2017-18 Catalog

Middle Eastern Studies

Students may complete a concentration in Middle Eastern Studies.

Faculty

Grace Armstrong, Eunice M. Schenck 1907 Professor of French and Director of Middle Eastern Languages
Assef Ashraf, Postdoctoral Fellow in History
Manar Darwish, Instructor of Arabic and Coordinator of the Bi-Co Arabic Program
Sofia Fenner, Assistant Professor of Political Science
Azade Seyhan, Fairbank Professor in the Humanities and Chair and Professor of German and Comparative Literature
Elly Truitt, Associate Professor of History
Sharon Ullman, Professor of History
Alicia Walker, Associate Professor of History of Art on the Marie Neuberger Fund for the Study of Arts and Director of Middle Eastern Studies

The Middle Eastern Studies Program focuses on the study of the area from Morocco to Afghanistan from antiquity to the present day. Students can investigate the history, politics and cultures of the Middle East through coursework, independent study, study abroad, and events here and at neighboring institutions. 

There are two tracks to Middle East Studies Concentration; one requires study or competence in a Middle Eastern language, the other does not.

Track 1

The first track consists of six courses in the Humanities or Social Sciences that focus on the ancient or modern Middle East distributed in the following manner:

  • A basic course that offers a broad introduction to the region and its peoples. When available, students should take Introduction to Middle East Studies (HIST 234) at Bryn Mawr. When this course is not available, students will select a comparable introductory course in consultation with their advisor.
  • Three elective Middle Eastern topic courses, including at least one at the 300 level in a specific area to be chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor. This area might be defined in terms of conceptual, historical, or geographical interests and, in many cases, will be connected to work in the student’s major;
  • Two additional Middle Eastern topic courses, at least one of which must be in either the Humanities or Social Sciences if a student’s work in (1) and (2) does not include one or the other of these;
  • Of the six courses one must be pre-modern in content;
  • Of the six courses only three may be in the student’s major.

Track 2

The second track consists of language study and other courses. Students opting for this track must take the equivalent of two years of study of a modern Middle Eastern language or pass a proficiency exam in one of these languages, whereby they may also meet the standard set for the A.B. degree for the foreign language requirement. Four additional courses distributed as follows are required for the concentration:

  • A basic course that offers a broad introduction to the region and its peoples. When available, students should take Introduction to Middle East Studies (HIST 234) at Bryn Mawr. When this course is not available, students will select a comparable introductory course in consultation with their advisor. 
  • Three elective Middle Eastern topic courses, which meet the following conditions;
    —One course must be in the Social Sciences;
    —One course must be in the Humanities;
  • At least one course must be at the 300 level to be selected after consultation with the student’s advisor so as to expose the student to in-depth study of the Middle East with a geographic, conceptual, or particular historical focus;
  • At least one course must be pre-modern in content;
  • Of the four courses, only two may also form a part of the student’s major.

In addition to offering a concentration, the Program in Middle Eastern Studies also supports students who wish to undertake study abroad (both summer and academic year) or independent study (including independent majors) in the field. To discuss these opportunities, please contact the Program Director.

COURSES

ARCH B104 Archaeology of Agricultural and Urban Revolutions
This course examines the archaeology of the two most fundamental changes that have occurred in human society in the last 12,000 years, agriculture and urbanism, and we explore these in Egypt and the Near East as far as India. We also explore those societies that did not experience these changes.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC); Inquiry into the Past (IP)
Counts towards: Geoarchaeology; Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2017-2018)

ARCH B230 Archaeology and History of Ancient Egypt
A survey of the art and archaeology of ancient Egypt from the Pre-Dynastic through the Graeco-Roman periods, with special emphasis on Egypt’s Empire and its outside connections, especially the Aegean and Near Eastern worlds.
Approach: Inquiry into the Past (IP)
Major Writing Requirement: Writing Attentive
Counts towards: Africana Studies; Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2017-2018)

ARCH B240 Archaeology and History of Ancient Mesopotamia
A survey of the material culture of ancient Mesopotamia, modern Iraq, from the earliest phases of state formation (circa 3500 B.C.E.) through the Achaemenid Persian occupation of the Near East (circa 331 B.C.E.). Emphasis will be on art, artifacts, monuments, religion, kingship, and the cuneiform tradition. The survival of the cultural legacy of Mesopotamia into later ancient and Islamic traditions will also be addressed.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC); Inquiry into the Past (IP)
Counts towards: Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2017-2018)

ARCH B244 Great Empires of the Ancient Near East
A survey of the history, material culture, political and religious ideologies of, and interactions among, the five great empires of the ancient Near East of the second and first millennia B.C.E.: New Kingdom Egypt, the Hittite Empire in Anatolia, the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires in Mesopotamia, and the Persian Empire in Iran.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC); Inquiry into the Past (IP)
Counts towards: Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2017-2018)

COML B225 Censorship: Historical Contexts, Local Practices and Global Resonance
The course is in English. It examines the ban on books and art in a global context through a study of the historical and sociopolitical conditions of censorship practices. The course raises such questions as how censorship is used to fortify political power, how it is practiced locally and globally, who censors, what are the categories of censorship, how censorship succeeds and fails, and how writers and artists write and create against and within censorship. The last question leads to an analysis of rhetorical strategies that writers and artists employ to translate the expression of repression, trauma, and torture into idioms of resistance. German majors/minors can get German Studies credit. Prerequisite: EMLY B001 or a 100-level intensive writing course.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC)
Counts towards: Latin American, Iberian and Latina/o Studies; Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2017-2018)

HART B217 Introduction to Medieval Islamic Art and Architecture
This course traces the development of Islamic art and architecture beginning with the emergence of Islam in the early seventh century and ending with the Mongol invasion and the fall of the Abbasid Empire in the mid-thirteenth century. Special attention is paid to issues of particular importance to medieval Islamic art, including aniconism (the rejection of figural imagery in artistic production), the role of script as an expressive art form, and the relationship of early Islamic art to the artistic traditions of other late antique and medieval cultures. Prerequisites: At least one course in History of Art at the 100 or 200 level, or a course in Middle Eastern Studies at the 100 or 200 level is recommended but not required.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC); Inquiry into the Past (IP)
Counts towards: Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Walker,A.
(Spring 2018)

HIST B123 The Early Medieval World
The first of a two-course sequence introducing medieval European history. The chronological span of this course is from the early 4th century and the Christianization of the Roman Empire to the early 10th century and the disintegration of the Carolingian Empire. This course number was previously HIST B223.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC); Inquiry into the Past (IP)
Counts towards: Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Truitt,E.
(Fall 2017)

HIST B128 Crusade, Conversion and Conquest
A thematic focus course exploring the nature of Christian religious expansion and conflict in the medieval period. Based around primary sources with some background readings, topics include: early medieval Christianity and conversion; the Crusades and development of the doctrines of “just war” and “holy war”; the rise of military order such as the Templars and the Teutonic Kings; and later medieval attempts to convert and colonize Eastern Europe.
Approach: Critical Interpretation (CI); Inquiry into the Past (IP)
Counts towards: Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Truitt,E.
(Spring 2018)

HIST B210 From Empire to Nation-State in the Middle East
The aim of this course is to provide an introduction to the history of the Middle East from the late 18th century until the present. Islam and the classical Ottoman period will be discussed to provide the requisite background for the modern period. From the late Ottoman period onward, we will consider the impact of a series of events - from the incorporation of the Empire into a global economic system, to the rise of ethnic and national politics, the Ottoman reform movement, colonial expansion, the dissolution of the Empire, the emergence of the modern system of states, the Cold War, and the collapse of Soviet power. We will conclude with a discussion of the Arab Spring. Emphasis will be placed on links, continuity, and transitions during this two-hundred year period.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC); Inquiry into the Past (IP)
Counts towards: Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2017-2018)

HIST B234 An Introduction to Middle Eastern History
This course serves as an introduction to the history of the modern Middle East. We will also explore the narratives and debates that have shaped the field of Middle East history. Topics include orientalism, colonialism, political reform, social, cultural, and intellectual movements, nationalism, and the Cold War. Readings will be drawn from the fields of history, anthropology, politics, and literature.
Approach: Inquiry into the Past (IP)
Counts towards: Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Ashraf,A.
(Fall 2017)

HIST B351 Intoxicated Identities: Alcohol Consumption in Mod Mideast
This class aims to show not only that people in the Middle East drink, that is irrefutable, but that the reasons why they did so provide an interesting prism through which to view the history of the region. It will show that the alcohol consumption habits of residents of the Middle East between the years 600 and the present can serve as an excellent entry point for the discussion of many important historiographical issues including constructions of masculinity and femininity, identity formation, youth culture, leisure, and class formation.
Counts towards: Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2017-2018)

POLS B283 Introduction to the Politics of the Modern Middle East and North Africa
This course is a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the politics of the region, using works of history, political science, political economy, film, and fiction as well as primary sources.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC)
Counts towards: Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Fenner,S.
(Spring 2018)

POLS B360 Islam and Politics
This course will strive to answer but also to critique common questions about the role of Islam in political life: Is Islam compatible with democracy? Is Islam bad for women’s or minority rights? Does Islam cause violence? Will including Islamist organizations in democratic politics induce them to moderate their views? And what are the political consequences of asking and debating such questions? More broadly, this course will consider evolving approaches to culture, religion, and ideology in political science, exploring not just the effect of Islam on politics but also the ways in which politics have shaped the Islamic tradition over time. This course is open to all students who have the prerequisites. It also serves as a thesis prep course for political science senior majors. Prerequisite: POLS B283 or instructor consent.
Major Writing Requirement: Writing Attentive
Counts towards: Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Fenner,S.
(Spring 2018)