28732 - Arabic Language and Literature I (LM)

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Docente: Sara Fani
  • Credits: 12
  • SSD: L-OR/12
  • Language: Italian

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students will have acquired a basic knowledge of Arabic Language and will be able to understand and produce simple sentences in Arabic. Moreover, they will be able to expose (in Italian) the course contents, both in in oral and written form, also with reference to the relevant bibliography.

Course contents

The course will be divided into two parts, which will be strictly interconnected: Arabic Language, and History of Arabic Literature. Two thirds of the lessons (40 hours - 2 lessons per week) will be devoted to the Language, while one third (20 hours - 1 lesson per week) to the History of Arabic Literature. 

Arabic Language

Students will be taught basics of Classical Arabic Language (CLA) and Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) in reading, writing, phonetics, morphology, syntax and vocabulary, so as to develop the necessary skills for an effective use of CLA/MSA in simple communication tasks, such as translating/producing short written texts and bunderstanding/producing” short oral texts.

Some basic notions of history and sociolinguistic of the Arabic language, with special focus on the themes of diglossia and linguistic variation, will be introduced, together with a focus on the historical and cultural contexts of use of Arabic language and writing system.

The subjects of the course will be: 

  • Introduction to the Arabic language: historical, cultural and linguistic frameworks
  • The Arabic alphabet and writing system: orthography (alphabet and orthographical marks), phonology and phonetics, transliterations systems
  • Basics of morphology and syntax: root and pattern, radical and additional consonants (affixation), use of the dictionary
  • The noun: definite and indefinite, the number (masculine and feminine sound plurals and duals), noun declinations, declination of the "5 nouns", agreement with the adjective
  • Nominal clause
  • Prepositions and other particles
  • Personal pronouns (isolated and suffix), demonstrative and relative pronouns 
  • Construct state and other ways to translate the possession
  • The verb: perfect and imperfect indicative of the regular primary verbs, active and passive participles
  • Verbal clause

History of Arabic Literature

An introduction to the history of Arabic literature will be provided, with a specific focus on the formative centuries of the so-called "classical" Arabic literature, on the literary genres developed, and on the major authors of the period stretching from the 6th century (pre-Islamic period) to the 9th-10th century (early Abbasid age). 

During the course, a specific focus will be devoted to the literary representations of "the other" (religious and ethnic diversities) in the different literary genres, and to the related historical and social implications. 

The various topics will be introduced with the help of literary examples in translation and, in the final part of the course, of simple textual excerpts in the original language which will be translated during the course. 

The topics will be the following:

  • Introduction to Arabic literature: orality and writing, the transmission of knowledge, periodizations, genres
  • The pre-Islamic era: historical and religious framework of pre-Islamic Arabia, oratory and narrative production, formal and cultural characteristics of pre-Islamic poetry, the "crows of the Arabs", the Muʻallaqāt and the construction of the pre-Islamic past
  • The Qur'ān: historical and religious framework of the first centuries of Islam, the Prophet and his life, the Qur'anic revelation, the drafting of the Qur'anic text, the devotional and apotropaic use of the Qur'ān, the reception of the Qur'ān in medieval Europe, the religious literature 
  • The era of the Rāšidūn and the Umayyad caliphates: cultural context, development of poetic genres (ġazal and ḫamriyya), prose
  • The first Abbasid era: cultural context, the šuʻbiyya, the era of translations, the development of science and philosophy, the poetry ("modernist" and "neoclassical" poets), the prose (adab and maqama), geographic and travel literature
  • In-depth analysis - A gaze on "the other": literary reflections of social representations relating to the notions of religious and ethnic diversities.


The 6 CTU Course "Arabic Language and Literature 1 (LM) - Code 28732" is held together with the present course. Students enrolled in Course 28732 are kindly invited to contact the Teacher to agree upon appropriate adaptations of the final exam program.



Arabic Language

  • Giuliano MION, La lingua araba, Roma: Carocci, 2007 > capitoli 1, 2, 3, 6 (pp. 7-71, 119-140)
  • Laura VECCIA VAGLIERI, Grammatica teorico-pratica della lingua araba, vol. I, 1: Mofologia e nozioni sintattiche, rivedute e aggiornate da Maria Avino, Roma, IPOCAN, 2011 > paragrafi 1-207 (pp. 1-122)

Or the same topics in other textbooks (e.g.: Veccia-Vaglieri old edition; Manca; Deheuvels; Darghmouni...), to be agreed upon with the teacher. The bibliographical references will be given during the first lesson. 

Additional material for excercises will be provided by the teacher and stored in the platform Virtuale. 

Arabic Literature

  • Daniela AMALDI, Storia della letteratura araba classica, Bologna, Zanichelli, 2004 > cap. 1-4 (pp. 1-106)
  • Mirella CASSARINO, Traduzioni e traduttori arabi dall'VIII all'XI secolo, Roma, Salerno Editrice, 1998 > pp. 1-57

Additional material (especially anthological literary excerpts) will be provided by the teacher and stored on the platform Virtuale. 



Arabic Language

  • Nadia ANGHELESCU, Linguaggio e cultura nella civiltà araba, Torino, Silvio Zamorani Editore, 1993 > pp. 3-50, 116-125

Arabic Literature

  • Pier Giovanni DONINI, Viaggiatori e geografi arabi, Roma, IPOCAN, 2019

N.B.: Non-attending Students are kindly invited to contact the Teacher in order to define personalized bibliographical suggestions in the light of their own individual learning project.



For exercise in Arabic language the following bilingual dictionary is strongly recommended: 

  • Eros BALDISSERA, Il dizionario di arabo. Dizionario italiano-arabo arabo-italiano, Bologna, Zanichelli, 2004 (e successive rist.)

For those who have no prior knowledge of the history of the Arab world, reading of the following handbook is strongly recommended:

  • Adam J. SILVERSTEIN, Breve storia dell'Islam, Roma, Carocci, 2013.

Audiovisual materials from the Online Experimental Course "Sabily (Open Source), Lessons 1 to 24, can also be useful:

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvN0n14B5Kk&list=PLst_9DvzyL5lRWdPwDG-6D0Q21z00dP85

Teaching methods

Arabic Language

An original teaching methodology is proposed. The grammatical approach which is "traditional" in academic teaching of Arabic language, mainly oriented to develop student's passive skills in written communication (translation from Arabic into Italian), is combined with the mostly inductive and mimetic approach proposed by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (Learning / Teaching / Assessment).

The latter's guidelines have been of course reviewed according to the peculiar characteristics of the Arabic language and the special objectives of the course.

Arabic Literature

Literary production in the Arabic language will be historically and sociologically contextualized, highlighting the production of the most important authors of the various literary genres. Anthological examples in translation will be provided; in addition to this, short literay excerpts in original language will be translated in the final part of the course, with the help of the dictionary.

Assessment methods

Students who attend at least 75% of the lessons are considered to be attending.

The final exam consists in a written test on the Arabic Language part, compulsory and preparatory to an oral test, which will be devoted both to the Arabic Language and the Arabic Literature parts. Both parts are evaluated out of thirty. The grade of the literature part accounts for one third of the final grade of the exam.

Arabic Language

 The part of the exam relating to the language will be aimed at verifying the student's command of the Arabic language, at the level required by the Course, with particular reference to the following skills:

  • Reception and production of messages written in Arabic;
  • Translation of written messages from Arabic into Italian;
  • Autonomous production of messages written in Arabic.

Therefore, the student is offered exercises relating to these different skills (short translations; comprehension; sentences to complete, verbs to conjugate, etc.).

The Grammar topics included in the exam will be the following:

  • noun : triptotic and diptotic declension (singular, dual, plural);
  • noun/adjective agreement;
  • masculine and feminine;
  • nominal clauses;
  • active and passive participles;
  • verbal clauses  with 1st form verbs only: past and present-imperfect;
  • possessive constructions (iḍāfa vs. dative construction);
  • adjectives referred to terms in iḍāfa;
  • isolated and suffixed pronouns (singular, dual and plural);

The written test will include a short and simple dictation exercise. 

Arabic Literature

 The literature test aims to verify the knowledge acquired during the course, through the comment of some texts among those analyzed in class during the lessons, and the ability to briefly and critically explain the topics covered in the course on the basis of the content of the bibliography indicated and teaching materials provided.

The assessment will therefore be based on:

  • ability to comment on selected texts, i.e. the ability to identify and contextualize them historically; 
  • mastery of contents; 
  • ability to synthesize and analyze themes and concepts;
  • ability to express oneself adequately and with the language appropriate to the subject matter.

Top marks will be awarded to a student displaying an ability to provide a full-fledged linguistic and historical commentary of the selected texts and an overall understanding of the topics discussed during the lectures, combined with a critical approach to the material and a confident and effective use of the appropriate terminology

Average marks will be awarded to a student who has memorized the main points of the material and is able to summarise them satisfactorily and provide an effective critical commentary, while failing to display a complete command of the appropriate terminology.

A student will be deemed to have failed the exam if he/she displays significant errors in his understanding and failure to grasp the overall outlines of the subject, together with a poor command of the appropriate terminology.

Students with disabilities and Specific Learning Disorders (SLD)Students with disabilities or Specific Learning Disorders have the right to special accommodations according to their condition, following an assessment by the Service for Students with Disabilities and SLD. Please do not contact the teacher but get in touch with the Service directly to schedule an appointment. It will be the responsibility of the Service to determine the appropriate adaptations. For more information, visit the page:


Teaching tools

The indicated bibliography will be integrated with a wide range of other tools, mostly relying on Arabic sources (audiovisual, literary and religious texts), which will be provided to the students and stored on the online platform Virtuale.

Office hours

See the website of Sara Fani


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This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.