Fall 2018


History 127: Islamic Civilization, I - Early and Medieval

This course will examine the rise of Islam as a religion and as a political and cultural system, from the time of Muhammad (sixth century) to the early Ottomans (15th century). Attention will be given to Islamic dynasties and states from Central Asia to Spain, and to the spread of Islamic religion and culture to South Asia and Africa. Themes will include the interaction of nomad and sedentary societies, dissenting groups and minorities, relations between Muslims and Europeans, slavery and social organization, and developments in science and literature. The format will include lecture and discussion. Readings will include primary and secondary sources. Written work will include several response papers, a final exam, and participation in an e-mail class discussion list.

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

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


History 235: The Arab Spring in Historical Context

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, MWF 10:00-10:50am

-Fulfills the College's Cultural Pluralism requirement.


Spring 2019


History 302: Syrian War - 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.


History 322: History of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

What are the origins of the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis? This course will present several perspectives on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It will examine the origins of the conflict in 19th century Zionism, the conditions of the late Ottoman Palestine, and World War I diplomacy. The creation of the state of Israel in 1948 resulted in the first Arab-Israeli War and several other wars followed such as the Suez War (1956), the Six-Day War (1967), and the Yom Kippur War (1973). In addition to these wars, the course will examine the peace process, rising Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation during the Intifada, and Israeli peace movements. The course will finish with the current status of the conflict. Student assignments will include media analysis of the conflict, document analysis, a final research paper and participation in a peace conference to be held during the final examination period of the course. It is recommended that students take at least one course in Middle Eastern history prior to taking this course.

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

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