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Sunday, Dec. 3
The Indiana Daily Student

academics & research

Stetkevych to leave IU NELC department

Come spring semester, the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures will lose its only professor of classical Arabic literature.

Professor Suzanne Stetkevych has taught at IU since 1985 but will soon start at Georgetown University. She is considered an essential part of the department, Asma Afsaruddin, NELC chair and professor, said.

“Her contributions have been enormous,” Afsaruddin said. “When she leaves, she will leave really an enormous gap in the program.”

Stetkevych has helped increase the amount of NELC students by attracting graduates and undergraduates from around the world, Afsaruddin said. Her Ph.D. students have gone on to academic careers in the Middle East and the United States.

“So she’s basically trained a whole new generation of scholars in the field,” Afsaruddin said.

After receiving her Ph.D. in classical Arabic literature at the University of Chicago, Stetkevych went on to receive several awards such as the Fulbright Foundation Islamic Civilization grant, National Endowment for the Humanities research grant and the Indiana University, Bloomington: Center for the Study of Global Change: Technology Pilot Project grant.

She has also published a number of books including “The Mute Immortals Speak: Pre-Islamic Poetry and the Poetics of Ritual.”

There are more professors teaching modern Arabic literature than classical Arabic literature, Afsaruddin said.

Traditionally, classical Arabic literature has not been viewed as important when studying humanistic traditions, Stetkevych said, which is why the subject is so important to her.

“It’s not something alien and divorced from our tradition,” Stetkevych said. “It is a humanistic tradition like the Western humanistic tradition.”

For others, Stetkevych’s retirement from the department will leave more than just a hole in the curriculum.

“The department will miss a legend,” NELC doctoral student Nana Aba Bentil-Mawusi said.

Bentil-Mawusi said Stetkevych was always willing to listen and give suggestions to help students further their research.

 Bentil-Mawusi recalled a semester where Stekevych was away at Georgetown as visiting faculty. She was not accepting Ph.D. students in her absences, and as many as 60 percent of student applicants specifically requested Stetkevych.

“She is my main person, and she is still prepared to work with me, even from Georgetown,” Bentil-Mawusi said.

Stetkevych’s last day at IU will be Dec. 12. Her new position at Georgetown will be Sultan Qaboos professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies.

“Stetkevych will always be a part of me and my Arabic journey,” Bentil-Mawusi said. “There are people who mark a certain phase in your life, and Stetkevych at this time is the person who has done that for me.”

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