ARAB 405 A: Modern Arabic Poetry

Winter 2022
T 2:30pm - 3:50pm / DEN 110
Section Type:
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

ARAB 405 A

The Development of

Modern Arabic Poetry

 ( ﺍﻠﺤﺩﻴﺙ ﺍﻠﺷﻌﺮ ﺘﻃﻮﺮ

Winter Quarter 2022



Instructor: Terri DeYoung                                                                  Class Location: Online or in Denny 110

Office: 246 Denny Hall                                                                          Class Time: T 2:30-3:50

(on the west side of the second floor)                                                           SLN Number: 10348

Office Hours: Online: by appointment through e-mail.

Telephone: (206) 543-6184

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



Course Description: Poetry was traditionally considered the most important form of Arabic literature, and this situation continued through the end of the nineteenth century. In order to be truly educated in the Arabic language, even the best native speakers of the language needed to know the rules of poetry and how to compose it. In the middle of the twentieth century (after World War II) a new kind of poetic structure, called Free Verse   

( ﺍﻠﺷﻌﺮ ﺍﻠﺤﺭ ) was introduced by Iraqi poets. It became wildly popular throughout the Arabic-speaking world and dominates poetic writing today. This course will focus on the transition from traditional Arabic poetic structure to Free Verse. Attention will also be paid to the various movements that championed Colloquial Arabic ( ﺍﻠﺩﺍﺮﺠﺔ or ﺍﻠﻌﺎﻤﻳﺔ) in local regions (special attention will be given to Egypt).


Prerequisites: The prerequisites for this course are the successful completion of ARAB 203, 205 or 401 and/or approval of the instructor.

Textbooks: There will be no required textbooks for the class. Instead, the instructor will make available by Canvas and/or e-mail attachment the Arabic texts used in the course.

The following reference books are available through the Suzzallo-Allen Library website:


A Grammar of the Arabic Language, William Wright, Call Number: PJ6305 1967.

The first comprehensive grammar of Arabic in English. Still useful for the breadth of its coverage of unusual grammatical constructions and its comparisons of Arabic with other world languages. It has a comprehensive section (pp. 350-390) on poetic meters, pause forms and poetic licenses (based on Latin metrical terminology). The organization is often very difficult to follow. A non-searchable copy of the book is available here.


The Arabic Language, Anwar Chejne, Call Number: PJ6075 C6 1969 (also reliably available, through the UW library website, on-line as an e-book). A useful guide to the features and development of the Arabic language for the whole of its history. Written by an influential professor at the University of Minnesota.


The Arabic Language, Kees Versteegh, Call Number: PJ6075 V46 2014. With the exception of the first chapter (which is a very specialized study of the development of Arabic linguistics in Europe), this is a useful introduction to the linguistic study of Arabic by native Arab speakers. The author is one of the best Arabic linguists in Europe, a professor at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. The book is now available in print and as an ebook through the Suzzallo-Allen Library webpage.


Modern Written Arabic, El-Said Badawi et al, Call Number: PJ6307 G85 2004. Probably the best (and most Arabic-centered) grammar book of the language in English, by a group of major scholars in the field, based at both European and Arab universities. It is especially notable for the extensive use of examples (in whole sentences) taken from a wide range of MSA print sources. Unfortunately, the UW University Library only has a single hard copy in the Suzzallo stacks. It is available as a Kindle book on Amazon.


A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic, Karin C. Ryding, Call Number PJ6303 R93 2005 (also available on line). The second major grammatical study of Arabic (written in English by a highly regarded Arabic linguistics professor at Georgetown University) produced in the new millennium. It has a useful section on the structure of the Arabic syllable (pp. 35-38), which is relevant to understanding the nature of Arabic poetic meter and scansion.


Awzān al-Shi‘r, Muṣṭafá Ḥarakāt. A recent overview of the traditional system of metrics in Arabic. Call Number: PJ6171 H36 1998 (available in hard copy only). Cairo: Al-Dār al-Thaqāfiyah li-al-Nashr, 1998.


“Prosody (‘arūd),” Willem Stoetzer. An overview of the major basic divisions of Arabic metrics, from a largely Western point of view. Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature, vol. 2. Call Number: PJ7510 E53 1998. Suzzallo first floor reference section (London: Routledge, 1998)


Qaḍāyá al-Shi‘r al-Mu‘āṣir,. Nāzik Malā’ikah. The first attempt to codify the rules of Free Verse in Arabic, by one of its inventors (a major Iraqi poet and scholar). The book has aroused decades of passionate debate in the Arab world, by both admirers and critics of her approach. Call Number: PJ7541 M33 1965 (available in hard copy only).


Egyptian Colloquial Poetry in the Modern Arabic Canon, Noha Radwan, currently Associate Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature at University of California, Davis. Call Number PJ8210 R24 2012, also available online. A detailed (and extremely readable) account of the aims and principles of ﻋﺮﻮﺲ ﺍﺒﻥ ﺠﻤﺎﻋﺔ, the major poetic movement, formed after World War II, advocating the use of educated Egyptian colloquial in poetry.         





Course Goals: To familiarize the students with the important individuals who contributed to the development of modern Arabic poetry, to familiarize students with the differences between traditional and modern poetic meters, and the thematic conventions used in modern poetry, including its relation to modern Arabic music. In addition, attention will be paid to systems used for Arabic transliteration, Arabic handwriting and the sources available for research in the modern Arabic written language.


Student Requirements: The course will meet once a week on Tuesday from 2:30-3:50. either online or in Denny 110. Students will be expected to do the required readings in advance and come to class prepared for reading the text out loud and translating it into English. Class participation will count for 10% of the final grade. 20% of the grade (10% each) will be based on two presentations (in Arabic) about famous individuals who contributed to the development of early modern Arab poetry. Another 30% of the grade will be based on four homework assignments distributed throughout the quarter (consult the calendar for the assignments and due dates).The final 40% of the grade will be based on describing the meter and providing a written English translation of a modern Arabic poetic text—chosen by the student in consultation with the instructor no later than 3 weeks before the end of the quarter.

If you are dissatisfied with your grade on any of the writing assignments, you may correct the marked passages and comments on the text Prof. DeYoung returns to you, and re-submit the essay for a higher grade. March 11, 2022 is the last date on which re-submitted homework will be accepted.

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.



Plagiarism: Plagiarism occurs whenever someone uses the ideas or writings of another as their own without giving due credit. This applies to both exams and papers. All policies in place concerning academic honesty at the University of Washington apply to this course.  It is the student’s responsibility to become fully informed about those policies. Refer to the University of Washington Student Conduct Code (WAC 478120), for more information on the subject, or Search “Student Academic Responsibility” on the University of Washington homepage.



Laptop Computers: Laptop (or other communication devices) may be used in class as needed. They may not be used during tests.




Religious Accommodation starting in Autumn 2019, the University of Washington will be implementing the following new policy about arrangements for religious observances:


“Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy ( Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (”

More information on the policy is available on the webpage for the Office of the University Registrar.


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: If you think you may have to leave early or arrive late to a class, please let the instructor know in advance and try to sit near the door, so that you will not inconvenience others.

             Since the consumption of food during the lecture can interfere with class participation and maybe distracting to others, students are requested to avoid this in the classroom unless they are prepared to share what they have brought with all the other students. Your cooperation will be appreciated by everyone.

In general, civil and respectful behavior in the classroom is expected from everyone. If there are any serious disruptions during class sessions, University police will be contacted.


Class Breaks. Whenever possible, there will be a break of approximately 10 minutes halfway through the class lectures. This will be an opportunity for students to conduct any personal business necessary outside of the classroom.



Recommendations: Professor DeYoung will be happy to write a recommendation for any student who receives a 4.0 in this course or any other of her courses.


Exam Comments: If you would like to have your Final Exam questions (or your papers from the end of the quarter) returned to you (with comments), please let Professor DeYoung know, and leave a stamped, self-addressed envelope her box in the NELC Main Office (211 Denny Hall), or make arrangements to pick them up in Spring Quarter 2022.

Catalog Description:
Neoclassical poetry of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the development of modern verse. Prerequisite: either ARAB 203 or ARAB 205.
GE Requirements Met:
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated:
May 12, 2024 - 6:52 am