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Reply to ED BROPHY

Reader comment on item: My Gloom: Back to September 10
in response to reader comment: This Article and a nod to AFD

Submitted by A.F.D. (Saudi Arabia), Dec 26, 2005 at 15:22

Mr. Brophy:

Thanks for your comments on my posting. Please, be my guest and send a copy of it to Dr. Cole if you so desire.

May I suggest you also send a copy to [Al-Sharq Al-Awsat]? (The most widely read international Arabic newspaper....based in London. [Why it is based in London and not in Al-Riyadh is another story too long to go into here, but sure to cause guffaws and smirks when the facts are known]).

However, I wasn't kidding when I suggested that anyone contemplating specializing in Middle Eastern Studies would perforce have to be a medievalist. It's a fact. I know this because that's what happened to me.

When I began seriously persuing Middle Eastern Studies as an academic field, I originally wanted to specialize in the MODERN Middle East, (ignoramus that I was). My professors, among the most illustrious luminaries in the field, advised me in the strongest possible words not to be preposterous.

"The Modern Middle East?" they said. "AHAHAHAHAHAH" they continued. "Are you crazy?" "There is no such thing as the "modern" Middle East, certainly nothing worth writing about or studying about, let alone thinking about."

As I gained experience in the field, I realized how right they were. Oh, you could take a course in "Spoken Egyptian Arabic" or the like if you really wanted to, but anything serious, you'd have to go back to the 8th century or some such.

In fact, this approach or attitude.......if that's what it is.....can be borne out by checking out the Course Syllabus of any university with a Middle Eastern Program. One of my favorites is Harvard. If you read what they say closely, they make it very clear that they have "facilities" to study the modern Middle East......they almost make it sound like a joke......but they really specialize in (i.e. are only interested in students who will study) the Middle East of long ago.

Oh, there are some attempts at modernity. I was lookiing at a syllabus in one of our foremost universities recently and one of the "courses" they offered was "WOMEN IN THE KORAN". I teeheed all the way to the nearest bar.

A.F.D.
Submitting....

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