Monday, January 14, 2013

Syllabus: The Modern Middle East

Below is my syllabus for the upcoming version of HIS 344: The Modern Middle East. Shippensburg's investment in on-line resources has really enhanced by ability to assemble lots of different readings without violating standards of fair use for copyrighted works. I'm also editing out the bureaucratic sections, such as that on plagiarism.

HIS 344: The Modern Middle East
102 Dauphin Humanities Center, MWF Noon
Dr. Brian J. Ulrich

Required Texts:

The Modern Middle East, 3rd Edition, James Gelvin
The Israel-Palestine Conflict: Contested Histories, Neil Caplan
For Better, For Worse: The Marriage Crisis that Made Modern Egypt, Hanan Kholoussy
The Arab Uprising: Unfinished Revolutions of the New Middle East, Marc Lynch

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 part of the modern world, and a sound basis for comparing Middle Eastern developments in this period with those in other regions.

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 leading up to the rapid political transformations of the past couple of years. 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 political economy of the region, and the impact of new technologies, especially communications media.


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 most informal writing assignments cannot be made up, but the lowest grade from that section will be dropped from the final average. If a student is unable to bring a hard copy to class, they may submit an e-mailed or other on-line copy as an interim arrangement to avoid penalties before handing in the required hard copy. Attendance in class is mandatory, and 5% will be deducted from students’ participation grades for each class missed over three. 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%
Photo Primary Source Paper: 10%
Book Review: 12.5%
Research Paper: 12.5%
Midterm Exam: 20%
Final Exam: 25%

Schedule of Readings and Major Assignments

January 23 – Course Intro
January 25 – Gelvin, pp. 1-32 (Islam and Middle Eastern history)

January 28 – Gelvin, pp. 33-57 (Balances of power)
January 30 – Dina Rizk Khoury, “The Ottoman centre versus provincial power-holders: an analysis of the historiography,” The Cambridge History of Turkey, Vol. III, ed. Suriya N. Faroqhi (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp. 135-56. (Ottoman Empire)
February 1 – Gelvin, pp. 69-86 (Selim III – Auspicious Incident)

February 4 – Judith Tucker, “Decline of the Family Economy in Mid-Nineteenth Century Egypt,” Arab Studies Quarterly 1 (1979): 245-71 (Muhammad Ali)
February 6 – Gelvin, pp. 159-64; Carter Vaughn Findley, “The Tanzimat,” The Cambridge History of Turkey, Vol. IV, ed. Resat Kesaba (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), pp. 11-37 (Tanzimat)
February 8 – Haim Gerber, “The Ottoman Land Law of 1858 and Its Consequences,” The Social Origins of the Modern Middle East (Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner: 1987), pp. 67-90. (1858 Land Code)

February 11 – Gelvin, pp. 133-42, 171-4; Kemal Karpat, “The New Middle Classes and the Naksbandia,” The Politicization of Islam: Reconstructing Identity, State, Faith, and Community in the Late Ottoman State (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 89-116 (Islamic reformism)
February 13 –Laurence Louer, “The Formation of a Central Religious Authority," Transnational Shia Politics: Religious and Political Networks in the Gulf (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008), pp. 69-82. (Shi’ism)
February 15 - Gelvin, pp. 87-109 (colonialism)

February 18 – Ehud Toledano, “Social and economic change in the ‘long nineteenth century,’” Cambridge History of Egypt, Vol. II, ed. M.W. Daly (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 252-84. (Late 19th century Egypt)
February 20 – Gelvin, pp. 143-57 (Abdul Hamid II)
February 22 – Ali M. Ansari, “Iran to 1919,” The New Cambridge History of Islam, Vol. V (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), pp. 154-79. (Iran through Constitutional Revolution)

February 25 – Gelvin, pp. 100-9 (social changes) (Photo Essay Due)
February 27 – 60 Minutes segment (Armenian Genocide)
March 1 – Exam ID Section

March 4 – Exam Essay Section
March 6 – Gelvin, pp. 180-95, 227-8, 230; Sykes-Picot Agreement, Husayn-MacMahon Correspondence (World War I)
March 8 – Caplan, pp. 1-55 (Arab-Israeli Conflict intro)

March 11 – Gelvin, pp. 196-216 (Ataturk)
March 13 – Ervand Abrahamian, “The Iron First of Reza Shah,” A History of Modern Iran(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), pp. 63-96. (Reza Shah)
March 15 – Kholoussy, pp. 1-22 (Arab world interwar period)


March 25 – Kholoussy, pp. 23-75 (Arab world Interwar period)
March 27 – Kholoussy, pp. 77-127 (Second Paper Due)
March 29 – Caplan, 56-100 (Mandatory Palestine)

April 1 – William Ochsenwald and Sydney Nettleton Fisher, “World War II and the Middle East,” The Middle East: A History, 7th edition (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011), pp. 462-75.
April 3 – Caplan, 101-30 (1948)
April 5 – Gelvin, pp. 240-55, 327-8; Caplan, 131-43 (Rise of military regimes)

April 8 – Albert Hourani, “The Algerian War,” A History of the Arab Peoples, (Cambridge: Belknap, 1991), pp. 369-72; Peter Rainer, “Prescient Tense,” New York, January 12, 2004.
April 10 – Caplan, 143-77; Gelvin, pp. 330-1 (1967 and after)
April 12 – Gelvin, pp. 256-82 (oil)

April 15 – Gelvin, pp. 294-306, pp. 331-4 (Iran from Mossadeq to Khomeini)
April 17 – Michael Axworthy, “Iran Since the Revolution: Islamic Revival, War and Confrontation,” A History of Iran: Empire of the Mind (New York: Basic Books, 2008), pp. 259-81.
April 19 – Gelvin, pp. 307-318, pp. 334-6 (Infitah and Islamism)

April 22 – Caplan, 178-94 (Camp David and Lebanon)
April 24 – Caplan, 195-267 (Arab-Israeli Conflict today)
April 26 – Lynch, pp. 1-42 (Arab Dictatorships in Late 1900’s)

April 29 – Lynch, pp. 43-65 (Arab world social changes) (Third Paper Due)
May 1 – Lynch, pp. 67-130 (Arab Spring I)
May 3 – Lynch, pp. 131-92 (Arab Spring II)

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