In this FIG, students will learn the basics of both the Arabic language and the religion of Islam, in both historical and contemporary contexts. The connections course will discuss underlying themes relevant to both classes, and also make use of films from the Arab world to illustrate the Arabic language and representations of Arab Muslim identity in diverse contexts. The knowledge students will gain in this FIG will be useful for employment in such fields as development, journalism, non-government organization work, government, international business, and international law. Not only that, but this knowledge is key to a well-rounded liberal arts education, especially given the current political climate nationally and internationally.
College Connections Faculty: Rick Colby and Hanan Elsherif
Dr. Rick Colby is Associate Professor and Head of the Religious Studies department. He was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, and attended undergrad at a small liberal arts college in Philadelphia, where his interests in Arabic and Islamic Studies were first kindled. After graduation, he traveled in and around Egypt for a year on a Thomas J. Watson fellowship, getting to know Egyptian coffeehouse culture and practicing Egyptian dialect. He then completed a Master's degree at the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in Religion from Duke University.
During his dissertation research, Rick spent over a year researching medieval Arabic manuscripts in Damascus, Istanbul, Cairo, London, Paris, and Berlin, partly supported by a Fulbright Fellowship to Syria. He taught for six years in a Comparative Religion department at Miami University before arriving at the U of O in 2008, where he received tenure in his first year here. Rick and his wife Penny live in Eugene with their canine children Murphy and Chico, and their feline children Trillian and Galadriel.
Hanan Elsherif received her PhD in 2009 from Minia University. Her research critically analyzes the media coverage of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. She co-edited the translated, “Culturalization: A comparative literary criticism study of T.S. Eliot and S. Abdulsabour’s poetry” published by General Egyptian Book Organization in 2004. Her research interests include Critical Discourse Analysis, Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language (TAFL)/Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL), and translation and interpretation. She taught Arabic at the University of Utah from 2005-2007 and Texas A&M from 2007-2009. She was also a ESL instructor in Egypt for over ten years.
FIG Assistant: Sammy Bazant
Hello Yalla Arabia! students! Your summer assignment is to read the first chapter from Dr. Carl Ernst's book entitled Following Muhammad as well as to watch the film by Sut Jhally and featuring Dr. Jack Shaheen, entitled "Reel Bad Arabs" available here on YouTube:
After you read the chapter and watch the video, the written assignment is for you to compose a one-page journal entry, single-spaced, in which you reflect on, compare, and evaluate the arguments that Ernst and Shaheen make about common stereotypical depictions of Arabs and Muslims (keeping in mind that not all Arabs are Muslims) in the United States.
The following questions might guide your exploration of these two works:
- What do you take to be Ernst and Shaheen's main argument(s) in what you read or watched of their works?
- What do they each point to as the major source(s) behind the stereotypes they identify?
- What parts of their presentations do you agree with, and what parts do you disagree with?
- What other types of explanations for the stereotypes do you think deserve further consideration?
Your one-page journal entry should be saved as a Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) or Word-compatible file, and brought with you as either a digital or hard copy to the first FIG meeting.
Week of Welcome FIG Meeting
The first meeting for the FIG is Friday, September 22nd at 11:00 am in Columbia 150. Please arrive on time as we will be relocating shortly after.