MEALAC Undergraduate Requirements
Majoring in MEALAC means developing two closely related skills. The first is linguistic expertise (at least two full years of one language are required, with further work greatly encouraged) combined with methodological competence, and the second is a commitment to learning, thinking, and writing about complex cultural formations. While an authoritative control of the primary sources remains a sine qua non for all research and teaching conducted in MEALAC, philological competence needs to be supplemented by an informed methodology of analysis and openness to a variety of disciplinary approaches. Methods and disciplines vary according to the faculty members' interests and expertise and incorporate an array of influences from various fields in the humanities and social sciences, such as political theory, literary criticism, film studies, sociology, and history.
Majors and concentrators begin their work with an introductory course that emphasizes a particular area (such as Islamic or South Asian civilization). They then take AHUM V3399 Asian humanities, an intimate seminar course in which they explore some of the classic texts of the region. Five additional courses are chosen in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies. These may include six points of course work from other departments, subject to the approval of the director of undergraduate studies. Although students should choose a particular focus (such as Middle East politics, Urdu literature, Armenian history, Iranian cinema), students are encouraged to gain exposure to the fullest range of material and approaches offered by the faculty of the department.
With this background, students are ready to take, preferably in their senior year, MDES W3000 Theories of culture: Middle East and South Asia. This examination of various methodological and critical approaches enables students to reflect on their own work in language and culture from a number of different perspectives. While not required for graduation, students may wish to write a thesis as well and thus become candidates for departmental honors.
Language Courses, Placement and Requirements
Students should be aware that enrollment in language courses is in some cases determined by placement examinations. They should consult the appropriate member of the language faculty, whose names are listed at the beginning of the language placement contact list. Language courses must be taken for a letter grade. Pass/D/Fail or Registration credit (R) is not permitted.
Language Placement Contacts:
Arabic: Taoufik Ben Amor, email@example.com, 601A Kent; 854-2895
Hebrew: Ruth Raphaeli-Slivko, firstname.lastname@example.org, 611 Kent; 854-6519
Hindi/Urdu: Rakesh Ranjan, email@example.com, 609 Kent; 854-2893
Persian: Ghazzal Dabiri, firstname.lastname@example.org, 605 Kent; 854-2556
Sanskrit: Somdev Vasudeva, email@example.com, 603 Kent; 854-0473
Tamil: D. Samuel Sudanandha, firstname.lastname@example.org, 609 Kent; 854-4702
Turkish: Etem Erol, email@example.com, 605 Kent; 854-0473
For important information about language classes, see the departmental Web site at: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/mealac/languages/
All students wishing to place into anything other than the introductory level of the Arabic, Hebrew, Hindi/Urdu or Persian language programs at Columbia or wishing an exemption from the Arabic, Hebrew, Hindi/Urdu or Persian language requirements must take a placement test before registration. The test is administered in the departmental office, 602 Kent. Complete beginners who cannot read or write basic Arabic, Hebrew, Hindi/Urdu or Persian must sign up for First year Arabic, First year Modern Hebrew, Elementary Hindi/Urdu, or Elementary Persian before registration. For Hebrew, students who passed the Jerusalem Examination or who scored a 700 or above on the College Board Achievement Test are exempt from the language requirements and may take courses in Hebrew literature. Please see the department Web site for more information on registration requirements.
Newly declared majors and concentrators should consult the director of undergraduate studies in order to plan a program of study. The goal is to strike a balance between courses that will help a student achieve depth in a particular area/discipline and those that foster a wider perspective. Although students are encouraged to approach faculty in the department based on their specific interests, the director of undergraduate studies functions as an ad hoc adviser for all entering students, addressing issues of course requirements, credit and approval for courses in other departments or other schools, study abroad, and, eventually, honors requirements (including the senior thesis). Please do not hesitate to contact the director of undergraduate studies by e-mail or phone, or during office hours.
Honors Program/Senior Thesis
For complete guidelines see Departmental Honors as outlined in Regulations in this bulletin. To be considered for the MEALAC honors program, a senior thesis with a topic and format approved by the director of undergraduate studies is required. Students must submit a thesis proposal containing a short abstract and the name of their advisor by November 15 of their senior year. A senior thesis is not a requirement for the B.A. degree.
To be considered for the MEALAC honors program, a senior thesis with a topic and format approved by the director of undergraduate studies is required. Students must submit a thesis proposal containing a short abstract and the name of their advisor by November 15 of their senior year. A senior thesis is not a requirement for the B.A. degree.