Courses

Undergraduate Courses - Fall 2021

Near Eastern Studies

Ancient Egyptian Funerary Culture
Tomb monuments built for the highest status members of ancient Egyptian society comprise one of the most important sources of information on ancient Egyptian civilization. In this course, we will examine many aspects of elite funerary culture, centering the built stone tombs filled with images and texts, while incorporating as well other forms of religious texts, stelae, statuary, and coffins. We will consider questions of ancient Egyptian religious beliefs and conceptions of the afterlife, the role of ritual practices, the changing relationship between high elite officials and the king, and multiple aspects of ancient social identities.
Instructors: Deborah A. Vischak
Near Eastern Humanities I: From Antiquity to Islam
This course focuses on the Near East from antiquity to the early centuries of Islam, introducing the most important works of literature, politics, ethics, aesthetics, religion, and science from the region. We ask how, why, and to what ends the Near East sustained such a long period of high humanistic achievement, from Pharaonic Egypt to Islamic Iran, which in turn formed the basis of the high culture of the following millennium.
Instructors: Johannes Haubold, Daniel Jensen Sheffield
Introduction to the Middle East
A sweep through Middle Eastern history, globally contextualized. Weeks 1-6 treat the rise of Islam, the Caliphate, the Ottoman Empire, 19th-century reforms, European imperialism, and incipient globalization in the region. Weeks 7-12 focus on state-society relations, political ideologies, and foreign actors in the 20th and 21st centuries. You will come away with a basic grasp of the region's past and present and its mix of idiosyncrasies and global links.
Instructors: Michael Allan Cook
The Politics of Modern Islam
This course examines the political dimensions of Islam. This will involve a study of the nature of Islamic political theory, the relationship between the religious and political establishments, the characteristics of an Islamic state, the radicalization of Sunni and Shi'i thought, and the compatibility of Islam and the nation-state, democracy, and constitutionalism, among other topics. Students will be introduced to the complex and polemical phenomenon of political Islam. The examples will be drawn mainly, though not exclusively, from cases and writings from the Middle East.
Instructors: Bernard A. Haykel
Seminar in Research Methods
Introduces NES majors to the sources, tools, and methods used in Near Eastern Studies, and to central questions and debates that have informed the region's study in varying disciplines (history, comparative literature, religious studies, political science, and anthropology). Also covers the nuts and bolts of academic research and writing: how to design a research project, find and make sense of relevant primary and secondary sources, develop an argument, and write a compelling scholarly paper. Includes guest lectures.
Instructors: Eve Krakowski
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
Modern Iran
Why is Iran so often in the headlines? Why is what happens in Iran matters so much to the rest of the world? In this course, we try to find some answers to questions about Iranian politics, culture, recent history and society. The class covers Iran's long twentieth century, from the rise of the constitutional revolution to the Islamic revolution of 1979 and its aftermath.
Instructors: Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi
The World of the Cairo Geniza
The Cairo Geniza is a cache of texts from an Egyptian synagogue that include letters, lists and legal deeds from before 1500, when most Jews lived in the Islamic world. These are some of the best-documented people in pre-modern history and among the most mobile, crossing the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean to trade, study, apprentice and marry. Data science, neural network-based handwritten text recognition and other computational methods are now helping make sense of the texts on a large scale. Students will contribute to an evolving state of knowledge and gain an insider's view of what we can and can't know in premodern history.
Instructors: Marina Rustow
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
Jihadism in the Modern Middle East and Europe
This course provides a detailed survey of the key jihadi groups and ideologies that have taken form in the Middle East since the 1970s. From the Iranian revolution to 9/11, and from Hezbollah to ISIS, it introduces jihadism, including pre-modern Islamic theology and law and the ways in which these have been appropriated and repurposed by jihadi ideologues for political ends. The course also shows how jihadis disseminate their ideas (e.g. journals, pamphlets, books, cassette tapes and CDs, poetry, chants, satellite television shows, online videos, and social media) and considers Sunni and Shi'i jihadi movements.
Instructors: Hugo Jean-Christophe Micheron
The Nature of Reality in Classical Arabic Literature
This course looks at a variety of canonical texts and genres from the Classical Arabic literary heritage and examines them through the question of "truth" and "representation." In a culture that is often said to frown upon fictional writing, we will explore attitudes towards language as a means of gaining knowledge about the world, on the one hand, and as a way to depict "reality," on the other. The texts we will be reading range from pre-Islamic poetry to 13th century shadow plays and cover a wide range of topics, including philosophy, mysticism, and historiography. Readings will be in English. No prerequisites.
Instructors: Lara Harb
Secularism
This course introduces students to classic and recent theoretical debates about secularism and secularization. We will consider a range of historical-ethnographic examples, focusing particularly on the limits of secularism in its modern encounter with Islam and Muslim communities in North Africa, the Middle East, Europe and North America. By comparing the realities of everyday life in a variety of national contexts, we will ask what secularism offers as a human way of experiencing the world, a mode of legitimating norms and constructing authority, and a method of telling stories and creating myths about human values and historical progress.
Instructors: Satyel Larson
Imperialism and Reform in the Middle East and the Balkans
The major Near Eastern diplomatic crises and the main developments in internal Near Eastern history. The focus will be upon the possible connections between diplomatic crises and the process of modernization. Oral reports and a short paper.
Instructors: M. Sükrü Hanioglu
Introduction to Islam
This course is an introduction to Islam survey for undergraduates. The course is framed in terms of Muslims' self-understanding and includes pre-modern, modern, and contemporary sources. It begins in pre-Islamic Arabia and ends with contemporary material. We will use a variety of media, including art, music, and film to emphasize the varieties of Muslim experience and explore the contestations and adaptations of what it means to be Muslim.

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. Class activities are designed to foster communication and cultural competence through comprehension and grammar exercises, skits, conversation, videos and songs.
Instructors: Gregory J. Bell, Nancy A. Coffin
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: Faris Zwirahn
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.
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.
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
Levantine Colloquial Arabic
An introduction to spoken Levantine dialect. Materials in the course are designed to promote functional usage of the language, stressing the vocabulary and grammar of conversation as used in daily life in the Levant, particularly Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan.
Instructors: Faris Zwirahn
Topics in Arabic Language and Culture: Readings in the Arabic Novella
Students in this course will read, analyze and discuss four modern Arabic short novels. Attention will be given to defining the novella genre and its place in modern Arab belles lettres. Students will be expected read approximately 25 pages of Arabic per week (10-15 pages per class meeting) and discuss each reading in Arabic. The course will feature both a midterm and a final paper.
Instructors: Gregory J. Bell

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
Israeli Media: News, Podcasts, Sitcoms, and More
The course "Israeli Media: News, Podcasts, Sitcoms, and More" (HEB 330) - taught entirely in Hebrew - focuses on various forms of Israeli media available through the internet. Discussion in class will focus on news outlets, on various shows and sitcoms, and on other forms of media (Podcasts, Vlogs, Social Media). The goal of the course is to compel students to interact with the Hebrew language (style and grammar) that is used today in Israeli media. Topics covered in the course will focus on current events, day-to-day issues and concerns of Israelis, and forms of entertainment.
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

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
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
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 - Fall 2021

Introduction to the Professional Study of the Near East
A colloquium primarily intended to introduce graduate students to major scholarly trends and debates in the various disciplines and methodologies of Middle East and Islamic Studies.
Instructors: Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi
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
Introduction to Ottoman Turkish
An introduction to the writing system and grammar of Ottoman Turkish through close reading of graded selections taken from school books, newspapers, short stories, and travelogues printed in the late Ottoman and early Republican era.
Instructors: Nilüfer Hatemi
Persian Historiography from the Mongols to the Qajars
This course is designed to introduce advanced students of Persian to later Classical Persian prose from the Mongol conquests of the thirteenth century down to the middle of the nineteenth century, when significant innovations were introduced into Persian literary style. Over the course of the semester, students gain familiarity with texts composed in Iran, India, and Central Asia in a variety of literary genres including history, biography, hagiography, and travelogues. Each week's classes consist of excerpted readings from primary sources along with secondary sources related to the readings.
Instructors: Daniel Jensen Sheffield
Themes in Islamic Law and Jurisprudence
Selected topics in Islamic law and jurisprudence. The topics vary from year to year, but the course normally includes reading of fatwas and selected Islamic legal texts in Arabic.
Instructors: Hossein Modarressi
Studies in Modern Arab History: Readings in Islamic Revivalism, Islamist Politics and Law
This course aims to survey a variety of historical and religious texts in Arabic. Students must have mastery of advanced Arabic. Some of the texts that will be studied have been edited and published, others remain in manuscript form.
Instructors: Bernard A. Haykel
Problems in Late Ottoman History
A study of a number of central problems, historiographical issues, and primary sources relevant to the history of the late Ottoman Empire. Topics vary from year to year.
Instructors: M. Sükrü Hanioglu