MIddle Eastern Landscapes W18 @ 2A

Middle Eastern Landscapes: Utopian, Sci-Fi, Post Apocalyptic
COLT 53.02/AMES 41.17
Tarek El-Ariss @ 2A
DIST: INT or LIT, WCult: NW; @ 2A

If you ever go to Egypt, it’s likely that you will hear the expression bash muhandis, literally meaning “Architect Pasha” or “Engineer Pasha.” This title is more important than those of doctor, general, and perhaps even president. What is it about the architect, builder, or engineer that captures so powerfully Egyptian imagination? What does it mean to build or imagine a new society or a new future through specific projects from the pyramids in Egypt to contemporary towers in Dubai and other Gulf States that transform and shape Middle Eastern landscapes? This interdisciplinary course addresses these questions by examining specific projects such as canals, dams, towers, and walls. The students and I will reflect on models of social and political utopia and their corresponding landscapes, examining conceptions of outer-space, islands, under water cities, and deserts, and tracing their development from early Middle Eastern texts to utopian thought and colonial ventures in the 18th and 19th centuries, national liberation in the 1950s, and global capitalism in the current era. Throughout the term, students will be encouraged to question the relation between engineering projects and political narratives, sci-fi fiction and nation building.

No knowledge of Middle Eastern languages is required for this course

Tarek El-Ariss is Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies who joined Dartmouth in Fall 2017. He is author of Trials of Arab Modernity (Fordham UP 2013) and Arab Culture in the Digitial Age (Princeton UP 2018)