The Department of Arabic and Translation Studies is a diverse department with research and teaching expertise in four broad areas of Arabic studies. As the name implies, we have an active translation studies program with a master’s degree that aims to provide its students with well-rounded preparation for work or further study in the field of translation and interpreting, including practical training in conference interpreting in a purpose-built interpreting lab. Teaching in the program are some of the brightest stars in the Arabic translation studies firmament. The department also hosts undergraduate minors in translation and in Arabic studies. These, too, serve the practical purpose of imparting to students crucial work-related skills in Arabic composition and rhetorical style, skills that are in high demand in the frothy business and media milieu of the Arab Gulf as well as further afield in the Arabophone world.
The study of the Arabic literary heritage in its cultural and historical contexts also figures prominently in the curriculum of the department. We view as an essential part of our educational mission the imparting to our students a firm sense of the richness and depth of the Arab/Islamic civilizational legacy. Much of this is embodied in the Arabic literary tradition writ large, encompassing in equal measure historiography, geography, philosophy, linguistics, and the sciences, along with the belles-lettres genres of poetry and prose, spanning a time period from the 6th century to yesterday. In that respect, all of our faculty members involve themselves in research into the immensely diverse genres of Arabic literature. Their research infuses their teaching with an intimate knowledge of and enthusiasm for the history, culture, and, of course, the literature of the Arab world.
As an integral part of this, the department boasts a series of classes addressing the foundational Islamic texts and traditions, amounting to its third arena of specialization. Here again, our mission is to equip students with firm grounding in the essentials of Muslim principles and praxis, including, when necessary, a reading knowledge of Arabic sufficient for approaching those texts and traditions in their original language. With several active scholars in the field of Islamic studies in its modern orientation conducting our classes, ours is a unique program in the Arab Gulf, and I daresay in the Muslim world in general.
As for teaching the Arabic language, the fourth realm of expertise of the department, many AUS students, while they are pursuing their various interests and majors in other disciplines, avail themselves of the opportunity that we are able to provide them of learning the language. Indeed, our Arabic language classes are a picture of the diverse cultural backgrounds represented on the AUS campus. A typical class is a cross-section of the AUS student body, even including among its numbers study-abroad students who come to AUS for a semester or a year as part of a culturally enriching educational experience away from their home universities. For its part, the Arabic language component of the department also boasts some prominent linguist practitioners in the field, among whom, after a career spent in Arabic study abroad, I count myself.
I welcome the entire AUS community, past, present and prospective, to come to the department to sample the riches of the Arabic language in all of its diversity by enrolling in a class, attending one of our many public lectures, or simply to talk. There is nothing I like more than talking about Arabic!
David Wilmsen, PhD
Head of Department