Folklore | Middle Eastern & Arab Mythology
F617 | 11351 | H. El-Shamy


Fulfills: Area

Above class meets with Folk-F308

This course deals with `mythological' belief systems and related
manifestations that exist as quasi formal religious ideologies in
Middle Eastern communities. Emphasis is placed on Arab and Moslem
groups. (Other groups may be selected for the student's research).
One of the most salient aspects of `mythology' is how it controls
contemporary radical political and economic movements GLOBALLY.

I. Introduction: An overview of the course, its orientation and
contents.

II. Historical backgrounds to contemporary religious ideologies and
worldviews. "Pagan" religious systems in the ancient Middle East
(Nile Valley--Egypt, Levant Coast--Assyria, Mesopotamia). The
emergence of monotheism. Modes of expression associated with these
systems. Do earlier forms exist at the present time and to what
extent?

III. Semitic monotheism: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. An
historical background. Islam as a sacred ideology and a charter for
living. The development of sects and religio political movements.
The impact of these movements on art, literature, lore, and
worldviews. Syncretism: from ancient `pagan' deity to contemporary
saint/`prophet'.

IV. In depth study of the "mythology" of select M.E. groups:
Creation, God, Cosmology, Supernatural Beings and Powers,
Supernatural Places (Utopias). Legendary-mythical figures. Forms of
expressing the `mythic', holy texts, epics, etc. Other analytical
devices (e.g., Tale-types, motifs).

V. The structure and composition of the belief-practice spectrum as
cognitive-affective system.

Exams: Two--Take home (and objective).

Term paper: One (to be discussed on individual basis).