MODMDEST: The Modern Middle East, Real and Imagined: An Introduction

Instructor: Malika Zeghal 

An introduction to Middle Eastern Studies focusing on the modern period (19th and 20th centuries). Lectures will be broadly sequenced according to historical chronology but will be thematically organized. They will provide some historical context for each topic examined, as well as present specific examples through primary sources, visual sources, and numerical data when relevant. This course is designed to give students an overall good grasp of the history of the modern Middle East and of some of the major themes in modern Middle Eastern Studies. Students will critically engage with some of the most important topics that resonate in that area of the world. We will cover topics such as reformism, economic development, colonialism and nationalism, authoritarianism and democratization, sectarianism, culture, gender, literature and the arts, as well as the role of religion in politics. Most of these topics, in one way or another, will speak to the construction of nation-states in the Middle East and to the challenges they have been confronting. This is not a survey course. In particular, it will not be exhaustive in its coverage of the region in space or time, and in its coverage of topics. Students in search of a specific topic, country, or period are strongly encouraged to take a look at the syllabus prior to enrolling to make sure their specific interests will be covered. Assigned readings will consist of primary and secondary sources. Students will be exposed to first-hand accounts by protagonists in the history of the Middle East (primary sources) as well as to the diversity of approaches that the scholarly literature (secondary sources) has taken across disciplines, e.g. anthropological studies, quantitative analysis, philology and textual studies. The larger aim of the course is to develop students’ critical thinking in dealing with the history, cultures, politics, and political economies of the contemporary Middle East.

Required for all NELC concentrators in The Modern Middle East. Other students must request instructor’s permission before enrolling. There are no prerequisites for this course.