Tuesday, January 13, 2009

CORE 183A: The Middle East

This is the new, improved version of my interdisciplinary introduction to the Middle East.

CORE 183A: The Middle East
109 Alumni Hall, 2:45 TR
Dr. Brian Ulrich

Office: 309 Alumni Hall, Ex. 7556 (Office Hours: 1-4 p.m. Wednesday or by appointment)

“Before I came here, I was confused about this subject. Now I am still confused, but at a higher level.” – att. Enrico Fermi

“I want to start discussions. Arguments. Preferably a bar fight or two.” – J. Michael Straczinski

Required Texts:
Understanding the Contemporary Middle East, 3rd Edition, ed. Jillian Schwedler and Deborah J. Gerner
A History of the Arab Peoples, 1st Edition, Albert Hourani
Covering Islam, Edward Said
Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, Laila Lalami
On Shifting Ground: Muslim Women in the Global Era, ed. Fereshteh Nouraie-Simone

Reserve Texts with Required Readings:

Islam, Jamal J. Elias
The Cambridge Companion to the Qur’an, ed. Jane Dammen McAuliffe
Pop Culture: Arab World, Andrew Hammond (also electronic resource)
Electronic reserves found on Blackboard

This course will introduce students to important aspects of the Middle East, with particular emphasis on the deep connections between the Middle East and what we think of today as “the West” both throughout history and in the modern world. Whereas most courses are designed to clarify topics, it is hoped that students will emerge from this one confused about many of the complex issues we will address, but that this confusion is grounded in increased knowledge of the region and a textured understanding of life away from the crisis-inspired headlines that draw many to study it.

Exam dates and due dates for major papers will not change for any reason, and students who have unavoidable conflicts must see me for alternate arrangements as soon as they become known. Small assignments will usually be announced one or two class periods in advance, and will receive reduced credit if handed in late. Occasional quizzes may check student comprehension of readings and other course material and cannot be made up. Attendance in class is mandatory, and missing more than two class periods will result in a reduced participation grade. Participation, however, is more than just attendance, and will reflect your asking and answering of questions and participation in discussions. The instructor may change readings during the course of the semester.

Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated and handled according to Colgate procedures. Any text in taken from another source in an assignment must be noted with quotation marks and the original source indicated. On some assignments, all information, regardless of whether exact words are used, must be cited via footnotes. Furthermore, due to the importance of participation and handing in assignments in a timely manner, misrepresentation of the reasons for an absence or late assignment will be considered a case of academic dishonesty.


Major Papers (2): 10% Each
Small Assignments and Quizzes: 15%
Participation: 15%
Overwhelming Midterm Exam: 25%
Final Exam: 25%

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. If you have not already done so, please contact Lynn Waldman at the Office of Academic Support and Disability Services in the Center for Learning, Teaching, and Research. Ms. Waldman 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 Colgate’s programs and services. She also assists students in identifying and managing the factors that may interfere with learning and in developing strategies to enhance learning. Her services are available free of charge to all students.

Schedule of Readings and Major Assignments

January 19 – Intro
January 20 – Gerner and Schwedler, Chapter 2 “A Geographic Preface”; J.M. Wagstaff, “The Measure of the Region,” The Evolution of Middle Eastern Landscapes, (Totowa, NJ: Barnes & Noble, 1985), pp. 9-28.
January 22 – Hourani, pp. 7-54, 181-6

January 27 – Elias, pp. 13-27; Qur’an, Suras 1 and 2; Jane Dammen McAuliffe, “The Tasks and Traditions of Interpretation,” The Cambridge Companion to the Qur’an, ed. Jane Dammen McAuliffe, (CASE hard copy reserves)
January 29 – Elias, pp. 44-81; Brian Ulrich on Ashura 1, 2; On-line intro to Jalal al-Din Rumi

February 3 – Fethullah Gulen on Jihad; “The Veil Debate – Again,” Leila Ahmed (On Shifting Ground); Hammond, “The Growth of TV Evangelists since the 1970’s” and “Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia,” pp. 205-15; Hadith selections
February 5 – Hourani, pp. 189-205; Charles Burnett, “The Translating Activity in Medieval Spain,” The Legacy of Muslim Spain, ed. Salma Khadra al-Jayyusi, (Leiden: Brill, 1992), pp. 1036-58.

February 10 – Hourani, pp. 207-42, 249-53; Michael Axworthy, A History of Iran: Empire of the Mind, (New York: Basic Books, 2008), pp. 130-44.
February 12 – Hourani, pp. 258-85, 302-32

February 17 – Hourani, pp. 340-5, 351-79, 381-84, 389-97
February 19 – Hourani, pp. 397-433; James L. Gelvin, “The Iranian Revolution” The Modern Middle East: A History, 2nd Edition, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp. 282-93.

February 24 – Gerner and Schwedler, Chapter 4, “Middle Eastern Politics”
February 26 – Zachary Lockman, “Said’s Orientalism: A Book and Its Aftermath,” Contending Visions of the Middle East: The History and Politics of Orientalism, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 182-214; Said, pp. 3-35

March 3 – Overwhelming Midterm Exam
March 5 – Said, pp. 36-68

March 10 – Said, pp. 81-133
March 12 – Schwedler and Gerner, Chapter 10, “Kinship, Class and Ethnicity”; Charles Tripp, A History of Iraq, 3rd Ed., (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 259-67.


March 24 – Lalami, entire book – there will be a reading quiz!
March 26 – Gerner and Schwedler, Chapter 11, “The Role of Women”; “The Missionary Position,” Laila Lalami (Blackboard External Links)

March 31 – Elizabeth Warnock Fernea, In Search of Islamic Feminism, (New York: Anchor Books, 1998), pp. 72-124; “On and Off-Camera in Egyptian Soap Operas: Women, Television and the Public Sphere,” Lila Abu-Lughod (OSG)
April 2 – “Globalizing Equality: Muslim Women, Theology, and Feminism,” Asma Barlas; “Between Religion and Secularism: Islamist Women of Hamas,” Islah Jah (Both OSG)

April 7 – “Singing a New Song: Bonding and Breaking with the Past,” Sherifa Zuhur; “The Prospects for Democracy: Women Reformists in the Iranian Parliament,” Elaheh Koolaee; “Women and Civil Society in Iran,” Mehrangiz Kar; “Shirin Ebadi: A Perspective on Women’s Rights in the Context of Human Rights,” Fereshteh Nouraie-Simone (all OSG)
April 9 – Hugh Miles, “Making a Splash in the Arab World,” Al-Jazeera: The Inside Story of the Arab News Channel that is Challenging the West, (New York: Grove Press, 2005), pp. 37-67.

April 14 – “The Satellite, the Pirnce, and Sheherazade: Women as Communicators in Digital Islam,” Fatema Mernissi; “Wings of Freedom: Iranian Women, Identity, and Cyberspace,” Fereshteh Nouraie-Simone (Both OSG); “Love on Girls’ Side of the Saudi Divide,” Katherine Zoepf (Blackboard Electronic Links); “Marriage in Egypt” (New York Times slide show, Blackboard External Links); Hammond, “Consumerism,” pp. 255-85.
April 16 – Schwedler and Gerner, “The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” pp. 185-214

April 21 – Palestine Monitor, all issue sections on left sidebar; “Palestinian Terrorism,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Hamas Charter (All Blackboard External Links); Idith Zertal and Akiva Eldar, “A Movable Death,” Lords of the Land, tr. Vivian Eden, (New York: Nation Books, 2007), pp. 245-75.
April 23 – “Haniyeh and His Israeli Sisters,” Lisa Goldman; “The Choice of Israel,” Liza Rosenberg; “Palestine’s Guernica and the Myths of Israeli Victimhood,” Mustafa Barghouti (All Blackboard External Links)

April 28 - Gerner and Schwedler, Chapter 7, “The Economies of the Middle East,” and Chapter 9, “Population Growth, Urbanization, and the Challenges of Unemployment,”
April 30 – Gerner and Schwedler, Chapter 8, “The Political Economy of Middle Eastern Oil”

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