The study of the Middle East and Islam at New York University has a long and distinguished history which may well have begun with the university's founding in 1831. It is known that by 1837 the faculty included both a professor of Arabic, Syriac, Persian and Ethiopic, and a professor of Hebrew and Oriental languages; courses were offered in Arabic, Persian, biblical and rabbinic Hebrew, Chaldaic and Syriac. The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Literatures (NELL) was established in 1966; the late Professor R. Bayly Winder served as the department's first chair. Read more