David Marcus

Lecturer of Arabic

Member Of:
  • School of Modern Languages
Email Address:


Dr. David Marcus has taught Arabic since 1989 at Emory University, the University of North Georgia, Oxford College of Emory, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and, for four summers, Middlebury College’s Summer School of Arabic, under the direction of Dr. Mahmoud Al-Batal, during the creation of the celebrated Al-Kitaab curriculum. Marcus’s language pedagogy targets proficiency in both Spoken and Formal registers of Arabic, as they infuse Arab culture, music, and even food. He facilitates contact between Tech’s Arabic language students and the Arab students on campus, as faculty advisor to both. In addition to Arabic courses, Marcus teaches the original course, As Others See Us: Literature of the Israel and Palestine, as well as ARBC1501, Understanding Arab Culture.,

Marcus’s interests include the pedagogy of Arabic-as-a-Second Language, modern Arabic literature, from the novel to colloquial poetry, comparative Arabic dialectology, and Arabic music. He has worked as a translator and editor from Arabic to English (most recently, for Dr. Carrie Wickham’s The Muslim Brotherhood, Princeton University Press) and has given numerous invited lectures, such as “Omm Kalthoum and Arabic Music” for the Agha Khan Foundation’s Re: Live Conference and “Arabic Protest Music” at Teaching the Middle East VII.  For ten years, Marcus was an Arabic proficiency examiner for Georgia State University Perimeter (Clarkston and Dunwoody).

His study of traditional Arabic music began as a Fulbright Scholar in Cairo, where Marcus taught jazz to Egyptian students, while examining the teaching of taqasim, the art of Arabic musical improvisation. His oud teachers include Dr. Hussein Saabir, Cherbel Rouhana, William Shaheen, and Simone Shaheen, at the latter’s renowned Arabic Music Retreat at Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts. In recent years, Marcus has directed his Marcus East West Ensemble in numerous concerts of Arabic music, at GCSU Milledgeville, Georgia Perimeter College, the Atlanta Arab Festival, the Alif Institute, and Georgia State University, where he created and directed the concert and lecture series, Baghdad in Exile, with Grammy-nominated oud virtuoso Rahim Al-Haj.

Dr. Marcus received the BA from UC Berkeley, the MA in Arab Studies (Arabic Literature concentration) from Georgetown University, the MM in Music Theory from Georgia State University, and the PhD in Music from the University of Georgia, in addition to an Arabic language study certificate from the Center for Arabic Study Abroad at the American University in Cairo. His principal teachers at Georgetown included the novelist Halim Barakat, the historians Hanna Batatu and Judith Tucker, and the social critic Hisham Sharabi. He has traveled, studied, taught, or performed music in Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, and Israel/Palestine.

Dr. Marcus’s second career has been in classical music and jazz, including a PhD dissertation on the composer Claude Debussy, numerous recordings and commissioned compositions, and 14 years of college teaching. 

Marcus is currently working on two long-term projects: (1) a comparative Arabic dialect website and app, for students to hear similar phrases in six major dialects, from Moroccan to Iraqi Arabic; and (2) an introductory book on Arabic music, 50 Classic Arabic Songs, with recordings, transcribed melodies, lyrics, translations, cultural commentary, and sketches of important Arab singers, composers, and instrumentalists. 


Research Fields:
  • Arabic


  • ARBC-1001: Elementary Arabic I
  • ARBC-1002: Elementary Arabic II
  • ARBC-1501: Understand Arab Culture
  • ARBC-1813: Special Topics
  • ARBC-1823: Special Topics
  • ARBC-2001: Intermediate Arabic I
  • ARBC-2002: Intermediate Arabic II
  • ARBC-2811: Special Topics
  • ARBC-2813: Special Topics
  • ARBC-2823: Special Topics
  • ARBC-3001: Advanced Arabic I
  • ARBC-3002: Advanced Arabic II
  • ARBC-3005: Arabic Fantasy
  • ARBC-3401: Persp Arab-Israeli Confl
  • ARBC-3823: Special Topics
  • ARBC-8804: Special Topics
  • LMC-3202: Studies in Fiction
  • LMC-3823: Special Topics Lit/Cult
  • ML-2500: Intro Cross-Cult Studies