Welcome to the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (NELC) at Indiana University, Bloomington. The founding father of this department is Dr. Wadie Elias Jwaideh, a native of Iraq, who joined the faculty at IU in 1960 and served as chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Literatures, as it was called at that time, with exemplary dedication for over two decades. We are thus justifiably proud of belonging to one of the oldest and most venerable departments of its kind in the nation. Our distinguished and world-renowned faculty teach diverse courses on the languages, literatures, religions, history, and cultures of the Arab world and the Middle East. Many of our undergraduate majors go on to pursue graduate degrees in Middle Eastern studies and related fields or obtain professional degrees in law and business, among other areas of specialization. Graduates of the masters and doctoral programs enter careers in academia, foreign service, public and business administration.
The signature strengths of the department remain in the classical and medieval periods of Islam—in classical Arabic literature and language, Islamic studies, philosophical and religious thought, and intellectual history. The thriving Arabic language program with its focus on modern standard Arabic and courses offered in the department on the history and politics of the modern Middle East add a vital and critical modern dimension to the traditional departmental areas of strength. Recently, our temporal reach has extended to include the ancient Near East as well. The successful application for a Title VI grant in 2010 has allowed for the establishment of the Center for the Study of the Middle East (CSME), and made coveted FLAS grants available to us, which now enable us to recruit some of the best and brightest graduate students in the nation. All of these recent developments are among the most auspicious indices pointing to the expansion and reinvigoration of the department.
This exceptional growth trajectory for NELC continues unabated, despite the difficult financial climate. Our enrollments in Arabic language classes are burgeoning—over 200 students are currently enrolled in all levels of Arabic up to the fifth year. We have over 50 undergraduate majors and about 65 graduate students in the masters and PhD programs. These numbers are a testament to the strength of the overall department. Our full-time faculty is also growing in numbers—in the last three years we have hired two senior professors and we hope to add two new tenure-track faculty members by next year. We are also in the final stages of setting up dual-degree programs with the Center for Constitutional Democracy at the Maurer School of Law and the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. We plan to set up similar programs with HPER, the Kelley School of Business, the School of Education, and other units in the near future. Such interdisciplinary dual-degree programs will offer our students enhanced academic and professional options in the near future and create important academic synergies on campus.
The study of the Middle East and of Islam has never been more important and what we do together as a team of specialists on the Middle East has never been more relevant. The expertise of our faculty members is in great demand and many of them serve as consultants to governmental and non-governmental agencies both at home and abroad and are frequently quoted in the media. Our undergraduate majors and graduate students win prestigious scholarships every year for their research projects and to pursue advanced study of languages. We are also exceptionally fortunate in having a gifted and dedicated staff who keep the departmental office running seamlessly.
I invite you to roam our website and familiarize yourself with what we do and what we are all about. Visit us if you are in the vicinity—and consider becoming a part of what we do.
Professor Asma Afsaruddin, Chair
- Congratulations to Prof. Nader Morkus for winning an inaugural Ostrom grant for 2013-14! The grant will support the creation of an interactive project that will allow American students studying Arabic in NELC to engage in collaborative cultural activities with fellow university students from Egypt and Morocco for the purpose of enhancing their understanding of Arab culture.
- NELC welcomes Dr. Abdalrazzaq Moaz, Adjunct Professor from Syria. Dr. Moaz will be teaching a course in Fall 2013 titled "History of Islamic Architecture of the Middle East" (more details to follow).
- Professors Nader Morkus and Asma Afsaruddin were awarded a Mellon Innovating International Research and Teaching program (MIIRT) grant for their project titled "Understanding Arab Societies in a Globalizing World." The grant provides funds for curricular development of the Arabic program, acquisition of new pedagogical resources, and a lecture series.
- Monday, April 15, 2013
7:00 PM, President's Room, Indiana Memorial Union
Eleventh Annual Victor Danner Memorial Lecture, "Rethinking the Canons of Islamic Intellectual History," by Khaled El-Rouayheb (Harvard University)
Read the 2013 NELC Newsletter