The Middle East Seminar Room
The Middle East Seminar Room houses nearly 2,000 volumes of core reference materials for Arabic Literature, Islamic Studies and History of the Middle East. It was first established in the 1980s under the vision of Professor George Makdisi, and was remodeled in 2002. A networked public computer workstation was added in 2005 and is configured for Arabic and Persian keyboarding. The workstation also includes a number of pre-loaded CD-ROM databases for Arabic poetry, Islamic law and Islamic texts including Qur'anicTafsir and Hadith.
The Notables of the Seminar Room
Visitors of the Middle East Seminar Room will notice portraits of some of Penn's faculty members who have contributed to the legacy of Middle Eastern Studies at University of Pennsylvania. These include:
Dr. George Makdisi (1920-2002): Emeritus Professor of Arabic & Islamic Studies in the Department of Asian & Middle Eastern (formerly Oriental) Studies. Dr. Makdisi taught at Penn from 1973 until his retirement in 1990. It was under his direction that the original Middle East Seminar Room was created. Among his most important contributions to the field are al-Wadih fi Usul al-Fiqh, The Rise of Colleges and The Rise of Humanism.
Dr. Thomas Naff (b. 1929): Professor, Middle East History (1967-2000), Director, Middle East Center (1967-1985). An authority on water resources in the Middle East, Dr. Naff was the originator and director of Penn's Middle East Research Institute which later became the Middle East Water Information Network and finally, the IES Water Resources Database. Among his important contributions to scholarship are: Water in the Middle East : conflict or cooperation? and Paths to the Middle East : ten scholars look back.
Dr. Roger M.A. Allen is Emeritus Professor of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations (Modern Arabic Literature). He was a professor at Penn from 1968 till 2011. Allen served as the chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations between 2005 and 2011 and he was the President of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA) in the academic year 2009-2010. Between 2008 and 2009, his former students participated with the editors of three of the journals with which Roger Allen has been associated
— Middle Eastern Literatures, Al-'Arabiyya, and the Journal of Arabic Literature — in the publication of a series of literary studies and translations in the form of a three-part festschrift. Some of his recent publications include a translation of Hanan al-Shaikh's The Locust and the Bird, and translations of Naguib Mahfouz's Khan al-Khalili and Karnak Café.