Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures

University of California, Berkeley

Overview

The Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures (MELC) studies the languages, literature, and cultures of the ancient, medieval, and the modern Middle East. The department offers specialized training in archaeology, art history, Assyriology, Egyptology, Iranian studies, Judaic studies, Islamic studies, comparative Semitics, and Turkish, Hebrew, Arabic, and Persian languages and literature. Students can explore the interconnected worlds of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and their neighbors, as well as the modern literature and diverse cultures and societies of the modern Middle East. The department offers students the opportunity to participate in a discovery experience that is innovative, collaborative, transdisciplinary, and features digital research.

Undergraduate Programs

The Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures (MELC) B.A. program offers two specializations: 1) Languages and Literature and 2) Middle Eastern Worlds. Students in the Languages and Literature specialization can pursue a major in the modern languages of: 

  • Arabic 
  • Hebrew 
  • Persian 

The Middle Eastern Worlds' specialization is the study of the material, intellectual, and religious histories and cultures of the region from ancient to modern times. Students can pursue a major in:

  • Middle Eastern Ancient Worlds
  • Middle Eastern Modern Worlds

In addition to the major program, the department offers a minor in Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures (MELC), as well as minors in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish. For more information about the major and minor programs, please visit the pages below:

Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures (Major and Minor)
Arabic (Minor)
Hebrew (Minor)
Persian (Minor)
Turkish (Minor)

Graduate Programs

Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures: Ph.D. (with concentrations in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian Languages and Literatures, Near Eastern Archaeology, Art History, Cuneiform, Hebrew Bible, Biblical and Judaic Studies, Old Iranian Studies, Egyptology, and Islamic Studies)

Libraries

The Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures libraries are essential parts of the department. These non-circulating libraries are important for research for both graduate and undergraduate students in the department. The libraries house reference materials relating to the various disciplines within MELC, as well as more general monographs and serials, and serve as seminar classrooms. 

The Hebrew/Semitics Library and the Islamic Studies Library both contain basic reference materials, including dictionaries and encyclopedias, and some of the most important texts in their fields. Access is generally limited to graduate students in the department. Both libraries are non-circulating. 

The Baer-Keller Library of Egyptology is a non-circulating collection of approximately 9,000 volumes maintained by the Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures Department primarily for the use of UC Berkeley students and faculty pursuing a serious study of ancient Egyptian culture, Coptology, and Papyrology. Egyptology students and professionals from other institutions are also welcome. Interested individuals should apply to the Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures Department. The core of the library collection comes from bequests to the Department of Near Eastern Studies by Professors Klaus Baer (1987) and Cathleen (Candy) Keller (2008). Professor Baer was an Associate Professor of Egyptology and History at UC Berkeley before becoming a Professor of Egyptology at the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago. Professor Keller was an Associate Professor of Egyptology at UC Berkeley for many years.

Cooperative arrangements between the University and the nearby Graduate Theological Union enable students in the department to use the extensive library holdings of the Union and supplement their programs with selected courses in Palestinian archaeology, Biblical studies, and Semitic epigraphy and philology.

Visit Department Website

Courses

Select a subject to view courses

Arabic

Cuneiform

Egyptian

Hebrew

Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures (MELC)

Persian

Semitics

Turkish

Faculty and Instructors

Faculty

Azza Ahmad, Assistant Adjunct Professor. Arabic Languages, CMES.

Wali Ahmadi, Associate Professor. Persian languages, Persian literature.
Research Profile

Asad Ahmed, Associate Professor. Islam (social and intellectual history).
Research Profile

Adam Benkato, Professor. Iranian Studies, Senior Research Scholar at CMES.

Simon Brelaud, Assistant Adjunct Professor. Assyrian Studies, Syriac Language.

Ahmad Diab, Assistant Professor. Modern Arabic Literature.
Research Profile

Chana Kronfeld, Professor. Comparative literature, modernism, Hebrew, Yiddish, modern poetry, minor literatures, politics of literary history, feminist stylistics, intertextuality, translation studies.
Research Profile

Margaret Larkin, Professor. Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures. Classical Arabic Literature.
Research Profile

Rita Lucarelli, Associate Professor. Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, Egyptology.
Research Profile

Maria Mavroudi, Professor. History, Byzantine studies.
Research Profile

Nasser Meerkhan, Assistant Professor. Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, and Spanish and Portuguese.

Benjamin Porter, Associate Professor. Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, Archaeology, Near Eastern archaeology, Middle East, Arid Environments, anthropology, Heritage, tourism, and Museum Studies.
Research Profile

Carol A. Redmount, Associate Professor. Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, Egyptology.
Research Profile

Francesca Rochberg, Professor. Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, history of science, ancient near east, cuneiform studies.
Research Profile

Niek Veldhuis, Professor. Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, digital humanities, intellectual history, Sumerian, cuneiform.
Research Profile

Lecturers

Rutie Adler, Lecturer.

Hatem A. Bazian, Lecturer. Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures.
Research Profile

Elsa Elmahdy, Lecturer. Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, Arabic Language Coordinator.

Gholam-Reza Ghahramani, Lecturer. Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures.

John L. Hayes, Lecturer. Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures.

Sanjyot Mehendale, Lecturer. Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, Central Asia, Central Asian studies, archaeology and art history.
Research Profile

Haitham S. Mohamed, Lecturer. Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures.

Laurie Pearce, Lecturer. Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures.

Barbara Richter, Lecturer. Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures.

Jason Christopher Vivrette, Lecturer. Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures.

Emeritus Faculty

Ayla Algar, Lecturer Emeritus. Turkish language and literature, language pedagogy.

Hamid Algar, Professor Emeritus.

Robert B. Alter, Professor Emeritus. Comparative literature, Near Eastern studies, 19th-century European and American novel, modernism, literary aspects of the bible, modern and biblical Hebrew literature.
Research Profile

Guitty Azarpay, Professor Emeritus. Art and archaeology of the ancient Near East and Central Asia.
Research Profile

Ariel A. Bloch, Professor Emeritus.

Chava Boyarin, Professor Emeritus.

Daniel Boyarin, Professor Emeritus. Talmud, rhetoric, Christianity, genealogy of, invention of Judaism.
Research Profile

Wolfgang J. Heimpel, Professor Emeritus. Near Eastern studies.
Research Profile

Ronald Hendel, Professor Emeritus. Textual criticism, Hebrew bible, ancient Near Eastern religion and mythology, Northwest Semitic linguistics.
Research Profile

Anne D. Kilmer, Professor Emeritus.

David Larkin, Lecturer Emeritus. Egyptology.

James T. Monroe, Professor Emeritus.

Jaleh Pirnazar, Lecturer Emeritus. Modern Iranian history Persian language and literature, Iranian Cinema.

Martin Schwartz, Professor Emeritus. Near Eastern studies.
Research Profile

Muhammad Siddiq, Professor Emeritus. Near Eastern studies.
Research Profile

David B. Stronach, Professor Emeritus.

Contact Information

Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures

250 Social Sciences Building

Phone: 510-642-3757

Fax: 510-643-8430

nes@berkeley.edu

Visit Department Website

Department Chair & Faculty Adviser Middle Eastern Modern Worlds

Wali Ahmadi

284 Social Sciences Building

ahmadi@berkeley.edu

Faculty Major Advisor for the Ancient Middle East

Rita Lucarelli, PhD

266 Social Sciences Building

rita.lucarelli@berkeley.edu

Undergraduate Student Services Advisor

Rania Shah, MA

250 Social Sciences Building

Phone: 510-642-3758

rania.shah@berkeley.edu

Graduate Student Services Advisor

Deanna Kiser-Go, PhD

250 Social Sciences Building

Phone: 510-642-4915

dkisergo@berkeley.edu

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