Academic Tracks

The Department offers several different tracks that allow students the opportunity to pursue specific topical and disciplinary concentrations within the field of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies.

Arabic Literature

This track offers training in various periods of Arabic literature and in theoretical approaches to Arab cultural production. These include medieval poetry and poetics; the theory of medieval narrative and fiction (from high-brow historiography to the popular canon of the Arabian Nights); modern Arabic literary theory; the modern Arabic novel in a global context; drama and theater criticism; modern poetry; contemporary Arabic popular culture and mass media; literature and film; theoretical and practical perspectives on literary translation from and into Arabic; and Arab Anglophone and Francophone transnational cultural production.
Students in this track will, in consultation with their advisor(s), craft a program of coursework and supervised training in a range of areas, including medieval Arabic poetry and poetics; medieval Arabic historiography, fiction and narrative; modern Arabic poetry; the modern Arabic novel; and modern Arabic literary theory. Students in this track will also take courses, and work with faculty, in the Department of Comparative Literature in order to enhance their training in literary theory and
comparative approaches.

Culture and Representation

This track focuses on the theories, methodologies, discourses and practices of representation as they relate to Middle Eastern societies and cultures. This track seeks to provide a coherent interdisciplinary framework and academic space for exploring a range of overlapping fields of inquiry, including film/media studies, visual culture, literature, and cultural anthropology. The purpose of the track is to familiarize the student with scholarship concerning Middle Eastern cultural politics in relation to broader intellectual debates, including postcolonial theory and transnational cultural studies.

All students in this track must fulfill the department’s basic requirements for the doctorate (see above). One of the two required major fields which students in this track will prepare and in which they must pass a comprehensive examination will focus on some of the landmark texts and key debates in the scholarly study of culture and representation, though the reading list for the field may also be formulated to reflect individual students’ specific needs and interests. Faculty may specify an exam format which differs from that used for other tracks in MEIS.

Islamic Studies

The Islamic Studies track is designed to offer students an integrated program of training in the academic study of the religion of Islam, combining the philological study of texts with the methodological perspectives of religious studies. Students opting for this track can draw on faculty expertise in such areas as Qur’an, prophetic tradition, Islamic law, Islamic theology, and religious praxis, while also taking advantage of the comparative and methodological resources of NYU's Program in Religious Studies.