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NEAR E 337 A: Egyptian Cinema: Glamour on the Nile

Meeting Time: 
MW 6:00pm - 7:50pm
DEN 113
Joint Sections: 
NEAR E 584 A
Terri Deyoung
Terri L. DeYoung

Syllabus Description:


NEAR EAST 337 A/584 A

Glamour on Nile: Egyptian Commercial Cinema

Winter Quarter 2019




Instructor: Terri DeYoung                                                                       Class Location: 113 Denny Hall

Office: 246 Denny Halll                                                                                  Class Time: MW 6:00-7:50 PM

(just inside the west entrance of Denny Hall )                           with an optional class session F 6:00-8:20 PM

Office Hours: MW 3:00-4:00, or by appointment                                     SLN: 18082 (337) or 22233 (584)

Telephone: (206)543-6184

or (206)543-6033 (dept. office—leave message)



Course Description This quarter the course will focus on the history and development of Egyptian cinema as the venue where Arab film-making most clearly confronted the opportunities and challenges inherent in creating a national film tradition. It will examine a range of topics, including: the transition to sound, the differentiation into genres (with a focus on the examination of the musical and the historical epic), the nationalization of the film industry in the 1960s, the role of the director as auteur (through an assessment of the career s of Youssef Chahine and Hasan al-Imam ) and the recovery of the Egyptian film industry after 2000


Since this is a NE prefix course we will only be viewing films subtitled in English. Therefore, no

knowledge of Arabic (or any other language except English) is required


Films will be screened in class during the optional Friday session. If  you can access and screen the films yourself (instructions for this will be given in the first class session), then you will not be required to attend the Friday sessions


Learning Objectives:


At the conclusion of the course, students should be familiar with the following:

1) issues surrounding the representation of images in the Islamic world


2) the development of commercial cinema in Egypt from the 1890s to the present day


3) the major genres of film (musicals, comedies, historical epics, literary adaptations and melodramas) produced by Egyptian studios and how they compare to cinema productions in other parts of the Arab world.


4) the major features of the studio system as it developed  in the 20th century in Egypt and what was the framework of the financing system it has been succeeded by


5) the technical achievements of Egyptian filmmakers since the 1920s


56 the challenges facing Egyptian filmmakers today.


Course Requirements: The grade for this course will be determined through evaluation of the student’s written projects for the course.


Writing Assignments:

                    1) A position paper (at least 2 pp. long) will be due tentatively on Friday 18  January 2019. The topic of the paper should be either: “Why am I taking this course?” or “What does the short Lumière film by Yousef Chahine mean?” This paper will count for 5% of the final course grade.

                    2) A second position paper (at least 2 pp. long), answering either the question 1) “Who is more important to the history of the Egyptian musical, Umm Kulthum or Muhammad ‘Abd al-Wahhab?” or, 2) ”How is the nation presented in Egyptian cinema of the 1930s?” will be due tentatively on Friday 8 February 2019. It will count for 10% of the final course grade.

                    3) A third position paper (at least 3 pp. long) will tentatively be due Tuesday 19 February 2019. It should answer the prompt: “Many cultural critics have been reluctant to analyze the success of the musical as a cinematic genre in Egypt. Choosing one of the musical films we have viewed so far this quarter, discuss what it can tell us about Egyptian society when it was made.” This paper will count for 15% of the final grade.

                     A set of three questions (see attached handout for examples) will be due at the beginning of discussion about each of the following films 1) Umm Kulthum: A Voice Like Egypt  2) Cairo Station (Bab al-Hadid), 3) Salah al-Din (Al-Nasir Salah al-Din), and 4) Asmaa. See the Calendar for exact due dates. The questions will count for 25% of the total grade.

Exams: There will be one exam, a take-home final exam (tentatively due Friday 22 , 2019 5:00 PM). Students will have the option to substitute (with the instructor’s permission, obtained at least two weeks in advance of the end of classes) a final paper (about 5-8 pages in length) for the take-home final exam. This paper will be due at the same time as the final exam.

 The Take-Home Final Exam or Paper will count for 40% of the final grade.


                    The remaining 5% of the grade will be based on in-class participation. This means that you will be expected to have read (or viewed) the “Primary Readings” before coming to class, and do whatever other reading is necessary so that you can participate actively in the class discussions. Attendance records (according to University of Washington regulations) may not be included in this portion of the grade, so it is up to the student to participate in the class discussion, in order to receive full credit for “class participation.”

                      Failure to turn in any assignments or take any tests on time will result in an automatic .3 deduction in the student’s grade for that assignment or test. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that all assignments are submitted on time and in readable format to the instructor.


For 584 Students:

Those taking this course under the “584” number will be required to turn in a paper (of at least 10 pp.) instead of the take-home exam

                In addition, those enrolled in 584 will be required to prepare 1 presentation (about 15 minutes) to be given in class outlining the background of one of the directors covered in the course.  Students enrolled in the 584 section of the course should consult the instructor about these presentations as soon as possible. The presentation will count for 10% of the final grade.



                The general policies about plagiarism in force at the University of Washington will be observed in this course (this applies to both 337 and 584 numbers).


Course Schedule and Readings:

The exact schedule of course readings will be found on “Assignments” page of the Canvas website for this course.

                “Primary Readings” This section on the Assignments page will identify films to be viewed (primarily on YouTube) before the indicated class meetings. In addition a selection of translated texts will be listed for some weeks of class. These texts will be made available by e-mail directly to students during the quarter. If you think you cannot receive texts by e-mail attachment, please talk to the instructor individually as soon as possible, in order to make suitable arrangements so that you can get access to the texts as quickly as possible. These same Readings should also be available through Canvas.

                ”Recommended Readings” are for the most part available in the Odegaard Undergraduate Library, either on reserve or in the stacks. “

                Supplementary” and other listed background readings will mostly be found in the Suzzallo/Allen library, either in the Reference area or the stacks. You should see the instructor if you have any difficulty obtaining one of these recommended or optional readings.




Recommendations: Professor DeYoung will be happy to write a recommendation for any student who receives a 3.8 (or above) in this course or any other of her courses.


Exam Comments: If you would like to have your Final Exam questions returned to you (with comments), please leave off a hard copy, with a stamped, self-addressed envelope in Professor DeYoung’s box in the NELC Main Office (211 Denny), or make arrangements to pick them up in Winter Quarter 2018.


Additional Credits: If a student wants to sign up for additional credits for the class or do independent studies (including senior essays) in other quarters, s/he needs to contact the instructor as soon as possible. All such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.



For Students With Special Needs: If you would like to request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disabled Student Services, 448 Schmitz, (206) 543-8924 (V/TTY). If you have a letter from Disabled Student Services indicating you have a disability that requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to the instructor as soon as possible so we can discuss the accommodations you might need for the class.

Classroom Courtesy: Since the consumption of food during class often interferes with class participation and is distracting to others, students are requested to avoid this unless they are prepared to share what they have brought with everyone. Your cooperation will be appreciated.

Communications Devices: Please do not use cell phones (or other communications devices) in the classroom. If you must take a call, please go outside the classroom. Laptop computers and tablets can be used in class for taking notes, but  may not be used during exams (no exceptions).




Background Reading: Many new and useful critical works about Arabic cinema have become available in the last decade. The earliest overview of Arab cinema (and still a very useful work) is Lizbeth Malkmus and Roy Armes, Arab and African Filmmaking (London: Zed Books, 1991). Call Number: PN1993.5 A66 M3 1991, available in the Odegaard Undergraduate Library Stacks. This book was followed by Viola Shafik’s Arab Cinema: History and Cultural Identity, rev. ed. (Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 2007). Call Number is: PN1993.5 A65 S5313 2007 (available on-line). Professor Shafik recently published another specifically on Egyptian film, Popular Egyptian Cinema (Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 2006). Call Number is PN1993.5 E3 S424 2007 (available on-line). Another useful resource (especially for factual information on individuals, genres and national film traditions) is  The Companion Encyclopedia of Middle Eastern and North African Film, ed. Oliver Leaman (London: Routledge, 2001. Call Number is: PN1993.5 A65 C66 2001 (on four-hour reserve in Odegaard) A second valuable informational resource for our course will be Roy Armes, Arab Filmmakers of the Middle East (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010). Available on-line through the UW Library.

Catalog Description: 
History and development of Egyptian cinema. Examines a range of topics, including: the transition to sound, the differentiation into film genres, the nationalization of the film industry in the 1960s, the role of the director as auteur, and the recovery of the Egyptian film industry after 2000.
GE Requirements: 
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated: 
August 2, 2019 - 9:17pm