Folklore | Arab and Middle Eastern Mythology
F307 | 5750 | El-Shamy
Meets with F617. This course introduces the Middle East and the
various facets of lore associated with it. It is composed of four (4)
I. Introduction: The field of folklore as it applies to "The
Middle East" --What is meant by "folklore" and its relation to other
levels/categories of Middle Eastern cultures. --Peoples and cultures
of the Middle East --A brief overview of Middle Eastern Religions
II. Areas, Fields, and Genres of Middle Eastern Folklore: --
Introducing such concepts as: Oral Literature, Verbal Art, Folk
Beliefs, Rituals, and Religion, Mythology, Festivals, Folklife
Studies, Material culture, Folk Art, Folk Architecture, etc.
III. Folklore theories and Mythology
-- A brief survey of the literature
-- The Generic characteristics of "myth" as compared to other
categories of narrative lore.
IV. In-depth Treatment of Select Forms, Fields, and Genres.
Emphasis is placed on Verbal, Social, and Mental/affective aspects of
lore: The folk narrative and its genres, The major anthologies (e.g.,
1001 Nights, Kaleelah and Dimnah/Panchatantra, etc.); the proverb and
the riddle; folk poetry and narrative poetry; folk healing rituals,
etc. (You may treat any Middle Eastern group, or emphasize other
facets of lore that may not receive sufficient coverage in class
V. Your Own Work/Research in a Middle Eastern Field, Country, or
Social Group of Your Choosing. (E.g., Pharaonic Egypt, Jewish tales
from Yemen, Zoroastrians, rug-weaving, dancing, etc.)
Requirements: Interest in the Middle East, traditional culture and
folklore, and willingness to think.
Hasan El-Shamy. A Handbook of Arab Mythology. (ABC-CLIO, 2002 ??)
Other Reference Works:
Hasan El-Shamy. Tales Arab Women Tell, and the Behavioral Patterns
they Portray. (Indiana University Press, 1999).
H. El-Shamy. Folktales of Egypt ... with Middle Eastern and African
Parallels (U. of Chicago Press, 1980).
T. T`. Sebeok. Myth: a Symposium. (1958).
Handouts: "The outline of culture," "Culture Areas of The Middle
East," "TEXTS" etc.
Examinations: 2 exams--(Take home)
Paper: One term paper.
*Work with Arabic texts (classic or dialectical) can be arranged on
individual bases for students interested in the language aspect of
the data treated.