Modern Middle East (HIST 107)

Course Description: this course addresses the main economic, political, religious, and cultural trends in the Middle East, beginning with the birth of Islam but focusing primarily on the modern era. Topics covered include the impact of Islamic expansion and empires (premodern and modern) on the region’s modern history; relations with “the West” (European and American powers); the impacts of global capitalism, foreign intervention, and the discovery of oil; intellectual trends like nationalism, feminism, Islamism, and “fundamentalism” and their role in Middle Eastern politics; and the historical origins of political conflicts in Israel-Palestine, Iran, Iraq, and Syria.

This course draws on primary source materials and social historical research methods. In addition to our course texts, we will work with government documents, memoirs, literature, and the arts to address three historical facets: a) the historical events themselves; b) how people experienced this history; and c) how scholars construct historical narratives after-the-fact. Class discussions and written assessments labor towards one course goal: to engage with historical evidence and build original arguments.

Course Syllabus (Fall 2016)

Paper Assignment: Primary Source Paper

Sample Lesson: Wilsonian Moment Haikus and Lecture: 1919 Egyptian Revolution

Selected Course Readings:

  1. Betty S. Anderson, A History of the Modern Middle East: Rulers, Rebels, and Rogues. Stanford University Press, 2016. ISBN: 978-0-8047-8324-5.
  2. Julia Clancy-Smith and Charles Smith, The Modern Middle East: a History in Documents. 1st Oxford University Press, 2013. ISBN: 978-0195338270.
  3. Naguib Mahfouz, Midaq Alley. Anchor Books, 1992. ISBN: 978-0385264761.
  4. Cemal Kafadar, “The Question of Ottoman Decline,” Harvard Middle Eastern and Islamic Review 4, no. 1 (1997), 30-75.
  5. L. Carl Brown, “The Classical Eastern Question,” International Politics and the Middle East, 21-38.
  6. Albert Hourani, “Christian Secularists: Shumayyil and Antun,” in Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age, 244-259.
  7. Akram Khater, “’House’ to ‘Goddess of the House:’ Gender, Class, and Silk in 19th Century Lebanon,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 28 (1996), 325-348.
  8. Nader Sohrabi, “Global Waves, Local Actors: What the Young Turks Knew about Other Revolutions and Why it Mattered,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 44, no. 1 (2002), 45-79.
  9. Ronald Suny, “Truth in Telling: Reconciling Realities in the Genocide of Ottoman Armenians,” American Historical Review 114, no. 4 (2009), 930-46.
  10. Taner Akcam, “What Led to the Decision for Genocide?” A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility, 111-148.
  11. Erez Manela, The Wilsonian Moment, 55-76.
  12. Wadad Makdisi Cortas, A World I Loved: the Story of an Arab Woman, selections.
  13. Ussama Makdisi, Reconstructing the Nation-State: the Modernity of Sectarianism in Lebanon,” Middle East Report 26, no. 3 (1996), 23-26.
  14. Fawaz Gerges, ed, The New Middle East: Protest and Revolution in the Arab World, selections.