English R1B

Reading and Composition: Writing Modern Egypt

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
18 Spring 2022 Beckett, Balthazar I.
TuTh 3:30-5 301 Wheeler


Egyptians often refer to their nation as أم الدنيا, the “mother of the world.” And Egypt has historically featured prominently in the western imaginary—from the legend of the Library of Alexandria to Napoleon’s invasion to the exploits of nineteenth-century Egyptologists. But Egypt’s history over the course of the past one hundred years is an intriguing one as well, as it features three revolutions—1919, 1952, and 2011—and changing (and often overlapping) contexts of colonialism, cosmopolitanism, changing gender norms, pan-Arab nationalism, socialism, neoliberalism, and authoritarianism. In the 1960s, for instance, Cairo becomes home to a sizable African American expat community, which, for a brief time, included Malcolm X. What is more, this tumultuous history has been chronicled in fascinating works of fiction and films by both Egyptian and foreign writers and filmmakers, including Naguid Mahfouz, E.M. Forster, Lawrence Durrell, Edward Said, Waguih Ghali, Youssef Chahine, Stratis Tsirkas, Shirley Du Bois, Ibrahim Abdel Meguid, Ahdaf Soueif, Mohamed Diab, and Omar Robert Hamilton. In Egypt’s recent history and in our response to it, one could argue, there are important lessons to be learned for us in the United States.

Building on the skills students acquired in R1A, this course will continue to develop reading, writing, and research skills with the aim to practice writing longer essays that are rhetorically aware and partake in relevant scholarly conversations. Students will conclude this course by submitting a research paper in which they will partake in a scholarly debate that they feel passionate about.

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