Elyse Semerdjian

Associate Professor of History (Middle East, Islamic World)


PhD (History) Georgetown University, 2003
MA (Middle Eastern Studies) University of Michigan, 1994
BA (Political Philosophy) Albion College, 1992

Academic Biography

Elyse Semerdjian is Associate Professor of Islamic World/Middle Eastern History. She teaches a broad range of courses on the subject of gender, sexuality, social history, culture, and politics of the Middle East. A specialist in the history of the Ottoman Empire and Syria, she authored "Off the Straight Path": Illicit Sex, Law, and Community in Ottoman Aleppo (Syracuse University Press, 2008) as well as several articles on gender, non-Muslims, and law in the Ottoman Empire. She received her M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and her Ph.D. in History from Georgetown University. Her dissertation earned both distinction from Georgetown University and the Syrian Studies Association Best Dissertation Prize in 2003.

Semerdjian has received two Fulbright scholarships to fund her research in Syria. She continues to research and write the social history of the Armenians of Saliba Judayda, the Christian quarter of Aleppo, focusing on the formative sixteenth through eighteenth centuries. Her article "Naked Anxiety: Bathhouses, Nudity, and Muslim/non-Muslim Relations in Eighteenth-Century Aleppo" was published in the International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies and won the Syrian Studies Association Best Article Prize in 2014. She currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Middle East Women's Studies and as a book review editor for the International Journal of Middle East Studies. In the Spring of 2013, she was the Dumanian Visiting Professor in Armenian Studies in The Department of Near Eastern Cultures and Languages at the University of Chicago. She was awarded a Cornell University Society for the Humanities Fellowship for the 2016-2017 academic year to support the writing of her forthcoming book, Remnants: Gender, Islamized Armenians, and Collective Memory of the Armenian Genocide.

Select publications by Professor Semerdjian can be accessed on academia.edu

History 127: Islamic Civilization I
History 128: Islamic Civilization II
History 235: The Arab Spring in Historical Context
History 220: The Ottoman Empire
History 302: The Syrian War
History 325: Women and Gender in Islamic Societies
History 494: Harem Histories