2021 CNELC Newsletter

Message From the Chair
Department Spotlights
Department Kudos
Class Notes
Donor Recognition


Message From the Chair

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Greetings CNELC Alumni,

Research and education during the age of COVID-19 have certainly been challenging, but our students, staff and faculty have flourished in the midst of these great challenges. Indeed, our faculty continue to publish research, present papers at academic meetings (virtually) and teach some of GW's most engaged, talented and devoted students. Significantly, even during this pandemic, the number of students enrolled in our classes (within all four of our department's program-units, namely, Arabic, Hebrew, Persian and Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies) has remained high and consistent. We have been so pleased and so grateful for this.

We also have some additional good news. During the fall 2020 semester, our department's "external review" occurred. This is always a major moment in the life of a department, occurring once every five or 10 years. As part of our external review, a trio of distinguished scholars from prominent universities came (virtually) to evaluate our department. Here is the essence of it, in the words of the external reviewers themselves: “In a nutshell, we were very impressed: CNELC is a multi-faceted jewel within the College, distinctive nationally and globally, and a valuable curricular asset to the University more broadly; its faculty are remarkably accomplished, solidary, energetic, and resourceful in spite of current budgetary constraints; its enrollments are at or above national norms.” In short, the external review was a resounding success and a marvelous affirmation of CNELC's work.

The work that we do in the department simply could not occur without our alumni. We are grateful for your time, for your gifts and your thoughtfulness. Thank you!


Christopher Rollston
Chair of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

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Department Spotlights

Faculty Spotlight: Ebtissam Oraby

Ebtissam Oraby





Congratulations to Professor Ebtissam Oraby on the completion of her Doctor of Education degree in curriculum and instruction in GW's Graduate School of Education and Development! Her doctoral dissertation was titled “Reading with My Eyes Closed, Arabic Literature as a Site for Engagement with Alterity: An Ethnographic Study of Arabic Literature Collegiate Classroom.” In essence, her dissertation was a “participant ethnographic study” of a literature class, designed to explore reading of Arabic literature as a site to encounter alterity.

Al-Munjiz: Advanced Business Arabic


Al-Munjiz: Advanced Business Arabic by Mohssen Esseesy





Professor Mohssen Esseesy recently published the content-based textbook titled Al-Munjiz: Advanced Business Arabic, which contains classroom-tested authentic materials which integrates the Arabic language with business content in thematic modules covering business geography, employment, fuel and energy, e-commerce, and tourism. In an interview, he discussed how the book helps fill a critical curricular gap in foreign language education for non-native learners of Arabic.

Uncovering Ancient Earthquake’s Impact on Canaanite Palace



A team of Israeli and American researchers, including Professor Eric H. Cline, uncovered evidence that an earthquake may have destroyed a Canaanite palace at Tel Kabri 3,700 years ago. Their discovery was featured in CCAS Spotlight.

Aerial view showing the Southern Storage Complex (SSC), the Northern Storage Complex (NSC; blue dashed box) and the trench (red dashed lines)
Aerial view showing the Southern Storage Complex (SSC), the Northern Storage Complex (NSC; blue dashed box) and the trench (red dashed lines)



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Department Kudos

  • Professor Diane Harris Cline received the prestigious United States National Archives 2021 Citizen Archivist Award for her outstanding work implementing the FBI case file transcription project in her Digital History course.
  • With funding support from GW-CIBER and CCAS, Professor Mohssen Esseesy led a short-term study in the Sultanate of Oman as part of his Business Arabic class, where the GW students on that trip attended presentations by business leaders and scholars from various fields, engaged in cultural exploration activities which also included Omani university students, and attended a presentation by the U.S. ambassador to Oman at the U.S. Embassy in Oman.
  • Professor Eric H. Cline published the second edition of his book 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed, which was also the focus of an hour-long National Public Radio Podcast. Additionally, Dr. Cline is the editor of the new book series Unearthing the Past, to be published by Princeton University Press.
  • Junior Hebrew students Yonatan Altman-Shafer and Corey Feuer are working with the nonprofit JewishGen’s “Yizkor Project” on translating The Mizoch Memorial Book, a book of testimonies by Holocaust survivors from the Ukrainian (formerly Polish) town of Mizoch. 
  • Junior Latin student Natalie Wright is interning in Mrs. Jane Brinley’s Latin classroom at the School Without Walls—a magnet high school in the D.C. Public Schools system, helping with remote learning activities for students.

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Class Notes

  • Kate Dolan, BA ’73, MPA ’82, heads two groups related to Country Codes at the International Organization for Standardization in Geneva, Switzerland. She works in Washington, D.C. 
  • Alison Fulmer, BA ’12, is a certified archivist with a master's in library and information science. She works as a preservation specialist with the Northeast Document Conservation Center in Andover, Mass.
  • Betsy Malpass, BA ’81, retired from the American Foreign Service in 1995 after serving in Washington, D.C., Bonn, Budapest, Bangkok, Gaborone (Botswana), Nouakchott (Mauritania), Beirut, Athens, Dhaka and San Jose, Costa Rica. She lives in North Carolina. 
  • Max Wolk, BA ’05, spent 10 years as a professional archaeologist and the owner of a cultural resources company. He has now settled in Denver and works as an operations manager in supply chain and manufacturing. 

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Donor Recognition

The Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages & Literatures would like to gratefully acknowledge the following generous donors who made a gift to the department from January 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020. 

+ Faculty/Staff | # Parent | ~ Student | * Friend

Yolande Allen, BA ’70

Elise Friedland +

Michael Weeks +

Kylie Madden, BA ’17

Ricardo Azze, BA ’19

Victoria Day, BA ’14

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