MØNA1300 – History of Literature in The Modern Middle East

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Course content

The course provides an introduction to modern Middle Eastern literature and cultural conditions in a historical comparative perspective. A selection of Arabic, Hebrew, Persian and Turkish literature will be studied in relation to their historical, cultural and socio-political context. The students will discuss language relations and the relationships between classical and modern literature, as well as the role of literature in the process of nation-building. The course will also focus on the ability of literature to comment on relevant societal issues such as the relationship between East and West, political systems and the role of women in society. All texts are available in English (some also in Norwegian) translations. 

Learning outcome

  • You will be presented to a selection of authors and short stories dealing with key topics in Middle Eastern literature and society from the mid-19th century to the present day.
  • You will become familiar with some basic analytical tools and techniques of interpretation.
  • You learn to understand literature as a symbolic expression and gain insights into important literary traditions.
  • You are trained to see literary texts against their historical background and in a comparative as well as a wider cultural perspective.
  • You learn to discuss your analysis and interpretation hypotheses in a workgroup and to present these orally in front of the class and in writing in the form of a wiki entry.


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.

This course is not available for single course students.


Recommended previous knowledge

A good knowledge of English is indispensable. 

Overlapping courses

The student is responsible for making sure that the course content does not overlap with other courses the student has already received credit for.


Total of 14 lectures/seminar.

Compulsory activities

  • Prepare 1 oral presentations on at least 2 of the curriculum texts and lead the discussion in the corresponding seminar. This is typically done as a group activity. The presentations should (a) give a brief summary of the content, (b) describe the structural characteristics of the text, and (c) develop and present some ideas about the interpretation of the text.

    Presentations should last no longer than ca. 20 minutes (with students of a working group contributing on equal terms). Presentations must be acconmpanied by a hand-out and/or PowerPoint presentation outlining the main points of the analysis and suggesting questions for discussion to the rest of the class. Students are strongly encouraged to meet with the teacher (or teaching assistant, if available) a week before the presentation to go through plans, questions and thoughts regarding the presentation.
  • Each student has to submit at least 1 wiki entry for the same short stories/novels on which s/he has presented. The wiki-entry must be handed to the teacher within one week after the oral presentation. It must be re-submitted after having integrated the comments and suggestions of the teacher.

More information about the mandatory work and deadlines will be given during class and in Canvas. You must submit the mandatory work within the given deadlines, and you are responsible for familiarizing yourself with the requirements for the compulsory activities.

Valid absence

If you have valid absence from the compulsory activities, you must submit an application and hand in documentation. 

This is how you apply for valid absence from compulsory activities/compulsory attendance.


Home examination over three days.

A three days long home examination culminating in the submission of a paper of approx. 5 pages - in total approx. 1500 words. References do not count towards this total. (Font: Times New Roman, 12 point, 1,5 line spacing and margins of approx. 2.5 cm.) You will receive more details about the choice of topic etc. from the teacher in due time.

The term paper will consist of two parts. In part A of this assignment, the students will answer 2-3 general questions on the basis of the lectures they have heard during the term period and the overview articles in the syllabus that they have read. Part B will then be an essay in which the student compares 2 texts (one that the student has presented in class) and any other text from the textbook anthology.

You must fulfill the requirements of mandatory tuition activities in order to qualify for taking the exam.

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit your assignment.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination

You may submit your response in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English. If you would prefer to have the exam text in English, you may apply to the course administrators.

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

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


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

Periodisk evaluering

Facts about this course

Every spring
Every spring
Teaching language

Norsk og engelsk