The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures brings together a variety of disparate cultural and linguistic studies, both ancient and modern, into a vibrant interdisciplinary whole. In the NELC department, we make the past come alive. We make cultural studies of the Middle East relevant to undergraduate students and the larger Los Angeles community, and in our graduate programs, we create the next generation of experts in the ancient Near Eastern and modern Middle Eastern region.

The Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (NELC) department sees as its mission the scholarly discovery, interpretation, dissemination, and preservation of the history, practices, and conceptual categories originally from the Near Eastern region, the cradle of human civilization, created over a period of more than 10,000 years and continuing as a font of human innovation and a focus of world attention. NELC concentrates its teaching and research on West Asia and North Africa, a region of the world usually called the Middle East (for modern studies) or the Near East (for ancient studies). Some cultural studies, including Islamic Studies, Jewish Studies, and Iranian Studies, can transcend those geographical boundaries.

The Department offers instruction in all the major ancient and modern languages and civilizations of the Near East – classical and modern versions of Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish, Armenian, including all periods of ancient Egyptian, Akkadian, Aramaic, Old and Middle Iranian, Syriac, Hittite and a variety of Northwest Semitic languages. In order to meet increasing demands for knowledge of the Near East, we treat each language in its broader scholarly perspective: both as a vehicle of historical and cultural transmission and as an object of research itself. Our department has pushed for more emphasis on cultures and not only languages over the past two decades. We thus include among our faculty ranks language specialists, archaeologists, specialists of comparative literature, anthropologists, religious studies specialists, legal researchers, sociologists, and historians. We believe that the importance of teaching and research within the NELC department has gained a pressing significance in light of ongoing destruction of modern and ancient tangible and intangible heritage.

Our outstanding faculty is collectively dedicated to offering high quality graduate and undergraduate education, ground-breaking research and professional service. Students and faculty are affiliated with and supported by several research centers on campus including the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, Global Antiquity, the Center for Jewish Studies, the Center for Near Eastern Studies, the Pourdavoud Institute for the Study of the Iranian World, the Center for the Study of Religion, and the Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies.

The Near Eastern Languages and Cultures faculty is fully committed to making the educational experience as meaningful and enriching as possible. Should you be interested in knowing more about our department, please feel free to contact us. We welcome you to visit our beautiful campus in West Los Angeles, come and sit in on some of our classes and talk to our faculty and students.

Kara Cooney
Chair, Near Eastern Languages and Cultures Department