The Arab Middle East

The Arab Middle East, stretching from Morocco in the west to Iraq in the east, is a dynamic region often veiled in exotic mystery yet frequently portrayed as a source of fear and alleged threats to European culture. Are such assessments justified? What is the Middle East, and does it truly stand in the middle? Through which media do we primarily perceive this region, and can literature offer us a different perspective?

In the course „The Arab Middle East,“ we will focus on naming the linguistic, religious, and political diversity of the Arab world, as well as on identifying our ideas and prejudices about it. Why should we try overcoming them? Based on short texts and videos, excerpts from literary and visual works, and our own knowledge, we will discuss concepts (Islam, war, cultural differences, migration, etc.) which resonate when we hear about the region. We will aim to better understand these concepts and their interrelations with the region by questioning our preconceived ideas. Through the activities, we will deepen our analytical skills and learn to present our impressions from reading to others.

The course aims to gradually answer several areas of questions and build a stronger foundation for understanding Middle Eastern culture through contact with authentic sources from the region:

Where is the Middle East, why do we call it that, and who lives in this region? What is the relationship between Arabic, Islam, and authoritarian regimes?
Why is it important to be aware of how we talk about „other“ cultures and critically reflect on it? What is Orientalism, and how does it originate?
Can we read the Quran, classical Arabic poetry, or perhaps the tales of One Thousand and One Nights and understand them?
How do modern and contemporary novels by famous Arab writers address themes such as war, migration, or the status of women? Can they convey their experience to us?
This course suits anyone who enjoys reading, thinking, and discussing.

Adéla Provazníková

Adéla is a language teacher and an academic interested in Middle Eastern literatures. She studied Czech and Arabic at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University and is currently writing up her dissertation, teaching Arabic and occasionally protesting at the same institution. She has spent several study and research stays in the Middle East, building a deep connection especially with Egypt. Adéla works with the Czech Plav magazine for world literatures and sometimes translates from Arabic. She tries to enhance her teaching skills with inspiration from critical pedagogy and strives towards creating safe spaces at educational institutions. In her free time she enjoys team sports, most importanlty volleyball and football, amateur theatre and reading.

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