Iraq & Syria: Arts and Revolutions – Fall 2017

Course number: AMES 222S

Course attributes: CCI, ALP, CZ

Course description:

The course introduces the political and cultural background of the conflict and uprising in Iraq and Syria. Focusing on culture, arts, and literature especially after the Arab Spring 2011 this course uses movies, books, and guest speakers to broaden the understanding of the current war against terrorism and dictatorships.

Professor biography:

Abdul Sattar Jawad (known also as ‘Al-Mamouri’) is an Iraqi-born Professor of Comparative Literature and Middle Eastern Studies at Duke University. He received a Ph.D in English Literature and Journalism, London’s City University (UK). He has been a Barksdale Fellow at the University of Mississippi Honors College; a Visiting Professor at the Department of English and American Language and Literature, Harvard University; and a scholar at the John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies at Duke University. Before coming to Duke, he was Dean of College of Arts Mustansiriya University in Baghdad and edited the Baghdad Mirror. Apart from teaching Arabic and English Literature, he is an expert on the works of T. S. Eliot and those of William Shakespeare. He has translated Eliot’s “Waste Land” into Arabic. He is also an expert on Iraqi media and academia. Jawad has written 14 books on literature and media, and has edited several literary magazines and newspapers in English and Arabic.



Chinese Media and Pop Culture – Fall 2017

Course numbers: AMES 435S, ISS 435, POLSCI 435

Course attribution: ALP, SS, CCI

Course Description:

The course examines contemporary Chinese media and popular culture within the context of globalization. The primary modes of inquiry are cross-cultural, interdisciplinary, and comparative, focusing on how China views itself and constructs its global images, and how the world views China through media and popular culture. The primary objective is to understand political, ideological and social changes since the Reform Era that began in 1978. It explores different aspects of Chinese media (traditional news press, radio and TV, and the internet and social media), and popular culture such as cinema, popular music and fashions, and global perception and media coverage of China.

Professor biography:

Professor Kang Liu has taught Chinese Studies at Duke University since 2003. His current research project covers global public opinion surveys of China’s image, Chinese soft power and public diplomacy, Chinese media and popular culture, political and ideological changes in China.




Islamic Mysticism – Fall 2017

Course numbers: AMES 373S, ETHICS 373S, ICS 380S, RELIGION 373S

Course attributions: CCI, EI, CZ

Course Description:

This course explores the mystical dimension of Islam, with a bold, poetic, and mystical emphasis on the legacy of human and Divine love.   No background is needed.

Themes explored in this class include the tradition of love poetry of Rumi and Hafez, the various meditative techniques, Sufi poetry and music. We will also explore the controversies surrounding Sufism in the contemporary scene ranging from attacks on Sufism from Muslim fundamentalists to the destruction of Sufi shrines by ISIS and Wahhabis.

Professor biography:

Professor Omid Safi is an award-winning professor in the department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, and the director of the Duke Islamic Studies Center.




Indian Cinema – Fall 2017

Course numbers: AMES 251, AMI 253, LIT 211, VMS 231

Course attributes: CCI, R, ALP, CZ

Course description:

Traditional Indian aesthetics emphasizes the experience of the viewer.  Less attention is paid to how the “external” world is represented; far greater attention is paid to how the “internal” world is stirred by a work of art.   In this introduction to Indian cinema, we will extend our usual way of analyzing the latent ideology of art by practicing traditional Indian sensitivity.  We will ask ourselves the following questions:  What kind of participation does a film invite? Who does it encourage us to become as we watch the film—how alert, how sensitive, how informed, how speculative?  What emotional effect does the film have upon us?  Could that effect be described as catharsis? What might traditional Indian theoreticians mean when they describe the “tasting” of basic emotions induced by a work of art as the height of aesthetic experience?

Professor biography: 

Professor Khanna’s teaching and research interests lie in the application of Indian aesthetics to film and modern Hindi literature.  He pays particular attention to the design of dhvani (resonance) in imaginative works.  Professor Khanna’s recent translations from Hindi literature have been the poet Nirala’s fictional autobiography (A Life Misspent, 2016), the novelist Mohan Rakesh’s India travelogue (Out to the Farthest Rock, 2015), and the poet Vinod Kumar Shukla’s novel (Once it Flowers, 2014).

He also interprets the lives and works of contemporary Indian writers to an international audience through a series of documentary films and translations. Professor Khanna’s recent work includes a translation of Vinod Kumar Shukla’s Naukar ki Kameez (The Servant’s Shirt, Penguin India, 1999), an anthology of short fiction, His Daily Bread (Har Anand, 2000) and the series Literary Postcard on the Doordarshan national network in India.