The Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures (MELC) is a globally recognized epicenter for the interdisciplinary study of the Middle East. MELC prides itself on having renowned scholars and lecturers who passionately contribute excellent research, teaching, and service to the IU community and beyond. Undergraduate and graduate students enjoy a variety of courses that emphasize broad coverage, in-depth historical context, and diverse perspectives. We host a large cohort of graduate students who come from different parts of the world and the Unites States.
Founded in 1965 by Iraqi-American historian Wadie Jwaideh, the then-called Department of Near Eastern Languages and Literatures was a leading destination for the study of the Middle East. The name of the department changed to Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (NELC) in 1980, before it took the current name of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures (MELC) in 2020. As a reminder of our illustrious past, you might still stumble upon the old NELC name somewhere!
Currently, MELC offers courses in the following primary fields: 1) Islamic Studies and Pre-Modern Middle Eastern Cultures, ranging from the classical and medieval periods of Islam and including philosophical and religious thought; 2) Arabic Linguistics and Arabic pedagogy; 3) the Modern Middle East, covering cultures, literatures, histories, politics, Israeli studies; and 4) Pre-Islamic North Africa and East Mediterranean Studies, including the history and archaeology of early Christianity in the Middle East. Our Master's program in Egyptology, led by Professor Steve Vinson, offers unique courses (for both graduate and undergraduate students) that delve deeply into the ancient Egyptian language, literature, and history.
Arabic language at MELC is immersive and native-like experience. We offer comprehensive instruction in both Modern Standard Arabic and Arabic dialects. In recognition for its world-class teaching of Arabic language, MELC has been since 2016 the recipient of the federally funded Flagship grant, which offers a wide range of resources and opportunities for our students, including summer study abroad.
Apart from the pursuit of outstanding education, students of MELC enthusiastically engage in a variety of cultural events each semester. These events encompass Arab cinema nights, musical performances, poetry recitations, shows, and the indulgence in Middle Eastern cuisine! After graduation, they embark on promising careers as scholars or follow career paths in government and in the public and private sectors. In addition to advancing scholarship, our objective at MELC is to see our graduates exhibit global competence and educational understanding of the world’s Middle East.
Ahlan wa Sahlan!
Associate Professor and Chair