Courses

Undergraduate Courses - Spring 2019

Arabian Nights
The Arabian Nights (The Thousand and One Nights) is a masterpiece of world literature. However, its reception and popularity are fraught with challenges and problems. This course traces the origins of this authorless collection, examines its transmission in the Arabic tradition, and its entry into Europe. Students will read some of its most famous story cycles and become familiar with the major debates surrounding them. Besides reading related literary works from medieval Arabic literature, we will look at the influence of the Nights on modern authors and filmmakers. All readings will be in English.
Instructors: Lara Harb
The Idea of Iran: History, Memory, and the Making of a Cultural Identity
Course introduces the history of the Iranian world through the lens of historical memory. Study primary sources from the ancient, medieval, and modern periods as they think critically about the notion of "Iranian civilization." Themes range from geography and ethnicity to art and poetry to kingship and revolution. Gain hands-on experience working with archival and visual material through class trips to libraries and museums in and around Princeton. Approaches to large-scale problems in the study of history will be introduced, and by the end of the course, students will gain insight into the relevance of Iranian history in the present.
Instructors: Daniel Jensen Sheffield
Sufism
This course examines Sufism or what is often called the mystical tradition in Islam. In Western media and popular discourse, Sufism is often portrayed as the 'soft-side' of Islam that is contrasted with the harsh 'legalism' of the Shari`a or Islamic law. In this class, we will try to interrupt this portrayal through a rigorous exercise of textual and conceptual interrogation. Using primary Sufi texts and sources of Euro-American scholarship on Sufism, we will explore the institutional and intellectual history, meditation and disciplinary practices, poetry and literature, as well as orientalist and neo-imperialist representations of Sufism.
Instructors: Tehseen Thaver
US Foreign Policy and the Middle East since 1979
This seminar examines the evolution of American diplomacy and military policy in the Middle East from the late Cold War through the "Unipolar movement" and 9/11 to the very recent past. Given the militarization of American policy, it pays particular attention to the use of force. It asks why military force has become the defining instrument of US foreign policy in this region, seeks to evaluate the efficacy of America's military interventions, and to identify the sources of American conduct. Prior coursework in international relations and Middle Eastern history is beneficial but there are no prerequisites.
Instructors: Michael Anthony Reynolds
Muslims in France and Europe Before and After the Terror Attacks
Since the attack against a Jewish school in March 2012, France has experienced, as have other countries, traumatic terror attacks. Most of these acts have been perpetrated by French and Belgian citizens of North African descent claiming to be acting in the name of jihadi groups such as ISIS. This course aims at understanding this terrible violence by relocating its authors in a French and European context since the 1970s. Above all, beyond the enigma of the terrorists, this course will explore a broader issue: the very diverse situation of the Muslims in France in an era of uncertainty, racial divide, and political contentions.
Instructors: M'hamed Oualdi
Interpreting the Qur'an: Text, Context, and Materiality
This course will involve a close reading of the Qur'anic text and its interpretive traditions. The course will also go beyond approaching scripture as a bounded, collected, literary text, by examining the ritual, experiential and material encounters between the Qur'an and Muslim communities. How does the Qur'an operate within societies? What are its multiple functions? How are the controversial verses often associated with the Qur'an interpreted? Through a critical engagement with categories like "scripture," and "interpretation" students will be introduced to larger debates on hermeneutics and material culture within the study of religion.
Instructors: Tehseen Thaver
The Arab-Israeli Conflict
This course examines the fascinating and tragic history of the encounter and conflict between Jews and Arabs in and around Palestine/Israel beginning in the late 19th century. We will try to understand the evolution of the conflict from the distinct perspectives of the different parties engaged in it, aiming to comprehend their motivations and the obstacles that have stood in the way of a peaceful resolution. The course is structured around questions, inviting students to partake in the challenging task of exploring one of the world's most complex, ever-developing and enduring political conflicts.
Instructors: Jonathan Marc Gribetz
Islamic Family Law
This course examines the oulines of Islamic family law in gender issues, sexual ethics, family structure, family planning, marriage and divorce, parenthood, child guardianship and custody, etc. The course starts with a general survey of Islamic legal system: its history and developments, structure and spirit, and the attempts of the Muslim jurists to come to terms with the challenge of time.
Instructors: Hossein Modarressi
Zionism: Jewish Nationalism Before and Since Statehood
Are the Jews a separate nation? Should they have their own country? Where should it be located? This course investigates why Jews and non-Jews alike began asking these questions in the late eighteenth century and explores the varieties of answers they offered. The course's focus is on those who insisted that the Jews were a nation that required a state in the Jews' historic homeland. We will try to understand why these people - known collectively as Zionists - came to these conclusions, and why many others disagreed. The final part of the course will address debates within the State of Israel about what it means to be a "Jewish state."
Instructors: Jonathan Marc Gribetz
Global Feminisms: Feminist Movements in the Middle East and Beyond
This course explores how feminist thought & activism circulates globally by examining a variety of feminist movements in the Middle East & North Africa. Beginning with modern feminist thought and activism in mid-19th century Syria & Egypt, we'll trace feminist movements in various contemporary contexts, from Morocco, Iran, Turkey, Tunisia, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon & Egypt in the 20th century, to women's participation in the Arab Spring and transnational Islamic movements in the 21st century. We'll map the local and geopolitical discourses that have shaped regional feminisms, and ask how local feminisms are transnational or global.
Instructors: Satyel Larson
Medieval Cairo: A Survival Guide
How can we reconstruct quotidian life in premodern society? This course takes history to the micro-level, with rigor. Sometimes simple questions (what did people eat, wear, do for a living? whom did they marry?) can be the most challenging to answer. Our laboratory will be medieval Cairo, a burgeoning metropolis astride the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean trade routes and an excellent place for take-out food. You will contribute to an evolving state of knowledge through letters and other documents written by the men and women of medieval Cairo, and through hands-on experiments, including paper-making, cooking and eating.
Instructors: Marina Rustow
Colonialism, Post-Colonialism and Islam: North Africa (1830-2019)
This course explores the history of North Africa, an area undergoing radical political turmoil since the beginning of the Arab spring in January 2011. It analyzes the colonial and postcolonial transformations of the Maghrib from the 19th to the first decade of the 21st century. Through a range of secondary and primary sources, the purpose of the course is to give an overview of the colonial effects and legacies on and in North African societies, but also to start questioning the colonial period as a framework of analysis.
Instructors: M'hamed Oualdi
Modern Iran
This course surveys major themes in the history of modern Iranian politics and society beginning in the 19th century and ending in the present. Topics to be explored include national identity, imperialism and interaction with the West, Islamic government, monarchism, constitutionalism, revolution, gender, Shi'a religious culture, religious diversity and post-revolutionary reformist and conservative thought and politics. Though focusing on the Iranian context, the course addresses questions asked by thinkers across the Muslim world in the modern period, questions that concern their relationship with the West, with Islam, and with modernity.
Instructors: Nura Alia Hossainzadeh
The Ottoman Empire, 1300-1800
This course surveys the history of the world's most enduring Islamic state, the Ottoman Empire, from its beginnings in the fourteenth century to the advent of reform in the early 19th century. At its height, the Ottoman Empire ruled over the Middle East, the Balkans, modern day Turkey, Central Europe and much of the Mediterranean. The history of the Ottoman Empire is essential in understanding the modern Middle East and the Balkans.
Instructors: Molly Greene
The Late Ottoman Empire
This course focuses on the Westernization movement, Ottoman administrative reforms, Young Ottoman, Young Turk, and ethnic-nationalist movements. In addition great diplomatic crises of 19th and 20th century and the emergence of modern Turkey will be examined.
Instructors: Mehmed Sükrü Hanioglu

ARABIC

Elementary Arabic I
This class develops the basic structures and vocabulary for understanding, speaking, writing and reading Modern Standard Arabic, the shared formal variety of Arabic used throughout the Arab world. Students will also gain some familiarity with both Egyptian and Syrian colloquial dialects. Classroom activities are designed to foster communication and cultural competence through comprehension and grammar exercises, skits, conversation, and the use of a variety of audio-visual materials.
Instructors: Nancy A. Coffin, Faris Zwirahn
Intermediate Arabic I
This course builds on the skills developed in Elementary Arabic. Students in this course work to improve their proficiency in speaking, listening, reading and writing. We will focus primarily on Modern Standard Arabic in reading and writing, but Levantine and/or Egyptian dialect will be used in informal speaking and listening exercises.
Instructors: Gregory J. Bell, Tarek Farag Elsayed, Thomas Henry Hefter
Intermediate Arabic II
Study of Arabic grammar and syntax, and use of the language in functional contexts. Reading of extra material from articles, newspapers, short stories. Discussions are held in Arabic to enhance students' speaking skills.
Instructors: Gregory J. Bell, Nancy A. Coffin, Thomas Henry Hefter
Advanced Arabic I
Development of speaking, listening, reading and writing at the upper-intermediate to advanced levels of proficiency. Course is taught primarily in Arabic.
Instructors: Thomas Henry Hefter
Media Arabic I
In this course, students will develop their skills in reading and listening to Arabic news media, including newspapers, magazines, websites, radio and satellite TV broadcasts (including BBC and al-Jazeera, among others). Attention will also be given to informal discussion of current news, and we will also take a brief look at political cartoons. Language of instruction will be primarily Arabic.
Instructors: Hannah Essien
Egyptian Colloquial Arabic
An introduction to the spoken dialects of Egypt, particularly of Cairo. Students in this course are assumed to have a functional, working knowledge of classical Arabic, and the course will focus on developing the ability to use conversational language in common, everyday situations.
Instructors: Tarek Farag Elsayed
Topics in Arabic Language and Culture: The Modern Debate between Secularists and Islamists in the Arab World
This course will focus on readings on the modern debate between Islamists and secularists. Students will develop their skills in listening, speaking, writing and reading through the analysis and discussion of texts by Arab authors of religious and secular outlook. Assignments will focus on improving comprehension and developing compositional and analytical skills. Students will complete an independent project in Arabic throughout the semester, focusing on a particular author.
Instructors: Tarek Farag Elsayed

HEBREW

Elementary Hebrew I
This course is designed for students with little or no previous exposure to modern Hebrew. Over the fall semester, students will become familiar with the Hebrew alphabet, and acquire rudimentary skills in reading, writing, speaking and comprehending modern Hebrew. By the end of the semester, students will be able to read short texts, construct normative sentences, and conduct simple conversations. In addition, a wide range of audiovisual materials will provide the students with an immersive environment, contextualize their knowledge of the language, and help them gain an understanding of life and culture in Israel.
Instructors: Philip Zhakevich
Intermediate Hebrew I
This course is designed for students who have completed basic modern Hebrew language courses, and aims at further developing reading, writing, speaking and comprehending skills. Emphasis will be placed on grammar and syntax, on conversational skills, and on creative writing. By the end of the Fall term students will be able to read and analyze literary texts, respond to and discuss contemporary media contents (films, journal and newspaper articles, blogs), to give class presentations and write short essays.
Instructors: Philip Zhakevich
From Shai Agnon to Etgar Keret: A Survey of Modern Hebrew Literature
This course, taught in Hebrew, traces modern Hebrew literature from the 1930's until today. Discussion in class will focus on the language and themes of this literature. The goal of the course is to give students an understanding of the development of Modern Hebrew literature of the 20th and 21st centuries, while exposing the students to the historical issues that concerned the writers of Modern Hebrew literature at the time of their writing. All texts will be in Modern Hebrew, which will not only strengthen the students' grasp of Hebrew in general but will also expose students to the various styles of literary Hebrew.
Instructors: Philip Zhakevich

PERSIAN

Elementary Persian I
The focus of this elementary course is on sounds, letters and basic grammar of Persian language. The students will be exposed to the Persian culture through selected prose, daily news and class discussions.
Instructors: Amineh Mahallati
Intermediate Persian I
PER 105 is designed to introduce students to intermediate level Persian. It stresses oral fluency, written expression, and reading comprehension. It will help the students to read texts of intermediate level difficulty communicate and converse in Persian in everyday situations write intermediate narrative style paragraphs coherently with reasonable accuracy.
Instructors: Amineh Mahallati
Advanced Persian Reading I
This course is designed to improve the student's proficiency in the reading and comprehension of Persian texts. The emphasis is on reading and understanding and translating modern and classical prose. In the Advanced Persian course students are also expected to write essays in Persian during the course of the semester. Advanced Persian Reading class will be conducted in Persian.
Instructors: Amineh Mahallati
Advanced Persian Reading II: Modern Persian Prose
This course focuses on modern Persian prose. It is the continuation of 302, and is designed to improve the student's proficiency in the reading and comprehension of Persian texts. The emphasis is on reading, understanding, and translating modern prose. The class is conducted in Persian.
Instructors: Amineh Mahallati

TURKISH

Elementary Turkish I
A performance-oriented, multi-media introductory course in modern spoken and written Turkish. Based on authentic input, grammatical properties of the language are introduced. Cultural aspects are stressed throughout. Language skills are developed through communicative activities in class and individualized work with interactive digitized learning aids.
Instructors: Nilüfer Hatemi
Intermediate Turkish I
Extensive exposure to current news, authentic multimedia sources; in-depth review of grammar. Introduction to modern Turkish literature, with close reading of selected prose and poetry. Development of all language skills and cultural understanding is emphasized.
Instructors: Nilüfer Hatemi

Graduate Courses - Spring 2019

An Introduction to the Islamic Scholarly Tradition
The course offers a hands-on introduction to such basic genres of medieval scholarship as biography, history, tradition, and Koranic exegesis, taught through the intensive reading of texts, mostly in Arabic. The syllabus varies according to the interests of the students and the instructor.
Instructors: Michael Allan Cook
Ottoman Diplomatics: Paleography and Diplomatic Documents
An introduction to Ottoman paleography and diplomatics. The documents will be in divani and rika scripts.
Instructors: Mehmed Sükrü Hanioglu
The Maqamat
This course introduces students to the medieval Arabic genre of the maqamat. We read maqamat by al-Hamadhani (d. 398/1008) and al-Hariri (d. 516/1122) and discuss the relevant secondary scholarship. Towards the end of the semester, we also read examples of maqamat by other authors, including the Andalusian al-Saraqusti and the pious maqamat of al-Zamakhshari, as well as touch on the maqama in Hebrew and Persian. Students could choose to focus on one of these authors for their final projects or explore a new author altogether. Advanced knowledge of Arabic required.
Instructors: Lara Harb
Intermediate Syriac
The aim of the course is to provide the linguistic skills and the academic tools that are necessary to carry out research in Syriac Studies. The first session deals with the transcription of Syriac and presents an overview of the basic resources for academic research. The rest of the course centers on a selection of Syriac texts and addresses fundamental notions of literature, culture, and history.
Instructors: George Anton Kiraz
Historical Sociology and Middle Eastern Societies
This course provides an introduction to issues of theory, approach, and evidence in the field of historical analysis. It combines methodological topics with theoretical concerns about the questions of time and temporality. The course offers a review of different approaches to historical sociology and conceptual issues that have shaped this field. The overall objective is to help students understand, appreciate, and critique the field by close readings of a number of recent works that address different topics related to Near Eastern societies from different disciplinary perspectives.
Instructors: Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi
Sex and Secularism
This course approaches the study of secularism from the perspective of gender and sexuality in Islam and the Middle East. We examine the comparative methods of anthropologists and historians and explore theoretical debates around secularization and secularism, focusing on the production of sexual difference in science and medicine, religion, political economy, subjectivity, embodiment, law, politics, state governance, family and kinship. Readings combine texts on the Middle East and Muslim Communities outside the Middle East with theoretical texts on secularism outside of these regions.
Instructors: Satyel Larson
Readings in Judeo-Arabic
Introduction to the Judeo-Arabic documents of the Cairo Geniza, including personal and business letters, legal testimonies and other ephemera of the tenth through thirteenth centuries. Students learn the Hebrew alphabet, the peculiarities of middle Arabic, diplomatic technique, research methods, manuscript paleography, digital tools and the existing literature. They also have the opportunity to contribute to an evolving state of knowledge by writing up unpublished texts for an online database.
Instructors: Marina Rustow
Readings on World War One and the Middle East
The study of the Middle East in World War I has advanced rapidly over the course of the past decade. This course surveys the burgeoning literature on WWI in the Middle East and addresses such questions as how did Ottoman strategic performance impact the war; what was the experience of "total war" in the Middle East and how did it shape governance; what was the relationship between war and imperial collapse; and what are the motives for demographic engineering and mass killing? No prerequisites.
Instructors: Michael Anthony Reynolds
Problems in Near Eastern Jewish History: Judaism after the Talmud
Most varieties of late ancient Judaism disappeared after late antiquity, leaving rabbinic Judaism challenged only by Karaism (a medieval anti-rabbinic movement). This course examines this shift, focusing especially on the role played by the Babylonian Talmud's canonization and circulation throughout the Near East. Students will learn to work with the medieval Jewish scholastic genres that developed around and against the Talmud (rabbinic responsa, commentaries, and digests, as well as Karaite exegesis), consider material evidence for these texts' production and consumption, and survey their historical contexts and parallels.
Instructors: Eve Krakowski
Readings in Modern Arabic Literature
This advanced reading course surveys the development of modern Arabic prose fiction from the 19th century nahda (Arabic renaissance) to the present. Special attention is devoted to questions of language and style, alongside discussions of major thematic concerns and the interaction of literature and society. All reading assignments are in the original Arabic, though English translations are available as a study aid. Open to qualified undergraduates with instructor's permission.
Instructors: Lital Levy
Studies in Islamic Religion and Thought
This course focuses on reading texts that are illustrative of various issues in Muslim religious thought. The texts are selected according to students' needs.
Instructors: Hossein Modarressi
Khomeini's Islamic Republic
In this seminar, we probe the idea of an "Islamic Republic," both in the writings of the most prominent leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and in the writings of modern and contemporary Iranian thinkers and political figures. We engage in an extensive study of Khomeini's theory of Islamic government, as well as a study of scholars who influenced him. We also study political debates in the decade after the Revolution over what institutions should comprise an Islamic government. The course ends with a study of reformist and conservative theories of state in contemporary Iran.
Instructors: Nura Alia Hossainzadeh
Late Medieval-Early Modern Islam
This seminar focuses on Islamic thought and society during the 17th and the 18th centuries. Our key concerns are two: to understand what Islam, and Islamic thought, looked like in the late medieval and the early modern world; and to think about how we should try to approach the study of Islam in that world. A good deal of our focus is on South Asia, though we also read about other regions, including Iran and the Arab Middle East. The required readings are in English. For those interested, some weeks might have supplementary readings in Arabic as well.
Instructors: Muhammad Qasim Zaman