Undergraduate Module Descriptor

ARA2001: From Holy Text to Sex Manuals in the Medieval Middle East

This module descriptor refers to the 2019/0 academic year.


NQF Level 5
Credits 15 ECTS Value 7.5
Term(s) and duration

This module ran during term 1 (11 weeks)

Academic staff

Dr Emily Selove (Convenor)





Available via distance learning


This module will cover some of the most influential texts of the Classical Arabic literary tradition in translation as well as the historical trends necessary to understand this literature. You will begin with the Qur’an, and end with a famous 15th-century sex manual, The Perfumed Garden. You will cover the most important trends in Medieval Arabic literature and its historical contexts, beginning with the oral tradition of the transmission of Hadith (deeds and sayings of the prophet Muhammad) and the impact of this tradition on Medieval literature, culture, and historiography. You will focus especially on the “Carnivalesque” in Arabic literature and poetry, demonstrating how the so-called “marginal” subjects of sex, drinking, and humour were actually central to this tradition. You will also focus on the influence of these literary traditions on European science and culture. 

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