Fall 2017


History 128: Islamic Civilization, II - The Modern Islamic World

This course will examine the history of the Islamic World from the 15th century to the present. Attention will be given to the rise and spread of the Ottoman state, the Safavid dynasty and formation of Iran, European interactions with Islamic countries from Southeast Asia to West Africa, 19th century imperialism and reforms, and the emergence of nation states in the 20th century. Themes will include the paradigm of decline, Orientalism, fundamentalism and political Islam, the idea of the caliphate, secularism and nationalism, minorities and women, and developments in art and literature. The format will include lectures and discussions. Primary and secondary sources, film and slides will be used. There will be several response papers, a final exam, and an e-mail class discussion list.

Prof. Semerdjian, 4 credits, TTh 10:00-11:20am

-Fulfills the College's Alternative Voices and Cultural Pluralism requirements.


History 302: The Syrian War - From the Rise of Asad to the Specter of ISIS

This timely course will examine the creation of modern Syria, the rise of the Asad dictatorship through the country's devolution into war after 2011. Beginning with background about the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of French mandate Syria in 1920, the course will complicate the notion of sectarianism and eventual minoritarian rule under the house of Asad through the inclusion of analysis of the urban/rural and class alliances that have sustained the regime for forty years. The current proxy war will be discussed as well as the racialized representations of the refugee crisis as an assault on Europe and the United States during the 2016 US presidential campaign. The rise of ISIS as a player in the Syrian conflict (and its origins in Iraq) will be discussed in the context of "failed state wars" in Iraq and Syria. The course interweaves current political debates about Syria with responses by Syrian activists and artists within the historical and political context of the conflict. Readings consist of secondary historical works, primary sources, online resources, documentaries and memoirs. Students will engage with these materials by writing primary source analyses, critical media analyses, and a final research paper on the subject of the course.

Prof. Semerdjian, 4 credits, TTh 1:00-2:20pm

-Fulfills the College's Cultural Pluralism requirement.


Spring 2018


History 325: Women and Gender in Islamic Societies

What rights do women have in Islam? Is there such a thing as gender equality in Islam? This course will examine women's lives in Islamic societies from the seventh century to the present in the Middle East. Topics will include lives of powerful and notable women; women's position in Islamic law; Western images of Muslim women; Muslim women's movements in relation to radical Islam, secularism, nationalism and socialism; recent controversies over veiling. The course contains overarching discussions of sexuality and gender as they related to prescribed gender roles, the role of transgender and same sex couples, and illicit sexuality. The course also will look at the impact of imperialism and Orientalism on our understanding of gender in the Islamic World. The format will be lecture and discussion. Materials for the course will include novels, primary source documents, articles, and films.

Prof. Semerdjian, 4 credits, MW 1:00-2:20pm

-Fulfills the College's Alternative Voices and Cultural Pluralism requirements.