Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations | Harvard University – The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations ( NELC ) encompasses the study of ancient and modern peoples, languages, literatures, cultures, and societies of the Near and Middle East. Languages include Akkadian, Arabic, Aramaic, Armenian, Babylonian, Egyptian, Hebrew, Iranian, Persian, Sumerian, Turkish, and Yiddish .
The NELC staff is world-renowned and Harvard ’ s educational resources in the diverse fields of Near Eastern studies are virtually alone. Widener Library, for exemplar, has a broad categorization of holdings in Arabic, Armenian, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish, and yiddish literature. For students matter to in biblical or other ancient Near Eastern studies, or in the archeology of the Near East, a variety of opportunities for archaeological employment in the Middle East are available. Students interest in the modern Near Eastern political or social studies should familiarize themselves with the resources and personnel of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies ( CMES ). CMES is the coordinating body and a primary reservoir of intellectual and corporeal patronize within Harvard for scholarly pursuits covering the huge area between Morocco and Iran, and beyond. It was the first center of its kind and is creditworthy for teaching arsenic well as research. The Center for jewish Studies ( CJS ) is the focal sharpen at Harvard for the study and teach of Judaica through publications, fellowships, lectures, and symposium on topics of pastime to scholars and postdoctoral research fellows. The Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East, in which NELC is housed, has a brilliant solicitation of ancient and medieval artifacts representing many of the cultures of the Middle and Near East. As a university teaching museum, the Semitic Museum is committed to providing access to these materials for learn and teach .

Fields of Study

Ancient Near Eastern Studies

ancient Near Eastern studies ’ sub-fields include akkadian and sumerian studies, archeology of the Levant, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, iranian studies, and Egyptology .

Jewish History and Culture

The program in jewish History and Culture focuses on the history and literature of the jewish people from late antiquity to modern times, and is divided chronologically into five periods : the Hebrew Bible in its jewish interpretative context ; ancient jewish history and culture ; medieval jewish history and culture ; modern Jewish history and polish ; and modern jewish literatures. While students broadly choose to focus their interests by menstruation, the program itself stresses “ upright ” competence : all students are expected to gain some expertness in chronological periods other than their main one. As an option to specialization by chronological period, students may choose to focus their studies along thematic lines, for exercise on the history of jewish biblical exegesis. Ability to work with authoritative Hebrew sources in the original is a prerequisite for admission to the program.

Histories and Cultures of Muslim Societies

The Histories and Cultures of Muslim Societies course of study focuses on the histories, literatures, philosophy, religious think, and legal institutions of Muslim societies. Its elementary force lies in the coverage of a broad roll of fields of study in pre-modern and advanced periods, peculiarly with gaze to Islamic civilizations in the Near and Middle East. As a consequence of a growing recognition that the study of Islam and Muslim societies must embrace wider, more inclusive analyze of the divers heathen, racial, and religious groups that have been constituents of Muslim cultures in unlike parts of the world, the program besides provides students the opportunity to engage in the comparative study of Muslim societies, peculiarly in South Asia and Africa and their complex connections with the Near East .
The program in Histories and Cultures of Muslim Societies presently includes the trace subfields :

  • Arabic Language and Literature (classical and modern)
  • Islamic Religion and Culture
  • Islamic Intellectual History (especially Philosophy and Theology)
  • Islamic Institutional History
  • Islamic Law
  • Indo-Muslim Culture: The Study of Muslim Societies in South Asia
  • Islam in Africa

Admissions Requirements

Writing Sample

In addition to the application materials requested by GSAS, no application to the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations will be considered complete unless accompanied by a recent sample distribution of the scholar ‘s written bring ( for example, term paper, senior thesis, victor ’ s essay ). There is not a specify length for this write sample distribution. however, one should keep in mind that the admissions committee may not have the time to examine carefully a big writing sample distribution in its entirety. Please upload your writing sample to your on-line application along with your instruction of aim and transcripts.

Language Requirements

For the master of arts (AM) program : Before seeking entrance fee, applicants will normally have attained a basic cognition of a near eastern terminology central to their discipline of concentration. In accession, advanced reading cognition of either french or german is required before admission ; the scholar will be tested anterior to the beginning workweek of classes in the beginning condition .
For the doctor of philosophy (PhD) program : Before seeking entree, applicants will normally have attained an ability to read and comprehend sources in the Near Eastern linguistic process cardinal to their plain of concentration. In addition, advanced reading cognition of French or German is required before entree to the doctoral program ; the scholar will be tested anterior to the first week of classes in the first term .
More data is available from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and GSAS Policies .

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