ARA4505 – Arabic Cyberspace

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

In the Arab world as elsewhere, the internet is an increasingly important medium for negotiating and influencing politics, social relations, cultural expressions, and the economy. This course surveys various aspects of internet use in the Arab world. Precise focus of the course may shift over time to reflect current dynamics and both teachers’ research and students’ interests. Possible areas covered include: majority use (“what is most popular?”), democratization, political activism, participatory culture, cultural production, individual expression, private life, economic development, e-government, etc.). Internet use is contexualized and historicized, and tools to analyze the background of sites will be introduced. On the one hand, the course will investigate features the Arabic online sphere shares with other regions of the world and on the other hand it will deal with specifics of Arabic internet use.


Autum 2014

This semester a particular focus will be given to how the Internet is changing Arab cultural production. Cultural websites, literary forums, autofictional blogs, e-publishing houses, Youtube poetry, stand up comedies and Twitter short stories from several Arab countries will be presented and discussed in class. Possible areas of discussion include: majority use (“what is most popular?”), cultural democratization, relation between aesthetic and politics, blurring of private/public sphere, individual expression and community building, and language change. Students will have the possibility to focus on a specific country of production or a specific genre or topic, according to their own interests. Students will have the possibility to carry research on material that is still under researched so far, to develop original thinking and contribute to the expanding field of Digital Cultures which is attracting more and more interest in academia and society at large.

Learning outcome

• Based on current research accessible through secondary literature and on the analysis of select cases, students will be able to assess the use and impact of select aspects of the internet in the Arab world.
• They will be acquainted with using basic tools for analyzing online activity.
• They will have trained their ability to critically read and discuss the work of others.
• They will have learned to formulate their own research interests, develop hypotheses, select a specific case for closer study to investigate these hypotheses, decide on a method to investigate this case, and present results of their analysis in oral and written form in an academic style.
• Master students of Arabic will be able to interact on the internet in Arabic (incl. read and write access), and they will have improved their reading and listening proficiency in Modern Standard Arabic and/or written as well as oral forms of colloquial Arabic.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

Admission as a Master student to the Program for Asian and African Studies.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

For master students in Arabic: ARA2110 – Arabisk språk 3+4 (discontinued) or equivalent.
The course is also open to master students from other programs who do not have knowledge of Arabic.

Recommended previous knowledge

Master students in Arabic should to be able to read modern Arabic newspaper texts at reasonable speed, and have general computer and internet literacy. Most secondary sources are in English, but reading ability in French, German and Scandinavian languages may be advantageous, depending on students’ specific research interests. In coordination with the teacher, the course may be opened to Master students who are not focussing on Arabic language; they will be given assignments in accordance with their research focus.


Autum 2014 the teaching will be given in the first half of the semester with 2x2hours seminars every week. The seminars will focus on introductory presentations (by teacher and students) and reading of Arabic (and where appropriate, other language) texts taken from relevant Internet sites. Selection of primary reading material will reflect the breadth of sites analyzed, but also take into account participants' particular topical interests. In addition to reading ca. 30 pp. of secondary literature per week, students must be ready to spend ca. 3 hours per week exploring relevant Internet sites.

Every student will adopt one Arab subject/blog/website to follow in closer detail throughout the semester, and compose an oral presentation as well as a semester assignment reflecting on specific phenomena according to the topic of choice. A first draft of the planned assignment should be submitted within the first three weeks of the course.


Term paper (semesteroppgave) (8-10 pp. à 2300 characters) on a topic to be agreed upon. Before the final version can be submitted, it must be presented and discussed orally in class, accompanied by a 1-p. pointed “thesis paper” handout. This presentation, and where relevant, the weekly Fronter assignments, must be approved in order for the term paper to be considered.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Mid-term evaluation

Periodic evaluation

Facts about this course






Every autumn


Every autumn

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