Kevin Blankinship: Death and decay in poetry

“I esteem the very ground to be but mortal remains.”   —Abū al-‘Alā’ al-Ma’arri

This week our guest, a PhD candidate in Arabic literature in NELC, gives us us a macabre look into death and decay as they appear in the poetry of al-Ma’arri, whose work is the subject of his research. This talk includes a lot of poetry, and the speaker has been kind enough to prepare a handout of the lines he cites, which you can find by clicking here. Enjoy!

المعرّي والاضمحلال

Al-Maʿarrī & Decay: A Macabre Interlude

(Fall Quarter, Week 5: 31 October 2014)

To listen, right-click here to download or use the following streaming bar:

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Nareman Taha & Rima Najia: Arab-American Social Services

This week our guests, who work for Chicagoland-based nonprofit Arab-American Family Services (Bridgeview, IL), discuss the work they do as social workers and challenges they face therein, as well as the some of the contours of the Arab-American fabric. This presentation includes a combination of standard Arabic and Jordanian dialect (and sprinkles of English). Enjoy!

الخدمة الأسرية بين الأمريكان العرب

Family Services among Arab Americans

(Fall Quarter, Week 4: 24 October 2014)

To listen, right-click here to download or use the following streaming bar:

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Ahmed Alqarni: What makes language beautiful?

How do poets translate their thoughts and emotions into mere words which, when uttered, move us to laughter or tears, or bring us to share in their joy or their anger or their wonder? In this our second session of the quarter, we welcome Ahmad Alqarni, a student in mass communication at the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater. Mr. Alqarni is a native speaker from Saudi Arabia with a background in Arabic media. In this presentation, he interactively takes his audience through some of the elements behind what makes the language we speak—and the literary heritage we esteem (whatever our culture)—esthetically pleasing.

جماليات النصّ العربيّ

Esthetics of the Arabic Text

(Fall Quarter, Week 2 | 10 October 2014)

To listen, right-click here to download or use the following streaming bar:

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Kay Heikkinen: Some summer reflections from Egypt

Welcome to a new year of Arabic Circle (2014–15)!

We kick off the year with our own Ustādha Kay Heikkinen, who continues the tradition of our dear departed Dr. Farouk Mustafa with reflections on summer travels in Egypt. Ustādha Kay, in her lighthearted fashion, tells us some anecdotes from this summer and opens the floor to discussion a few matters of topical interest. Please enjoy!

ذكريات من رحلة إلى مصر هذا الصيف

Summer Reflections from Egypt

(Fall Quarter, Week 1: 3 October 2014)

To listen, right-click here to download or use the following streaming bar:


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Muhammad Eissa: In Memory of Farouk Moustafa

Well this wraps up the Arabic Circle for the year, but we’ll be back in October, إن شاء الله!


وداعا من هنا … إلى اللقاء هناك:
فاروق مصطفى: ثلاثون عاما من الزمالة والصداقة

Farewell From Here . . . Meet You There:
Farouk Mustafa: Thirty Years of Friendship and Colleagueship

Listen here!


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Sherine Yousef and Abdelghany Barakat

Two young Egyptians, Sherine and Abdelghany, here at the University of Chicago as Sawiris scholars to study economics and political science, discuss their impressions of Chicago and America in very clear Arabic!

Listen here!

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A Psalmic Reading of Quran 78

By Daniel Bannoura, of the Divinity School.

Listen here!

And here are the texts discussed, with translation:

Quran 78 Psalm 104

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الولايات المنفصلة المصرية: قراءة لخريطة القوى السياسية ما بعد الثورة

Dina Rashed — Political Science, University of Chicago

A Map of Post-Revolutionary Egyptian Politics

Listen here!

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Recordings of Autumn and ًWinter Arabic Circles

The following talks are now available:

Mahmoud Saeed:

مشاهدات رحالة.. كلّهم أفضل من طكيعان: كوالالمبور.. آيقونة الجمال والتسامح M Saeed.MP3

حَبّات الرمّان والمُدُن Mahmoud Said Habbat Al-Ruman wal-Mudun.MP3

الناتو وندى الفجر Mahmoud Saeed.MP3

Wajdi Hammed:

بقرأ من شعره ومن شعر أبي نواس Wajdi Arabic Circle.MP3

Nathan Miller:

The Depiction of Female Physicality from Pre-Islamic until Abbasid Literature Nathan Miller.MP3

Nathan’s handout: circle handout Women’s body image.pdf

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The Poetry of Osama Esber شعر اسامة اسبر

Osama Esber is a poet, short story writer, publisher and translator. He is member of the editorial board of Fiker Magazine and director of the publishing House Bidayat (Beginnings). Among his poetry collections are: Screens of History (1994); The Accord of Waves (1995); Repeated Sunrise over Exile (2004); and Where He Doesn’t Live (2006). His short story collections are entitled The Autobiography of Diamonds (1996); Coffee of the Dead (2000); and Rhythms of a Different Time (in process). He has translated the works of Michael Ondaatje, Bertrand Russell, Tony Morrison, Nadine Gordimer, and Noam Chomsky, to name a few. Osama Esber.MP3

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