Message from the Chair

Welcome to the Department of Arab and Islamic Civilizations! Ours is one of the earliest programs established at AUC. Amina El Bendary

We offer unique programs that study the literary, material and living heritage of the Arab and Muslim worlds. Our programs deal with the broad Arab-Islamic heritage through coursework on classical and modern Arabic Literature, Middle East History, Islamic Studies and Islamic Art and Architecture. We deal with both classical and contemporary aspects of Arab and Muslim cultural traditions.

We are uniquely placed to teach and research the heritage and legacy of the Arab region and Muslim culture by boasting a number of internationally-renowned faculty members and being located in one of the most exciting Arab cities of all time: Cairo. This allows our students and faculty members to study the material culture of the region in the field and in local museum collections, to consult the archives and library collections of Dar al-Watha’iq al-Qawmiyya and Dar al-Kutub and the numerous manuscript collections in the city, and to meet with Egyptian and Arab authors and filmmakers who visit the city. Our students also have opportunities to hone their Arabic language skills both by studying Arabic formally and by using it in daily and academic life in our programs. We are also lucky to have the Creswell Collection and other rare books and papers housed on our campus in the famous Rare Books and Special Collections Library. Field trips are an essential part of our programs: from historical buildings to museums, to libraries, to theaters and art houses, our students study Arab and Muslim culture first hand and on-site. Summer schools both in Egypt and abroad (such as in Kavala, Greece) are another way in which our students interact with a diverse and international group of scholars.

We offer a BA in Arabic Studies with different specializations, a range of minors, a graduate Diploma in Arabic Studies and an MA in Arabic Studies with four specializations: Arabic Literature, Middle East History, Islamic Studies and Islamic Art and Architecture.

Our faculty and student body are quite international and diverse. While many are Egyptian or American, our department also hosts students and scholars from all over the world: Ireland, England, Switzerland, Belgium, Nigeria, India, Malaysia and Turkey to name but a few countries.

 Our department plays an important role in linking AUC to the wider Egyptian and Arab academic and intellectual contexts. Through our Arabic Cultural Program we host intellectual events related to Arabic culture broadly defined and directed towards the general public. Our Annual History Seminar, held every Spring semester, brings together both early career and established academics from local and international universities to discuss themes of relevance to Egyptian and Arab history.

Our graduates have in the past gone on to pursue interesting life and career trajectories. Many pursued doctoral degrees and careers in education and academia, others working in cultural and heritage management, in journalism and publishing, and the arts.


I look forward to meeting you at our department and at some of our interesting events throughout the year!


Amina Elbendary

Chair, Department of Arab and Islamic Civilizations