Home > Uncategorized > Arabic Novel Seminar has begun!

Arabic Novel Seminar has begun!

After months of applying, making arrangements, waiting, reading, etc., things are happening.  And they’re happening pretty much in accordance with my plans, which always gives me a rather surreal feeling.  (Why is it that I plan so faithfully yet have so little faith in plans working out)?   Anyway, I’m figuring out how to live in this entirely new environment: a beautiful, green campus, an air conditioned dorm room, an interesting collection of strangers around me.  At the moment I’m surrounded by bare white walls, a single bed, a dresser, desk and closet–my dorm room.  It’s blessedly cool, if not homey.  I found the dining hall and ate 2 meals there; for dinner I headed to Gladwyne for some family time with my brother, his wife, and their four children.  I managed to squeeze into my niece’s bathing suit and jumped into the pool to play games.

The first two seminar sessions were rewarding.  What an interesting, varied group of teachers!  There are several of us from independent schools (Ann Arbor and Wilmington, DE), some from small, poor, rural schools (South Dakota, Hoke County, NC, West Virginia), and others from urban settings: Oakland, Orlando, Omaha, East Los Angeles (“the gangster crowd” is easier to manage than well heeled parents!). 

Roger Allen, the professor, is so impressive.  He’s chairman of Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations at Penn.  He has done lots of translations, knows a number of Arabic authors personally, is president of the Middle East Studies Associaition, and advises the Nobel prize committee.  It’s interesting to ponder the origins of this illustrious career.  Early in his Oxford studies, he decided he’d had enough of Classics, and he was allowed to pursue a language other than Greek or Latin.  He basically chose Arabic out of a hat.

We formed groups to present information and lead discussion about the five novels after Tayeb Salih’s on the syllabus.  I’m in the group assigned to Miramar.  We’ll be the first to go, and we have to be ready on Friday morning.   There’s time to think about that after tomorrow’s classes, though.  I need to review A Season of Migration and read some critical articles.

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