History 223: Special Topic: The Arab Spring
The current wave of protests sweeping the Middle East inspires this critical examination of the historic roots of revolt. While mapping the sites of protest-Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, and Syria, and lesser known protests in Turkey and Iraq-students will examine the individual modern histories and politics prompting these revolutions. The course will also compare the economic, political, and social factors that have inspired the so-called Arab Spring. Students will study academic arguments about the origins of authoritarianism in the Middle East, the role social media plays in creating new sites of social protests, and the impact of neoliberal economic policies in creating the conditions for the revolution. Students will also be introduced to the cultural politics of the Arab World, including new forms of religious expression, contemporary hip-hop, and revolutionary art found in both Islamist and post-Islamist cultural spheres. Assignments include critical analysis of media coverage, short papers, and a final paper project. Distribution area: social sciences or cultural pluralism.
Prof. Semerdjian, 4 credits, TuThF 10:00-10:50.
Fulfills the College’s Cultural Pluralism distribution requirement.
Open to first-year students.
History 494: Senior Seminar: The Harem: Myth and Reality
The harem has become a space associated with sexual excess in the writings of European travelers; however, this course will attempt to unravel that image by exploring the realities of harem life as it constituted the center of political power in the Islamic World. The course will begin with the model for the harem based on the household of the Prophet Muhammad. This household model was later incorporated into the Abbasid Empire where the harem became a central part of imperial culture. Most attention will be focused on the Ottoman Empire where the harem was comprised of powerful mothers, concubines, and wives who increasingly influenced the decisions of the Sultan in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. These women were sometimes major players in palace intrigues and, on occasion, political assassinations. The course will include a survey of Orientalist literature (primary and secondary) and new historiography of the Harem. Students are required to write a final research paper using primary sources.
Prof. Semerdjian, 4 credits, M 7:30-10:00pm
Intended for senior majors; others should consult the instructor.