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Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations (NELC)

The NELC Major

The requirements for majors in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations include Basic Requirements for all NELC majors and the requirements specific to a student’s chosen concentration. NELC offers concentrations in one of four areas:

  • Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations (ANE).
  • Arabic & Islamic Studies (Arab/Islam)
  • Arabic & Hebrew Studies - modern or medieval (Arab/Heb)
  • Hebrew & Judaica (Heb/Jud)

All courses taken for the major must be taken for grade. They cannot be taken pass/fail.


Language Requirement: 6 c.u. 
Both basic language courses and advanced courses in literature in the original language count toward this requirement.

Breadth Requirement: 2 c.u. 
NELC 101 (Ancient Middle Eastern History & Civilization) and NELC 102 (Introduction to the Middle East) fulfill the major's breadth requirement. This requirement provides majors with an overall understanding of Near Eastern cultures which span more than four millennia, so that they are familiar with other Near East traditions in addition to the one in which they concentrate.

Electives: 6 c.u. 
These will normally be content courses within the chosen concentration, but each concentration imposes certain constraints on the electives to be selected. Electives must be selected for appropriateness with the student's major Adviser
Students may count up to four courses from outside the Department (i.e., not cross-listed in NELC) towards the major electives; and up to seven courses, with the special approval of the student's Adviser. In no case may a student count more than half of the total major requirements in non-NELC courses.

Concentration Paper Requirement: 
Within his or her chosen concentration, every student must write a substantial term paper in conjunction with an appropriate "upper-level" course. In all cases, these courses must be pre-designated by the student, and the paper topic must be pre-approved by the professor teaching the course. A Concentration Paper Requirement Form (available for download here), with the professor's pre-approval, must be filed with the student's record prior to the writing of the paper. Upon completion and acceptance of the concentration paper, the professor must sign the form again and return it to the Department office. Should there be a term in which no appropriate "upper-level "course is offered in the student's concentration, the Adviser may approve a reading and research course (NELC 399) with an appropriate instructor. All concentration papers must receive a grade of A or A- in order to fulfill the requirement.



Ancient Near East (ANE): 
This concentration explores the cultures of the ancient Near East, including Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Israelite, Hittite and Persian civilizations. As for the language requirement, 2 c.u. of the 6 c.u. may be fulfilled by appropriate courses in literature in translation such as NELC 061 (The Literary Legacy of Ancient Egypt) and NELC 342 (Introduction to Mesopotamian Literature). Additional language c.u.’s will normally consist of either two years of Egyptian (ANEL 460, 461, and 462), two years of Biblical Hebrew (HEBR 151/152 and 153/154) or two years of a West Semitic language, either Aramaic (ANEL 575/576) or Ugaritic (ANEL 573/574) or one year of Akkadian (ANEL 440/441) and one year of West Semitic. Electives will be taken from culture course offerings in at least two ancient civilizations. Examples of concentration paper courses are NELC 466 (Archaeology and History of the Middle Kingdom) and NELC 342 (Intro to Mesopotamian Literature).

Arabic & Islamic Studies (Arab/Islam): 
This concentration explores Arabic, Persian and/or Turkish cultures in the context of Islamic civilization. For Persian and Turkish, the language requirement is 6 c.u. For students concentrating in Arabic, the Arabic language requirement is 7 c.u. and may only be fulfilled with ARAB 033 and above. In addition, the 7 c.u. in Arabic language must include three advanced readings courses (ARAB 333, ARAB 433, ARAB 436 or others chosen in consultation with the student's Adviser). Electives, to be chosen in consultation with the student’s Adviser, may be focused on either the medieval or modern period, but must include a minimum of one course each in history, literature (in the original language or translation), and religion. In general, the history requirement will be satisfied by NELC 134, 234, 235, 239, 331, 332, 335, or 336; the religion requirement by NELC 130, 238, or 437; and the literature requirement by NELC 114, 201, 233, or 434. Concentration paper courses are usually upper division courses (300- or 400-level) and must be arranged with the instructor and in consultation with the student’s Adviser.

Arabic & Hebrew Studies (Arab/Heb): 
This concentration explores the inter-relationships between Arabic and Hebrew cultures within the modern and/or medieval periods. The language requirement (6 c.u.) may be split between two years (4 c.u.) of one language (Arabic or Hebrew) and one year (2 c.u.) of the other. Students are encouraged, however, to study the second of the two languages for two years also, by using 2 of the elective courses for that purpose. The electives, to be chosen in conjunction with the major Adviser, as well as the concentration paper should promote the combined study of Arabic and Hebrew cultures. Examples of concentration paper courses include: NELC 201 (Modern Middle East Literature in Translation, NELC 434 (Arabic Literature and Literary Theory), NELC 437 (Methods in Medieval Islamic Studies), HEBR 359 (Studies in Modern Hebrew Literature), HEBR 357 (Classical Midrash and Aggadah).

Hebrew & Judaica (Heb/Jud): 
This concentration explores Hebrew culture from the Biblical through the Rabbinic and Medieval periods and modern times. Students without previous knowledge of Hebrew are required to fulfill the language requirement (6 c.u.) with three years of basic Hebrew instruction (HEBR 051-054 and HEBR 151/152 and 153/154). For students placing out of lower-level courses, the corresponding number of c.u. is converted to electives. For all students, however, 3 c.u. from the electives must be upper-level courses in Hebrew texts, one each in the areas of Biblical literature, Rabbinic or Medieval literature, and modern Hebrew literature. Examples of concentration paper courses are HEBR 356 (Talmudic Literature), HEBR 359 (Seminar in Modern Hebrew Literature), HEBR 551 (Dead Sea Texts), HEBR 550 (A Book of the Bible). Double-majors who have placed out of elementary language courses may apply to have the major requirement reduced to 12 c.u. For further information, consult the Concentration Adviser.


Talented students may wish to consider entering NELC’s Honors Program.  Students must consult with the Adviser in their concentration about admission to NELC's Honors Program. A student's overall GPA as well as the student's major GPA will be taken into consideration in awarding Honors. A student admitted into the Department's Honors Program will be required to take an additional 2 c.u. in the student's senior year: one course in guided research (NELC 301) and one course in independent study (NELC 399), culminating in the writing of an honors thesis. The thesis must earn a grade of A or A- and will be in lieu of the Concentration Paper requirement.






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