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Course Descriptions


Extended Course Description for Spring 2014


193B. Middle East from 1914
This course explores the history of the Middle East from the turn of the twentieth century to the present. Rather than narrate the history of the twentieth century Middle East as a series of wars and conflicts, however, we will focus on the principal cultural, intellectual, political, and social factors that have shaped the countries of the Middle East. Themes include: legacies of imperialism; the late nineteenth century cultural renaissance known as the nahda; the World Wars; Islamic revival; gender; revolutionary movements; politics of oil and war; cultural modernism; and the Arab uprisings. Our focus in the 20th century will be largely on the emergence of anti-colonial nationalist revolutions and post-colonial national regimes. Rather than a comprehensive survey of the history of the M.E., the course will highlight certain countries with the purpose of critically addressing the themes that are dominant in both the scholarly and non-scholarly literature on the region.

Middle East/South Asia Studies

100. Comparative Perspectives
A survey of the ethnographic and historical points of intersection and divergence relating the Middle East to South Asia in the precolonial era. Focus on the comparative history of the Ottoman, Safavid and the Mughal empires, and shared aspects of culture including religion, language, politics, art, literature and music.

Religious Studies

60. Introduction to Islam
This course aims to introduce the students to topics that are central to the Islamic tradition, such as Muhammad, the Qur’an, Islamic law, theology, philosophy, cosmology, worship, and mysticism. Other areas that will be visited include race and gender in Islam, Islamic revival, and varying experiences of Islam in different historical and cultural settings, including the contemporary US.


Extended Course Description for Winter 2014


123. Religion in Society and Culture

This course introduces students to the relationship between religion, society, and culture with an emphasis on several world areas including South Asia, Africa, the US, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. It will focus on some classic essays in the anthropology of religion by scholars such as Victor Turner and Mary Douglas as well as ethnographic/historical studies of religion and culture/society. It will treat topics such as religion and colonialism, the body/senses and religious life, religion and the city, ecology and religious ideas, religion and trans-nationalism, gender and person-hood, religious utopias, and children, youth and religious education. It will also provide examples and cases from Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam, and other traditions.

145. Performance, Embodiment and Space in South Asia

This upper division undergraduate course provides an intensive introduction to a variety of cultures and societies in South Asia. It focuses on issues and processes that have shaped this region and the connections of this region with the world beyond its boundaries. By focusing on embodiment, performance and space, this course moves beyond a static understanding of South Asia and its people as an assemblage of cultural facts and invites a thematic consideration of the region. It draws on perspectives from various fields to illuminate these themes. The readings and films will critically explore the relationship between politics and the body through the life, thought, and practices of Gandhi and Ambedkar; the partition of South Asia; cities and urban cultures, gender, sexuality, and post-colonialism; space, performance, and history; and youth culture, diasporas, and citizenship.



102R. Mughal India

This course is a seminar on the history of Mughal India from the 16th to the 18th centuries. We will focus on various themes (gender, historiography, religion, military, court culture, etc.) but also evaluate certain dominant trends in the field (for instance the sharp focus on individual monarchs). The goal is to become familiar with recent trends, to learn to read scholarship critically, and to learn about one of the wealthiest empires of the Early Modern Period that has left us artistic legacies such as the Taj Mahal.


Extended Course Descriptions for Summer and Fall 2013


1.Elementary Arabic

Introduction to basic Arabic. Interactive and integrated presentation of listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills, including the alphabet and basic syntax. Focus on standard Arabic with basic skills in spoken Egyptian and/or one other colloquial dialect. Shayma Hassouna

21. Intermediate Arabic 21 (5)

Lecture/discussion—5 hours. Prerequisite: course 1,2, 3 or with consent of instructor after taking allparts of course 3 final exam. Builds on courses 1, 2, and 3. Interactive and integrated presentation of listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills, including idiomatic expression. Focus on standard Arabic with limited use of Egyptian and/or one other colloquial dialect.  Shayma Hassouna

 **121 Advance Arabic (4)

Lecture /discussion – 3 hours Prerequisite: course 23 or permission of instructor.  Further development of advanced skills in reading, listening, writing, and speaking standard Arabic through work with texts, video, and audio on cultural and social issues. Limited use of one colloquialdialect.—II. (II.) Radwan


1. The Ancient Near East and Early Greece: 3000-500 B.C.E. (4)

Lecture—3 hours; term paper. Introduction to the literature,art, and social and political institutions of ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Palestine, and early Greece from 3000 to 500 B.C.E. GE credit: ArtHum, Wrt.—(II.)Berlinski


1. Elementary Hebrew (5)

Lecture/discussion—4 hours; laboratory—1 hour. Speaking, listening, comprehension, reading and writing fundamentals of modern Hebrew. (Students who have successfully completed, with a C- or better, Hebrew 2 or 3 in the 10th or higher grade in high school may receive unit credit for this course on a P/ NP grading basis only. Although a passing grade will be charged to the student’s P/NP option, no petition is required. All other students will receive a letter grade unless a P/NP petition is filed.)—I. (I.)

21. Intermediate Mod Hebrew I (5)

Lecture/discussion—5 hours. Prerequisite: course 3 or consent of instructor. Development and refinement of grammar, composition, and language skills required for reading literary texts and conversing about contemporary topics at an advanced level. History of the Hebrew language. Not open to students who have taken courses 100 or 100A.—I. (I.)


1. Elementary Hindi/Urdu I (5)

Lecture/discussion—5 hours. An introduction to Hindi and Urdu in which students will learn vocabulary and grammar in both Devanagari and Urdu scripts, and will practice skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening.—I. (I.) 

21. Intermediate Hindi/Urdu (5)

Lecture/discussion—5 hours. Prerequisite: course 3. An intermediate level course for students who have completed Elementary Hindi/Urdu or the equivalent. Students will continue to practice their skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing in Hindi and  Urdu.—I. (I.)


HIS 6 – Introduction to the Middle East

Instructor: Baki Tezcan, This course is a survey of the major social, economic, political, and cultural transformations in the Middle East from the rise of Islam (c. 600 CE) to the present.  Some of the topics covered are Muhammad and the Qur'an, the formation of Islamic orthodoxy, the Abbasid Empire, the formation of regional dynasties, the Crusades, the Mongol invasions, the Ottoman Empire, the colonial period, nationalism, the formation of the modern Middle Eastern states, the Islamic political movements, the Israeli - Palestinian conflict, the invasion of Iraq, and the Arab Spring. GE credit: ArtHum or SocSci, Div, Wrt | AH or SS, WC, WE.Textbook: Arthur Goldschmidt Jr. and Lawrence Davidson, A Concise History of the Middle East, tenth edition (Boulder: Westview, 2012). Further readings will be identified in the syllabus. 

112C- Jews among Muslims: The History and Cultures of the "Sephardim"

Professor: Susan Miller

Jews and Muslims have coexisted in the Mediterranean and the Middle East for more than a thousand years--- sometimes in harmony, other times in conflict, but always with intensity. This course traces Jewish-Muslims relations from their origins in early Islam to the present, focusing on the cultural group known as “Sephardim.” Topics include: legal structures for co-existence, the medieval consensus, the rise of Jewish and Arab nationalism, the impact of Zionism, new diasporas of the twentieth century, the Palestine conflict, Sephardim in Israel, and Muslim-Jewish relations in America.


Readings: Sasson Somekh, Baghdad Yesterday

                           Albert Memmi, Pillar of Salt
                           Andre Aciman, Alexandria, Capitol of Memory

                   Orit Bashkin, The New Babylonians

                   Salim Tamari, Mountains Against the Sea

113. History of Modern Israel (4)

Lecture—3 hours; term paper. Topics include the rise and fall of utopian Zionism, the century-long struggle between Jews and Arabs, the development of modern Hebrew culture, the conflict between religious and secular Jews, and the nature of Israel’s multicultural society. GE credit: ArtHum, Div, Wrt.—II. (II.)


115F-The History of the North African World 

Professor Miller

The history of the modern Maghrib (North Africa) has been deeply marked by the experience of colonization. For many years, critical scholarship on the colonial Maghrib focused on big events, “great men,” and political outcomes; in so doing, it often reduced a complex encounter into a series of simple oppositions: colonizer/colonized, white/black, European/native. More recent scholarship pays greater attention to the bit actors, the women and minorities, and the marginal figures that made “history from below,” generating fresh questions for historical discussion: How did Maghribis regard their colonial masters, and how did Europeans in turn restructure their ideas about the  native “Other” over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries?  How did Maghribi culture influence society in the metropole?  What role did language and literature play in shaping colonial and indigenous mentalities?  What institutions and practices introduced by foreign rule had a lasting effect on post-independence regimes?  What roles do memory and forgetting play in writing the contemporary history of the region?  Proceeding more or less chronologically, each week we shall engage with a different problem relating to the North African colonial experience and its aftermath.  Film and fiction will give us a “feel” for how individuals traversed this long moment in Maghribi history.


READINGS:         Alexis de Tocqueville, Writings on Empire and Slavery

Albert Memmi, The Colonizer and the Colonized

                                Mu’ammar al-Gathafi  (Qaddafi)   The Green Book 

                                Muhammad al-Saffar, Dusorienting Encounters

                                Tahar Ben Jelloun, This Blinding Absence of Light

                                Susan Slyomovics, The Performance of Human Rights in Morocco


GRADING:           TBA

193D. History of Modern Iran 1850-Present

Modern Iran from the mid 19th century to the present. Themes include the legacy of imperialism, cultural renaissance, the World Wars, nationalism, modernization, Islamic revival, gender, revolutionary movements, politics of oil and war. 



Middle East/South Asia Studies

181A Iranian Persian Studies (4) - MODERN IRAN (Iran since Islamic Revolution) Course Description:

This course is intended to give the students a broad understanding of modern Iran and how she has changed or in some respects has remained remarkably the same over the years. The course will give a brief historical development of Iran from its ancient time till the introduction of Islam. Then it will discuss the impact of Islam on Iranian society. It also covers in brief the Pahlavi dynasty and the rise and fall of Mosadegh in the early 1950s. The roots of the Iranian revolution and the role of clergy particularly Ayatollah Khomeini will be examined. Iranian Constitution, political structure and political players within and without Iran will be examined.

The course will also provide an overview about ethnic and tribal groups and their cultures, and a brief a history of religious minorities including Jews and Armenians as well. 

Thematic topics considered will include continuity and change in traditional social structure, the conflict between clergy and state. Furthermore, the role of Iran in international affairs, including the course of U.S.-Iranian relations and historical factors which have led to the U.S. – Iran confrontations and prospects for their reconciliation, will also be considered. This course will address a number of questions including: What are the historical and root causes of Iran’s behavior as a regional and global player in the modern era? What are the elements of continuity and the forces for change in Iran’s foreign policy as Tehran faces domestic challenges, international sanctions, seek to re-establish cultural, economic, and political ties with the Central Asian states, South America and Africa and confronts instability in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Caucasus and its Persian Gulf neighbors? What are the prospects for Iran’s changing regional role? 


180 Afghanistan at the Crossroads of the World (4)

This course focuses on the history of Afghanistan from about 1500 to present. Its aim is to place this history beyond the limits of the modern nation state and show its connections to broader history of the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia, and later on Europe and America.



 129B. Musics of Africa, Middle East, Indian  Subcontinent (4)

Lecture—3 hours; discussion—1 hour. Prerequisite: course 3A or 3B recommended. Survey of music cultures with special emphasis on the role of music in society and on the elements of music (instruments, theory, genres and form, etc.). Introduction to ethnomusicological theory, methods, approaches. Not offered every year. GE credit: ArtHum, Div, Wrt.—


Religious Studies

21. Hebrew Scriptures (4)

Lecture—3 hours; term paper. Selected texts from the Hebrew Scriptures (Genesis—II Chronicles) and review of modern scholarship on the texts from a variety of perspectives (historical, literary, sociological, psychological). Course work is based on an English translation and no knowledge of Hebrew is required. GE credit: ArtHum, Div, Wrt.—I. (I.)

65C. The Qur’an and Its Interpretation (4)

Lecture/discussion—3 hours; extensive writing. TheQur’an, its history, its various functions in the lives of Muslims, and its different interpretations. Quranic themes such as God and humankind, nature and revelation, eschatology and Satan. Islam and other religions; women, gender, and sexuality. Offered in alternate years. GE credit: ArtHum, Div, Wrt.—(III.)

68. Hinduism (4)

Lecture—3 hours; writing. Hindu tradition from ancient to modern times. Multiplicity of religious forms within Hinduism with mention of Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism and their relation to the mainstream of Hindu religion. Offered in alternate years. GE credit: ArtHum, Div, Wrt.—I.

160 – Introduction to Islamic Thought

Instructor: Baki Tezcan,

This course surveys several trends within Islamic thought from the first centuries of Islam to the eighteenth century. Topics and authors covered include theology, philosophy, ethics, Sufism, historiography, political theory, al-Farabi, al-Ghazzali, Ibn Rushd, Tusi, Ibn al-Arabi, Rumi, Molla Sadra, Ibn Khaldun, and Ibn Abd al-Wahhab. 

Textbook: Majid Fakhry, A History of Islamic Philosophy, third ed. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004). Further readings will be identified in the syllabus.



NOTE: **Courses that can be petitioned for ME/SA Major or Minor.
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