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Berkeley and the Mideast


The Politics and Poetics of Palestinian Resistance
English 1A § 16 – S. Shingavi

DESCRIPTION: This is a course on Palestinian resistance literature. It takes as its point of departure the Palestinian literature that has developed since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, which has displaced, maimed, and killed many Palestinian people. The Israeli military occupation of historic Palestine has caused unspeakable suffering. Since the occupation, Palestinians have been fighting for their right to exist. And yet, from under the weight of this occupation, Palestinians have produced their own culture and poetry of resistance. This class will examine the history of the Palestinian resistance and the way that it is narrated by Palestinians. The instructor takes as his starting point the right of Palestinians to fight for their own self-determination.

Discussions about the literature will focus on several intersecting themes: how are Palestinian artists able to imagine art under the occupation; what consequences does resistance have on the character of the art that is produced (i.e. why are there so few Palestinian epics and plays and comedies); can one represent the Israeli occupation in art; what is the difference between political art and propaganda and how do the debates about those terms inflect the production of literature; how do poems represent the desire to escape and the longing for home simultaneously (alternatively, how do poems represent the nation without a state); what consequence do political debates have on formal innovations and their reproduction; and what are the obligations of artists in representing the occupation.

This 1A course offers students frequent practice in a variety of forms of discourse leading toward exposition and argumentation in common standard English. The course aims at continuing to develop the students' practical fluency with sentence, paragraph and thesis-development skills but with increasingly complex applications. Students will be assigned a number of short essays (2-4 written pages) and several revisions.

REQUIREMENTS:   6 papers (10% each)
3 unscheduled quizzes (10% each)
participation – discussion, attendance, contributions to the class (10%)

TEXTS: Course reader (Psalms, Darwish; Victims of a Map, trans. Al-Udhari; Poetry of Resistance in Occupied Palestine, trans. Hijjawi; All That’s Left to You, Kanafani); The Adam of Two Edens, Darwish; Memory for Forgetfulness, Darwish; Men in the Sun, Kanafani; Drops of This Story, Hammad; Anthology of Modern Palestinian Literature, Jayyusi; The Question of Palestine, Said; The Politics of Dispossession, Said; The New Intifada, ed. Carey

August 27, 29: Where is Palestine?

September 3, 5: Who are the Palestinians?

  • "Identity Card," "Poem of the Land," "Homing Pigeons," "Guests on the Sea," "Intensive Care Unit," "Psalm 9," "We Went to Aden," Darwish
  • Question of Palestine, Said (pgs. 115-181)

*** 2-3 page response paper due September 5th (bring 3 copies to class) ***

September 10, 12: What is resistance?

  • "Palestinian Literature," Kanafani
  • "Roses and Dictionaries," "Anger and Pride," "The Passport," "The Return," "Victim #18," "My Father," "Wishes," "Promises from Al-Assifa," "I am coming to the shade of your eyes," Darwish
  • Question of Palestine, Said (pgs 56-114)

September 17, 19: What are poetics?

  • "A non-linguistic dispute with Imri’ al Qays," "Speech of the Red Indian," "Eleven planets in the last Andalusian sky," "The tragedy of Narcissus," "The Earth is Closing in on Us," "We Fear for a Dream," "We are entitled to love Autumn," "We travel like other people," "We go to a country," We are here near there," "Athens Airport," "They’d love to see me dead," "The Wandering Guitar Player," Darwish
  • Anthology of Modern Palestinian Literature, Jayyusi (pgs. 720-730)
  • Question of Palestine, Said (pgs. 182-244)

*** 4-5 page rewrite due September 19th ***

September 24, 26: Is there a difference between propaganda and poetry?

  • "Psalms I-XVIII," Darwish
  • The Politics of Dispossession, Said (pgs. 3-23, 56-68, 107-129)

October 1, 3:"Why didn’t they knock on the sides of the tank?"

  • The New Intifada, Carey (pgs. 269-316)
  • "Men in the Sun," Kanafani

October 8, 10: Who are the refugees?

  • "‘If You Were a Horse …’", "A Hand in the Grave," "The Falcon," "Letter from Gaza," All That’s Left to You, Kanafani
  • Politics of Dispossession, Said (pgs. 203-246).

*** 3-4 page paper due October 10th (bring 3 copies to class) ***

October 15, 17: What is Palestinian modernism?

  • All That’s Left to You,"In My Funeral," "Kafr Al-Manjam," "The Shore," "The Viper’s Thirst," "The Cake Vendor," "The Cat," "Pearls in the Street," "A Concise Principle," "Eight Minutes," "Death of Bed 12," Kanafani
  • Politics of Dispossession, Said (pgs. 247-268)

October 22, 24: What is the Occupation?

  • "My Country on Partition Day," "We Shall Return," "I Love You More," Abu Salma
  • "from Jerusalem to the Gulf," "On the Presence of Absence," ‘Abd al-Latif ‘Aql
  • "New Suggestions," "The Terms of Ambition," "From ‘I do not renounce Madness,’" "Our Country," "The Hands Again," "The Sparrow Told Me," Ahmad Dahbour
  • "A Souvenir Vendor in Nazareth," Ahmad Hussain
  • "Damascus Diary," "Against," "First," Rashid Husain
  • Memory for Forgetfulness, Darwish (pgs. xi-60)

*** 5-6 page rewrite due October 24th ***

October 28, 31: Who gets to record history?

  • From "Zero Hour," Jabra Ibrahim Jabra
  • "The Woman," "Songs for an Arab City," "On June 5, 1968," "The Three of Us Alone," Salma, Khadra Jayyusi
  • "Refugee," Salem Jubran
  • "Dialectics of the Homeland," From "What is Your Purpose, Murderous Beauty?" "Departure," ‘Ali al-Khalili
  • "Family Poems," "Peace Be Upon …", Rasim al-Madhoun
  • "The Martyr," "Call of the Motherland," ‘Abd al-Raheem Mahmoud
  • "At Night," "Dawn Victory," "The Inheritance," ‘Izzidin al-Manasra
  • "A Nonpersonal Account," "Echo," "Two Old Ages," "The Road," "Poetry," "A Forest," Khairi Mansour
  • "Circling," "Meeting of Two Wounds," Khalid ‘Ali Mustafa
  • "Reverse Journey," Taba ‘Abd al-Ghani Mustafa
  • "Flight," "The Hand," "Thread," "Song," Ibrahim Nasrallah
  • Memory for Forgetfulness, Darwish (pgs. 60-118)

November 5, 7:"What next?"

  • "All of This Is Strange, Like Everything," "Language," "Part of a Wall," "Dead Memory," "Overflow," Kamal Quddura
  • "The Clock," "Rats," "Ashes," "Love Poems," "You Pretend to Die," "I Do Not Blame You," Samih al-Qasim (also, from the reader: "The eternal fire," "Kafr Qasim," "A Homeland," "The unruly horse," "Letter from a Prison Camp," "The man who visited death," "The thunderbird")
  • From "Signs," Taber Riyad
  • "Intimations of Anxiety," "The Ever-Deferred Moment," Laila al-Sa’ih
  • "Departure," "From Beirut under Siege," Mai Sayigh
  • "Then How Will the Poem Come?", "Seven Poems," Anton Shammas
  • "The Sibyl’s Prophecy," "Enough for Me," "The Deluge and the Tree," Fadwa Tuqan (also, from the reader: "My Sad City," "The seagull and the negation of the negation")
  • "Commando," Ibrahim Tuqan
  • From "The Siege," ‘Abd al-Raheem ‘Umar
  • "Here We Shall Stay," "A Million Suns in My Blood," "Pagan Fires," "What Next?", Tawfic Zayyad (also, from the reader: "The impossible," "I clasp your hands," "The bridge of return")

November 12,14: How do you represent the Occupation?

  • Memory for Forgetfulness, Darwish

*** 5-7 page paper due on November 14th ***

November 19, 21: What is Palestine to a Palestinian-American?

  • Drops of This Story, Hammad

November 26: Does this tale have a tail?

  • "The Odds-and-Ends Woman," Emile Habiby
  • From Memoirs of an Unrealistic Woman, Sahar Khalifeh

December 3, 5: Student conferences and evaluations

*** 7-9 page paper due on December 11th ***

Ground Rules for Class Participation: Be prepared to focus on the texts and topics assigned (and come to class having read assigned reading in advance). Be prepared to comment thoroughly and constructively on the writing of your fellow students and to have your writing read by others. Help create an open, safe and respectful climate in the classroom. Do not personalize your responses to others. No insults, blaming, or verbal attacks of any kind will be tolerated. Listen actively and considerately. Do not interrupt. Express disagreement civilly. If you disagree strongly or are offended or upset by something, use the means I offer at the times I designate (these might include informal, ungraded in-class and out-of-class writing assignments, tabling some questions for a time to return to them for a later discussion, "roundtable" discussions in which each student speaks in turn while others listen silently, or small group work) to inform the class. Do not monopolize class discussion. If you speak frequently, be aware of quieter students and make room for their turns to talk. Participate in a way that encourages other students to participate as well. Respect the privacy and confidentiality of the other students in the class. Focus on your own learning.