific examples to back up this argument.
FT: Analyze the reception of D’Autres Vies in French, using reviews and articles about the novel, either on its own or in comparison to English/Arabic. Pay particular attention to the concept of travel and the way this is discussed or not in the novel’s reception.

G/WS/F: How is the theme of travel gendered in Other Lives? In what ways does this make it a feminist novel? What are the possibilities for defining a feminism through travel in Other Lives?


TS: In what way/s is the translator “visible” in Other Lives (or D’Autres Vies), in the sense meant by Venuti in the The Translator’s Invisibility? Give specific examples of how you see this working.


WL: Use David Damrosch’s definition of World Literature (from What is World Literature?), roughly, that it means texts that travel outside their country of origin… but that it is not a canon of work but a reading method. Discuss how this can be useful in terms of thinking about Other Lives.



Essay #3, March 9, Travelling Texts in Translation, All That’s Left to You

AT: Translate the following passage into English and discuss your choices.

(Cut and paste passage)


FT: Discuss the translation of the following passage (compare to English or Arabic, depending on ability) (Cut and paste passage)


G/WS/F: What are the possible feminist readings of All That’s Left to You? Feminist critiques? In what ways is this a relevant reading method for such a novel and why or why not?


TS: Compare two translations of the following passage in English (using Arabic if possible) and draw upon translation theory (see me if you need sources) to build your critique. (Cut and paste passage)


WL: Discuss how All That’s Left to You can be read productively with Aamer Mufti’s article on Orientalism and World Literature



Essay #4, March 23, Colonialism in Palestine, I Saw Ramallah/ Spectres


AT: Compare a specific passage in Arabic and English (250-500 words) and discuss choices made by translator. Use either book.

FT: What other books is J’ai vu Ramallah compared to in its French-language reception and how do you explain this in relation to what you have read of World Literature as a theory and concept thus far this semester?


G/WS/F: How does the double narrator used by Radwa Ashour in Spectres complicate the notion of a singular female subject? What are the creative/aesthetics/political possibilities for this technique? How does Ashour use them in these ways?


TS: How is the translation of I Saw Ramallah discussed in its reception in English, given its translator is a famous British Egyptian novelist? Discuss this dynamic.


WL: What other books is I Saw Ramallah compared to in its English-language reception, and how do you explain this in relation to what you have read of World literature as a theory and concept thus far this semester? (or Spectres if you prefer)


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