Thursday, January 13, 2011

Modern Middle East Syllabus

For those interested in such things, here's my new "Modern Middle East" history syllabus:

HIS 344: The Modern Middle East
206 Dauphin Humanities Center, MWF 11:00 a.m.
Dr. Brian J. Ulrich

Office: 201 Dauphin Humanities Center, ex. 1736
Office Hours: 10 – 10:50 a.m. MWF, 1-3:30 p.m. W

Required Texts:

The Middle East: A History, 7th Ed., William Ochsenwald and Sydney Nettleton Fisher
Frontiers of the State in the Late Ottoman Empire, Eugene Rogan
The Israel-Palestine Conflict: Contested Histories, Neil Caplan

Additional Text:

The Modern Middle East: A History, James L. Gelvin: This book will serve as our main primary source reader, and is on reserve in Lehman Library. Page numbers on this syllabus refer to the first edition. Students using the second edition should add three to pages numbers higher than 268.

Course Overview:

This course will cover the history of the Middle East from the late 18th century to the present. It is divided into two sections. The first half will deal with the region during a long 19th century characterized by rapid transformations analogous to those found elsewhere in the world with the shift from an agrarian to an industrial social order. In particular, we will emphasize the rising significance of Europe for the Middle East, the forms of colonialism found in the Middle East and North Africa, developments within Middle Eastern society and culture, and the articulation of new political concepts and ideologies which have continuing importance in the region. At the end of this section of the course, students will have an appreciation for events and developments which loom large in the Middle Eastern historical memory, an understanding of key concepts, an appreciation for the ways in which aspects of the region often described as “traditional” or even “medieval” are in fact modern (whatever that means), and a sound basis for comparing Middle Eastern developments in this period with those in other regions of the world.

The second half of the course will focus on the important developments in the region during the 20th century, including but not limited to those conflicts which frequently make the headlines in the American media. Important subthemes include the role of foreign powers in the region’s politics and the continuing transformation of society and culture within the Middle East. In furtherance of Shippensburg’s integrated history curriculum, we will also highlight the ways in which different constructed historical narratives figure into the region’s conflicts, with a special focus on the Arab-Israeli conflict. At the end of this section of the course, students will be conversant with Arab, Iranian and Turkish nationalism, the Arab-Israeli conflict, political Islam, the impact of technology, and, if they get lucky, early takes on the significance of the 2003 Anglo-American invasion of Iraq.

Three formal papers will be due on the deadlines indicated. Exam dates will not change for any reason, and students who have unavoidable conflicts must see me for alternate arrangements as soon as they become known. Late take-home exams are acceptable only with severe late penalties. Occasional quizzes and short informal writing assignments will check student comprehension of readings and other course material. Quizzes and some informal writing assignments cannot be made up. Attendance in class is mandatory, and 5% will be deducted from students’ participation grades for each class missed over three. Missing 12 classes will result in a failure in the course. Participation, however, is more than just attendance, and will reflect your asking and answering of questions and participation in discussions.


Quizzes and Reading Thoughts: 10%
Participation: 10%
First Paper: 10%
Second Paper: 12.5%
Third Paper: 12.5%
Midterm Exam: 20%
Final Exam: 25%

Syllabus Changes:

Occasionally I find I want to make minor changes to the syllabus. These are usually substitutions of different readings or the addition of material that comes to my attention after the course starts, such as scholarly blog posts relevant to course material. These changes will not result in significant additional work or changes in the dates of exams and major assignments. These will be announced in class and, if there are absences at the time, over e-mail as well.


Plagiarism, simply put, is intellectual theft. If you use words or ideas from someone else in an academic or professional setting, and do not give them proper credit, you have stolen from them. This is true even if the work has been posted in a public forum, such as a web site. It includes:

1.) Outright plagiarism – direct copying of a source, passing off the author’s words and ideas as one’s own without crediting the source
2.) Mosaic plagiarism – lifting words or phrases from the original source, again without crediting that source
3.) Echo plagiarism – no words are stolen, but ideas are lifted, again without crediting the source

Because of all this, plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty (cheating) will not be tolerated and handled according to Shippensburg procedures. Specific guidelines for expected citation policies will be announced with each assignment. The easiest way to avoid plagiarizing is always to cite as much as possible. Citing too much is almost impossible to do. Citing too little could lead to failing an assignment, the course as a whole, or even expulsion from the university. In order to prevent plagiarism, I ask that all assignments be submitted via

Frankly, you should want to cite things even if it weren’t for the consequences of plagiarism. The flip side of plagiarism is generosity, acknowledging the debt you have to the work of others. Even when professional historians have an idea of their own, they will often include a footnote mentioning that they got the idea after talking to a colleague, or even from discussion in a class they were teaching. Sometimes when they cite a book or article, they will mention that it was recommended to them by a friend, whom they name. You may not know the people who created the sources you will cite here at Shippensburg, but acknowledging things others have done to help you is a good habit to get into for life, and proper citation is a good start.

(Note: I am indebted to Professor Betty Dessants for her description of the types of plagiarism.)

Disability Accomodation:

If you feel you may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability, you should contact me privately to discuss your specific needs at least 72 hours prior to the activity which requires the accommodation. If you have not already done so, you must contact the Office of Disability Services. This office is responsible for determining reasonable and appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities on a case-by-case basis, and more generally, for ensuring that members of the community with disabilities have access to Shippensburg’s programs and services. They also assist students in identifying and managing the factors that may interfere with learning and in developing strategies to enhance learning. I cannot approve an accommodation without you registering.

Schedule of Readings and Major Assignments

January 19 – Course Intro
January 21 – Ochsenwald and Fisher, 1-8, 75-96 (Geography, Islam)

January 24 – Ochsenwald and Fisher, 190-201; Dina Rizk Khoury, “The Ottoman centre versus provincial power-holders: an analysis of the historiography,” The Cambridge History of Turkey, Vol. III, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp. 135-56. (Ottoman Empire)
January 26 – Ochsenwald and Fisher, 215-31, 265-9 (Safavid Iran and aftermath)
January 28 – Ochsenwald and Fisher, 259-65, 271-7 (Selim III – Auspicious Incident)

January 31 – Ochsenwald and Fisher, 279-86; Tucker, “Decline of the Family Economy in Mid- Nineteenth Century Egypt,” Arab Studies Quarterly 1 (1979): 245-71 (Muhammad Ali)
February 2 – Ochsenwald and Fisher, 294-308, Gelvin, 148-54 (Tanzimat)
February 4 – Rogan, 1-43 (State, society, frontier)

February 7 – Rogan, 44-69; (Administration and infrastructure)
February 9 – Rogan, 70-94 (Land)
February 11 – Ochsenwald and Fisher, 311-20; Albert Hourani, “Jamal al-Din al- Afghani,” Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), pp. 103-29; Gelvin, 161-2 (Islamic Modernism)

February 14 – Rogan, 95-122 (Merchants)
February 16 – Rogan, 122-59 (Missionaries)
February 18 – Rogan, 160-83 (Social Change)

February 21 – Ochsenwald and Fisher, 286-91, 336-46; Juan Cole, “The Long Revolution in Egypt,” Colonialism and Revolution in the Middle East, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), pp. 110-32 (Late 19th-century Egypt)
February 23 – Ochsenwald and Fisher, 349-67; Gelvin, 164-7 (Iran through Constitutional Revolution)
February 25 – Ochsenwald and Fisher, 322-33; Rogan, 184-217 (Other revolts) (First Paper Due)

February 28 – Armenian Genocide
March 2 – Exam ID Section
March 4 – Exam Essay Due


March 14 – Ochsenwald and Fisher, 369-87; Rogan, 218-41; Sykes-Picot Agreement, Balfour Declaration, Husayn-MacMahon Correspondence (World War I)
March 16 – Ochsenwald and Fisher, 393-405, 462-5, 476-500 (modern Turkey)
March 18 – Ochsenwald and Fisher, 407-17 (Reza Khan) (Second Paper Due)

March 21 – Ochsenwald and Fisher, 419-30; Joel Beinin and Zachary Lockman, Workers on the Nile, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), pp. 83-120 (Egyptian nationalism)
March 23 – Ochsenwald and Fisher, 433-59 (Mandates)
March 25 – Caplan, 1-55; Selection of Theodor Herzl’s Altneuland (Arab-Israeli Conflict Intro)

March 28 – Caplan, 56-100 (Mandatory Palestine)
March 30 – Ochsenwald and Fisher, 465-73 (World War II)
April 1 – Ochsenwald and Fisher, 536-49; Caplan, 101-30 (1948)

April 4 – Ochsenwald and Fisher, 549-52, 585-98, 639-642, 650-4; Caplan, 131-43; Gelvin, 307-8 (Rise of Military Regimes)
April 6 – Algerian War documentary, background reading TBA
April 8 – Ochsenwald and Fisher, 552-7; Caplan, 143-77; Gelvin, 311-2 (1967 and After)

April 11 - Ochsenwald and Fisher, 696-709, 620-6, 670-1; Gelvin, 247-56 (Oil States)
April 13 - Ochsenwald and Fisher, 502-12; 514-6 (Iran from Mossadeq to Khomeini)
April 15 – Ochsenwald and Fisher, 516-26; Gelvin, 312-5; Kamran Aghaie, “The Karbala Narrative: Shi’i Political Discourse in Modern Iran in the 1960’s and 70’s,” Journal of Islamic Studies 12 (2001): 151-76 (Islamic Republic)

April 18 – Ochsenwald and Fisher, 604-14; Gelvin, 290-9, 315-7; John Calvert, “The Afterlife of Sayyid Qutb” (Infitah and Islamism)
April 20 – Ochsenwald and Fisher, 628-39; Caplan, 178-94 (Camp David and Lebanon)
April 22 - Caplan, 195-267 (Arab-Israeli Conflict Today)

April 25 – Ochsenwald and Fisher, 642-7, 654-67 (Ba’ath Regimes) (Third Paper Due)
April 27 – Sahar Khamis, “New Media and Social Change in Rural Egypt,” Arab Media & Society, Winter 2010 (Middle East Today)
April 29 – Middle East Today, reading TBA

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