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NEAR E 586 A: Middle East through Cinema

Meeting Time: 
TTh 6:00pm - 7:50pm
DEN 113
Joint Sections: 
NEAR E 386 A
Terri Deyoung
Terri L. DeYoung

Syllabus Description:


Instructor: Terri DeYoung                                                                       Class Location: 113 Denny Hall

Office: 246 Denny Hall                                                                                      Class Time: TTh 6:00-7:50

(just inside the west entrance of Denny Hall )                               with an optional class session F 6:00-7:50

Office Hours: TTh 2:00-3:00, or by appointment                                     SLN: 19146 (386) or 23646 (586)


Telephone: (206)543-6184

or (206)543-6033 (dept. office—leave message)




Course Description


                This quarter the course will focus on  the function of cinema in shaping communal and individual identities in Middle Eastern cultures, and how they become related to the Western cinema concept of the “art house” film (as opposed to commercial cinema).


                We will examine three films from each of the major cinemas of the Middle East: Arabic, Persian and Turkish The films for this quarter are: 1) Cairo Station (Bab al-Hadid, 1959), dir. Youssef Chahine  2) The Band’s Visit (Bikur Ha-Tizmoret, 2007), dir. Eran Kolirin and 3) Theeb (The Wolf, 2014), dir. Naji Abu Nowar, from the Arabic tradition; 4) The Cow (Gaav, 1969), dir Darius Mehrjui, 5) The White Balloon ( Badkonake Sefid, 1995), dir. Jafar Panahi, and 6) A Taste of Cherry (Ta‘m-e Gilas, 1997), dir. ‘Abbas Kiarostami, from the Persian tradition; 7) Yol (1989)

The course will examine a series of topics through the lens of each national tradition, including cultural appropriation, religious transformation, identity, gender, education and upbringing,  immigration, alienation and exile through film screenings, discussions, and supplementary readings. This quarter we will primarily look at 1) cultural exchange / appropriation (through the Arabic films), 2) the construction of identity (through the Persian films); and   3) immigration and alienation (through the Turkish films)


Since this is a NE prefix course we will only be viewing films subtitled in English. Therefore, no

knowledge of Arabic (or any other language except English) is required


Films will be screened in class during the optional Friday session. If  you can access and screen the films yourself (instructions for this will be given in the first class session), then you will not be required to attend the Friday sessions


Learning Objectives:


At the conclusion of the course, students should be familiar with the following:


1) the development of  cinema as an art form in the Middle East from the 1950s to the present day


2) the roles that have been played in the various national cinemas by independent financing and the influence of “art-house” cinema in the West.


3) the influence of censorship and government sponsorship


4) the technical achievements of Middle Eastern  filmmakers since the 1920s


5) the challenges facing Middle Eastern filmmakers today.


Course Requirements: The grade for this course will be determined through evaluation of the student’s written projects for the course.


Writing Assignments:

                    1) A position paper (at least 2 pp. long) will be due tentatively on Thursday 4  October 2018. The topic of the paper should be  “Why am I taking this course?”

This paper will count for 5% of the final course grade


                    2) A second position paper (at least 2 pp. long), answering either the question 1) “Can we call Theeb an art film” or, 2) ”What role does Umm Kulthum play in the Band’s Visit: is she the focus of cultural appropriation, or is she a medium for cultural exchange?” will be due tentatively on Tuesday 15 October 2018. It will also count for 5% of the final course grade.


                    3) A third position paper (at least 3 pp. long), answering the question which film best deals with the question of identity formation and why: The White Balloon or The Edge of Heaven? will be due tentatively 20 November 2018. It will count for 10% of the final grade.


                     A set of three questions (see handout distributed over the weekend on Canvas for examples) will be due at the beginning of discussion about each of the following films 1) The Cow (Gaav),  2) A Taste of Cherry (Ta‘me Gilas) and  3) Yol.. See the Calendar for exact due dates. The questions will count for 30% of the total grade.

Exams: There will be one exam, a take-home final exam (tentatively due Friday 14 December, 2018 5:00 PM). Students will have the option to substitute (with the instructor’s permission, obtained at least two weeks in advance of the end of classes) a final paper (about 5-8 pages in length) for the take-home final exam. This paper will be due at the same time as the final exam.

 The Take-Home Final Exam or Paper will count for 40% of the final grade.


                    The remaining 10% of the grade will be based on in-class participation. This means that you will be expected to have read (or viewed) the “Primary Readings” before coming to class, and do whatever other reading is necessary so that you can participate actively in the class discussions. Regular attendance records (according to University Regulations) may not be included in this portion of the grade, so it is up to the student to participate in the class discussion, in order to receive full credit for “class participation.”

                      Failure to turn in any assignments or take any tests on time will result in an automatic .3 deduction in the student’s grade for that assignment or test. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that all assignments are submitted on time and in readable format to the instructor.


For 586 Students:

Those taking this course under the “586” number will be required to turn in a paper (of at least 10 pp.) instead of the take-home exam

                In addition, those enrolled in 586 will be required to prepare (instead of the question sets) 2 presentations (about 15 minutes) to be given in class outlining the career of one of the directors covered in the course.  Students enrolled in the 586 section of the course should consult the instructor about these presentations as soon as possible. The two presentations will count for 30% of the final grade.



                The general policies about plagiarism in force at the University of Washington will be observed in this course (this applies to both 386 and 586 numbers).


Course Schedule and Readings:

The exact schedule of course readings will be found on “Assignments” page of the Canvas website for this course.

                “Primary Readings” This section on the Assignments page will identify films to be viewed (primarily on YouTube) before the indicated class meetings. In addition a selection of translated texts will be listed for some weeks of class. These texts will be made available by e-mail directly to students during the quarter. If you think you cannot receive texts by e-mail attachment, please talk to the instructor individually as soon as possible, in order to make suitable arrangements so that you can get access to the texts as quickly as possible. These same Readings should also be available through Canvas.

                ”Recommended Readings” are for the most part available in the Odegaard Undergraduate Library, either on reserve or in the stacks. “

                Supplementary” and other listed background readings will mostly be found in the Suzzallo/Allen library, either in the Reference area or the stacks. You should see the instructor if you have any difficulty obtaining one of these recommended or optional readings.



Recommendations: Professor DeYoung will be happy to write a recommendation for any student who receives a 3.8 (or above) in this course or any other of her courses.


Exam Comments: If you would like to have your Final Exam questions returned to you (with comments), please leave off a hard copy, with a stamped, self-addressed envelope in Professor DeYoung’s box in the NELC Main Office (211 Denny), or make arrangements to pick them up in Winter Quarter 2018.


Additional Credits: If a student wants to sign up for additional credits for the class or do independent studies (including senior essays) in other quarters, s/he needs to contact the instructor as soon as possible. All such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.



For Students With Special Needs: If you would like to request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disabled Student Services, 448 Schmitz, (206) 543-8924 (V/TTY). If you have a letter from Disabled Student Services indicating you have a disability that requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to the instructor as soon as possible so we can discuss the accommodations you might need for the class.

Classroom Courtesy: Since the consumption of food during class often interferes with class participation and is distracting to others, students are requested to avoid this unless they are prepared to share what they have brought with everyone. Your cooperation will be appreciated.

Communications Devices: Please do not use cell phones (or other communications devices) in the classroom. If you must take a call, please go outside the classroom. Laptop computers and tablets can be used in class for taking notes, but  may not be used during exams (no exceptions).



Background Reading: Many new and useful critical works about Middle Eastern cinema have become available in the last decade. The earliest overview of Arab cinema (and still a very useful work) is Lizbeth Malkmus and Roy Armes, Arab and African Filmmaking (London: Zed Books, 1991). Call Number: PN1993.5 A66 M3 1991, available in the Odegaard Undergraduate Library Stacks. This book was followed by Viola Shafik’s Arab Cinema: History and Cultural Identity, rev. ed. (Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 2007). Call Number is: PN1993.5 A65 S5313 2007 (available on-line). Another useful resource (especially for factual information on individuals, genres and national film traditions) is  The Companion Encyclopedia of Middle Eastern and North African Film, ed. Oliver Leaman (London: Routledge, 2001. Call Number is: PN1993.5 A65 C66 2001 (on four-hour reserve in Odegaard) A second valuable informational resource for our course will be Hamid Dabashi, Close Up: Iranian Cinema, Past, Present and Future (London: Verso, 2001). Call Number is: PN1993.5 I846 D32 2001

Catalog Description: 
Analyzes the function of cinema in shaping communal and individual identities in Middle Eastern cultures. Examines topics including religious transformation, violence, identity, gender, immigration, and exile through film screenings, discussions, and supplementary readings.
Last updated: 
August 2, 2019 - 9:17pm