Thursday, May 13, 2010

Earth Calling the University of Oregon...

Arabic Literature (In English) is a wonderful blog about what Arabic literature can be found for those of us who love it but don't read Arabic well enough to be able to read it in the original. The title here links to one of those head scratching posts about people and places whose logical processes seem to be missing a few cogs. The University of Oregon has an Arabic language department that is being moved to the Religous Studies school. Huh? I live all day in Arabic and never talk about religion at all. You can follow the connection in the blog post to the original student news report about the switch and the confusion it has engendered.

Arabic is a language spoken in many, many dialects and accents in many countries in this world. Classical Arabic is the form that is the Arabic of the Quran and the Arabic that all countries recognise as being the purest form. It is, however, not just a language of religion. The comment from the university that "Arabic is being folded into the religious studies department because the department can support Arabic students reading advanced literature and documents, most of which are Islamic in nature" totally ignores the fact that Egyptian author Naguib Mahfouz was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature and that there are many marvelous novels being written and published in Arabic all the time. To assume that "advanced texts" are religious in nature demonstrates a total lack of comprehension of the the Arab world.

Gongratulations, University of Oregon. You win this month's dolt award.

copyright 2010 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani