Since it’s just the first week, there’s not much to report about the class material so far. But here’s a taste of what’s to come for the rest of the semester.
WARNING: Some of my notes have nothing to do with class.
Contemporary Issues in Arab Cultures and Societies (audit):
(The professor of this course, Mayssun Succarie, has a reputation for being very good at her job. And I wanted to take a sociology class.)
Names of the region (post/colonial creations)
Middle east (1902, U.S. general)
Islamic world-> after 911, Huntington’s “clash of civilizations”
Why so many names? Shifting roles of Arab countries, oil, Israel as a colonial state, economics.
Post WWII -> power shifts from Brits to U.S., “Middle East” started to be used more as a term. Rise of Arab nationalism. Term “Arab World” started to be used in 1980s by Arabs themselves, until peace process in the ‘90s. U.S. began using “Middle East” instead of “Arab World” to be more inclusive of Israel.
Term “Middle East,” according to some in the class, is too inclusive of Israel -> “Moral obligation to refuse it [ term ‘Middle East’] until issues of occupation are resolved.”
Power Relations -> the geology of saving. Tribalism is the most often studied subject (from the west) of Arab world, although only 1% of the population actually live as Bedouins.
Shatila Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon -> over-researched by academics and organizations, drains the population.
Film as Text (audit):
(I decided to take a class taught by a professor that had shared some wicked poems during the reading two weeks ago. His name is Michael James Denison and he is from Pittsburgh.)
I need to go to the fruit stand today and get a smoothie (chunks of pineapple, syrup and a fruit called achtar).
“I suppose it’s my fault, I suppose when I married you I thought you were Gregory Peck.” (Denison’s wife during their divorce.)
I ran into an American kid from the Rotary club on Bliss Street. He looked like John Edwards and when I left he shook my hand and said, “You have a good night now.”
“Middle East” in relation to London.
“Things were very boring in 1850.” Denison’s tie is askew.
Speculative film -> utopia/dystopia -> ideas vs. sci-fi (isn’t most sci-fi speculative?)
Must watch the 1970’s Solaris
Neuroscience and the moving image -> audience put under hypnosis…but not all film is passive!
“Lebanese like action!” (kid in class)
“It’s like how people here love shooting in the air and fire, as if we don’t have enough explosions!” (Denison)
Plato’s cave = film/screen
“Plato likens people untutored in the Theory of Forms to prisoners chained in a cave, unable to turn their heads. All they can see is the wall of the cave. Behind them burns a fire. Between the fire and the prisoners there is a parapet, along which puppeteers can walk. The puppeteers, who are behind the prisoners, hold up puppets that cast shadows on the wall of the cave. The prisoners are unable to see these puppets, the real objects, that pass behind them. What the prisoners see and hear are shadows and echoes cast by objects that they do not see… such prisoners would mistake appearance for reality. They would think the things they see on the wall (the shadows) were real; they would know nothing of the real causes of the shadows.”
Allegory of the cave equal to Joan Braderman’s (film prof from hamp) suggestion that the screen is “a big tit for the audience to suck.” I’m wondering if Denison’s connection between Plato’s cave and narrative film can also be made with general news media. It follows a (fragmented) narrative, but is the audience still passive? Depends who is watching what. I’m active while watching Fox News.
“I hope one day you will read my book Vampirism: Literary Tropes of Decadence and Entropy.” (Denison)
“And of course, the other first films were of naked women. They were very interested in seeing people dancing naked and running naked… But what are you going to do about humanity?”
Arbitrary and intricate at the same time. (Can’t remember what this was in reference to, you decide.)
Orientalism and Terrorism:
“This class examines the connections between the classical and neo-classical discourse of Orientalism (study of the “orient”) and the contemporary discourse of terrorism as they relate to the Middle East… Understanding the relationship between “power” and “knowledge,” between construction(s) of the “self” and perceptions of the “other,” are corollary objectives of the course. The question(s) that guide the normative thrust of this course revolve around the conditions of possibility of discourses where the unproductive/destructive dimensions of power are either restrained or reduced… Practically speaking, in the realm of policy, discourses are often used to justify a given action and/or status quo. In turn, action and further action shape the development of a given discourse. One avenue for understanding this dialectic is to examine the relationship between power and knowledge and the instances where perceptions of “particularist interest” and “universal values” are conflated, deliberately or inadvertently.”)
Arab Studies Journal
911 (for Americans) = colonialism (for Arabs)
in feeling, not reality.
War on Terror -> Overseas Contingency Operations
Regardless of the new name, how has the war changed and stayed the same?
(My class notes might not be so interesting so here are some fun Arabic phrases…)
Kan ya makan- Once upon a time…
Tajara hul albee- It breaks my heart.
Ente/a metzawej/e?- Are you married?