University of Malta

Study-Unit Description
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TITLE The Semitic World: Interactions with the Mediterranean

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Faculty of Arts

DESCRIPTION This study-unit aims to present an overview of the Semitic world and of its impact on the rest of the Mediterranean. On the one hand, the various Semitic cultures of the Mediterranean are representative of the cultural diversity that is so characteristic of this region. On the other hand, the impact of the Semitic world on the Mediterranean has been tremendous, and therefore, the links between Semitic and other Mediterranean cultures are, in fact, numerous. For example, the most influential book, and number one bestseller, in the Mediterranean region (and the rest of the Western world) originates in the Semitic world: we are talking about the Bible, of course. Moreover, the three major world religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - all have Semitic roots. Likewise, our alphabet, which is such a basic component of our daily lives, has its dawn in the Semitic world. As far as the local Maltese context is concerned, we cannot fail but mention the huge Semitic component in the Maltese language.

The aim of the study-unit is to present an introduction to this rich cultural tapestry. Different lectures will explore various topics, such as Semitic languages, cultural traditions and customs, concepts (for example, monotheism), religions (namely, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), literature, drama, and art, as well as the interaction between Semitic and other Mediterranean cultures.

Study-unit Aims:

• To introduce students to the rich complexity of the Semitic world, through an exploration of this world's various cultural facets;
• To explore the cultural impact of the Semitic world onto the rest of the Mediterranean region;
• To expose students to various methodological approaches applied to the study of the history, culture, and language of Semitic societies.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

• have a better understanding of the various components that make up the Semitic world and the various Semitic cultures;
• comprehend the cultural influence that the Semitic world has had on other Mediterranean societies;
• integrate their knowledge of the Semitic world within the broader canvas of the Mediterranean, thereby creating the necessary historical and cultural links between the Mediterranean's various micro-regions.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

• adopt a critical approach to the sources;
• apply a multi-disciplinary approach in their research;
• engage in comparative studies.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

The following is a general list of select books that cover topics that will be discussed in this study unit. Given the diversity of topics that will be explored, a detailed bibliography pertinent to each topic will be provided in class.

Hetzron, R. (ed.) 1997 The Semitic Languages, London: Routledge [PJ3021.S46]
Hourani, A. 2013 A History of the Arab Peoples, London: Faber & Faber
Lange de, N. 2010 An Introduction to Judaism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Lewis, B. 2001 The Middle East, London: Wiedenfeld & Nicolson
Lipiński, E. 1997 Semitic Languages: Outline of a Comparative Grammar, Leuven: Peeters [PJ3021.L57 2001]
Said, E. 2007 Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient, London: Penguin [DS32.8 .S2]
Soden von, W. 1996 The Ancient Orient: An Introduction to the Study of the Ancient Near East, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans [DS57.S5813]
Waines, D. 2004 An Introduction to Islam, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press


Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment Yes 50%
Assignment Yes 50%

LECTURER/S Arsalan Alshinawi
John Attard
Joseph Ellul
Anthony J. Frendo
Dennis Mizzi
Ghenwa Mumari
Martin R. Zammit (Co-ord.)

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The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.
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