Folklore | Middle East & Arab Mythology
F617 | 23641 | El-Shamy
Meets with F307. This course introduces the Middle East and the
various facets of lore associated with it. It is composed of four
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 presentations).
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.