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Hebrew and Arabic Language and Literature

Collection Area

Hebrew and Arabic Language and Literature



The Asian Studies Program at Dartmouth College was expanded in 1987 to include study in Hebrew and Arabic language and literature. The Brownstone Lectureship in Hebrew was established in 1989. During the 1989-90 FY the library received a substantial grant from the Mellon Foundation that was used to purchase basic works in Hebrew and Arabic. In 1995, the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Languages & Literatures (DAMELL) was formed, offering language instruction in Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, and Japanese, as well as courses on their cultures and literatures.

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General Purpose

The collection supports basic undergraduate instructional needs in the languages and literatures of Israel and the Arabic-speaking world. The collection also supports the basic reference needs of faculty. Other aspects of study within the Middle East Studies concentration are covered by other collection development policies, notably, Religion, History, and Government.

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Dartmouth College Program

DAMELL offers majors in Hebrew and Arabic language and literature. The curriculum is designed to accommodate both those with a broad cultural interest in the Middle East and those students whose career aspirations necessitate a linguistic and cultural understanding of those cultures. While some literature courses require a competency in the foreign language, most do not; they are, as such, open to students with little or no background in that area, but there are opportunities for independent advanced study to qualified students. Foreign study in Arabic is available through the Fez, Morocco Program, which is sponsored by the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Program. Foreign study in Hebrew is available at most universities in Israel by special arrangement through the DAMELL and the College Registrar.

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General Subject Boundaries

Materials acquired for Hebrew and Arabic studies are maintained in Baker Berry Library. Most items fall within the Library of Congress PJ classification, but some can be found in the BM, BP, and BJ classifications. Most Hebrew materials in Biblical studies fall under the guidelines of the Religion collection policy. Likewise, Arabic language materials on Islam are covered by the Religion policy.

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Materials in Hebrew & Arabic are often purchased in consultation with the appropriate faculty. Special attention is given to acquiring basic literary and reference works in the vernacular. Priority is also given to major titles in Arabic literature from the Classical period. Literature in English translation is collected when possible to support course offerings. Secondary literature is collected principally in English.

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Geographic Areas

Israel, the Palestinian Autonomous Areas, and the Arabic-speaking world.

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Types Of Material Collected

Emphasis is on primary sources in monograph format. Until the College provides is sufficient funding for library acquisitions, journals and monographic series will be added sparingly. Until then, journals are added under the SASIA fund, which was created to track serials in Asian studies. Arabic and Hebrew newspapers are charged to the SNEWS fund.

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Format Of Materials Collected

Publication in Hebrew and Arabic literature is mainly confined to the traditional formats of books and serials. Videotapes and DVDs on Arabic and Israeli culture and cinema are purchased and kept in the Jones Media Center. The library does own some Hebrew electronic texts on CD-ROM, notably, the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, and Rashi commentaries from DAVKA. Also held are Midrashic and Halakhic literature, Sidurim, and works of Jewish philosophy and ethics, published by D.B.S. in the collection known as Torah Treasures.  The primary index to the journal literature in Jewish Studies is RAMBI, which is freely available on the Web through the Jewish National Library in Jerusalem. The 2007 edition of Encyclopaedia Judaica is online through Thomson Gale. Index Islamicus is available through CSA, and the Encyclopaedia of Islam is available online from Brill. Electronic texts include the Quran, which is available on the Web in English and Arabic, along with recordings of recitation. Basic Hadith collections are available in Arabic and English, and the Library also has the primary scholarly edition, the Encyclopedia of Hadith, which is comprised of a print edition, a CD-ROM database, and variant readings, which are available to users online.

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Special Collections and Manuscripts

By virtue of its colonial beginnings, Special Collections has a number of important early American books that were printed in Hebrew or used Hebrew type. The library also has manuscripts of Hebrew commencement orations written and delivered by Dartmouth students. The college also owns a 19th century Esther scroll. The George M. L. Brown Oriental Collection includes specimens of Arabic manuscripts (14th-19th centuries).

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Other Resources Available

Due to the limited funds for acquisitions in Hebrew & Arabic, the existence of other research collections in New England do not affect the Library's purchasing practices. The Dartmouth collection primarily supports teaching. Faculty and students typically must travel to other collections to do research-level work in Hebrew and Arabic. Several Borrow Direct libraries have research level collections in Hebrew and Arabic, notably Princeton, Yale, Columbia, and Cornell, and Penn. Other collections include Harvard and the Hartford Seminary.

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Revision History

December 1999, Updates and corrections, 2007 (William Fontaine)

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William Fontaine

Last Updated: 8/5/16