Language and Literature

Les sociétés sont en proie à des mutations culturelles profondes qui transforment de manière inédite les modes de vie , le rapport au monde , à l’autre , au travail à l’information aux savoirs et aux loisirs … Ces transformations ont des aspects positifs et négatifs : elles laissent parfois entrevoir des opportunités nouvelles et enthousiasmantes mais participent également à des dérives graves et inquiétantes . Les événements tragiques dans le monde , les problèmes identitaires et les replis culturels dont ils témoignent , imposent aux chercheurs une réflexion sur le sens et la place de la culture dans le développement de la société . A quoi servent les stratégies culturelles entreprises ? Quelles en sont les finalités ultimes ? C’est sans doute dans le domaine de la société que nous devons penser l’intérêt de la culture . L’édification de la culture , l’éducation , l’accès aux savoirs sont les voies qui permettent à chacun d’ajouter sa pierre dans la construction de la société , d’exercer ses droits et ses responsabilités civiques . Comment cet objectif se traduit-il dans les pratiques d’acteurs culturels ? Comment peut-on agir dans nos différentes fonctions sans perdre de vue la réciprocité de la relation entre la culture et la société ? En un mot , comment défendre la contribution de la culture à une approche critique , dynamique des transformations sociales ?

At the English Department, a study entitled “Drama in Society: Empowering the Handicapped” showed how drama plays significant roles in four areas of community life: education, healing, ritual, and entertainment. The function of drama is contested by many dramatists. Some dramatists perceive the theatre as a mirror that reflects society, while others contend that theatrical works should change society. The aim of the study is to demonstrate how drama can be used to empower the handicapped and help integrate them into society. “Shadow of Homeland” is a play that reflects reality and seeks to depict the life of handicapped people, a marginalized group in the Lebanese society. It endeavors to give voice to this silenced group by sounding the murmurs of many handicapped characters who are touted by the Lebanese society as “the other” and deprived of their rights. Some of the actors and actresses in this play are members of Mountada Almoukadeen and they vocalize their own problems. This serves as a double edged sword; on the one hand, the audience gets to see the trials and tribulations of the “disabled” and on the other, the abilities and talents of the handicapped are exemplified as they have taken to the stage as any other actor would. The play, thus, aims to change public perceptions of the handicapped, and at the same time calls for social change.

Another paper tackled the issue of war fiction in Iraq. In wartime, when truth is the first victim, writers are drafted to be its first victimizers. In order to practice their authority on their texts, writers try to write their own version of the truth. This makes them targets of wartime censorship. A writer’s struggle is intensified when they find themselves in the trap of writing war in a context of dictatorship. Being caught in the crossfire between war and dictatorship, the writer practices self-censorship to protect their life, family, and eventually even their text. A vivid example of such a writer is Mahdi Isa al-Saqr, the Iraqi novelist who tried to remain loyal to his values in his writings about war through both implicit criticism in his first novel and explicit condemnation throughout his last novel, published in 2006, after the fall of the Iraqi regime. This paper, therefore, explores how al-Saqr succeeded through his imagination (a writer’s most powerful weapon) and his narrative techniques, to challenge censorship in all its forms, and still express his own convictions. His writings are not only an alternative narrative/narration of what was happening but also became a prediction of the future. His techniques and works established a model for many other writers to follow and stand proof that the word is mightier than the sword - and certainly mightier than censorship.

Studies at the Arabic Department cover a number of topics. A study was conducted on modern Palestinian poetry, entitled “The Role of Mahmoud Darwish in Building the Palestinian Revolutionary Thought”. Other studies and theses focus on linguistic, semantic and rhetorical aspects of the Holy Quran.

A paper entitled “Writing for Change: The World between Literature and Theory” aims to examine humans’ endeavors towards self-achievement, both individually and collectively. Thus, writers and thinkers have formulated their thoughts and feelings to capture this aim. It would seem that writers constantly precede theorists in crystallizing ideas, since they rely largely on insightfulness. They uncover the ills of society to ramify them. Such writings usually appeal more to the people and have a greater impact, in particular since they include an aesthetic dimension. Through this, they often lead to change with the spread of a new culture in the society. This literary exploration is followed by a phase of theorization, which seeks to explain and interpret. It is then that knowledge changes from an intuitive to a deductive method.

Future research projects that are subsumed under this subtheme may deal with the following topics:

  • Cultural diversity and identity issues in/through literature
  • Recent trends in applied linguistics and text analysis
  • Digital corpus linguistics and lexicography