Folklore | Middle Eastern Ballads & Narrative Poetry
F617 | 12643 | H. El-Shamy

Above class meets with Folk-F307.

Fulfills: Area & Form

This course deals with narrative folk poetry in Middle Eastern Arab
communities. The genres of this category of expressive folk culture
are compared to corresponding Euro-American counterparts (e.g., the
English and Scottish ballad).

I. Introduction: The Folk Narrative and its Forms
Key Concepts Associated with Genres and Tale Typology; Factors
Involved in Typological and Genre Studies (e.g., form, contents,
narrator’s intent, media of dissemination, etc. – elaborated in
point V, below).
The poet, balladeer, bard, etc. as culture broker and agent of

II. Narrative Folk Poetry
Epic, “Epic Romance” (sîrah), Ballad. The form, structure, and

III. Thematic Characteristics of the Ballad: Non-Religious and
The Family: the Traditional Structure of Sentiments; Romantic
Lovers; Nationalistic Themes in the Modern State; Societal Events –
Representation of Community Ideals (the Conduct of the Native-
Urbanite: “Real-Man,” and Other Aspects of the Good Man); Humorous

IV. Religious Ballads (and Epics?)
Prophets, Other Prophets and the Virgin, the Prophet’s Companions,
Arch-saints and Saints, Christian “Martyrs” and Saints.

V. Structural and Stylistic Characteristics
Leaping and Lingering, Beginning “in media res, Repetition (e.g.
Climax of Relatives, Speech and Action), etc.

VI. Theories of Ballad Origins
Minstrel Theory, Broken-down Epic, Broken-down Romance, Communal
Origin, Communal Re-creation, Formulaic Improvisation.

VII. Conclusions

Two take-home exams and one term paper.