Fall 2022


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.

Prof. Semerdjian, 4 credits, MWF 9:00-9:50am

-Fulfills Cultural Pluralism and/or Social Sciences distribution and Asian & Middle Eastern Studies requirements.

-History major: modern history; Revolution, War, & Politics; Social Justice

Spring 2023

History 214: Sex in the Casbah

How have categories of sexuality and gender been defined, maintained, and/or contested in Muslim societies? This course will highlight debates concerning sexuality and gender as they relate to prescribed gender roles, the role of transgender bodies and same sex intimacy, and the construction of the category of illicit sexuality in classical and modern Islamic thought. This close study of gender and sexuality begins in the early Islamic period with primary texts about the Prophet Muhammad and his female companions. Gender roles and sexuality found in legal, medical, and sexual advice manuals will be studied. Students will learn how modern veiling debates in both the Middle East and France have taken shape in light of the emergence of Arab feminism, Muslim women's responses to Islamic conservatism, and immigration debates. The course will address Orientalist representations of "Oriental sex" in art and literature and how Muslim women have critically responded to that tradition. The format will be a combination of lecture and discussion. Materials for the course are scholarly monographs, articles, primary source documents, films, and art. Students will write a final research paper on a related topic of their choice.

Prof. Semerdjian, 4 credits, TTh 11:30am-12:50pm

-Fulfills Cultural Pluralism and/or Social Sciences distribution and Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, Gender Studies, and Race & Ethnic Studies requirements.

-History major: Cultures & Ideas; Empires & Colonialism; Social Justice; Before Modernity

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 Cultural Pluralism and/or Social Sciences distribution and Asian & Middle Eastern Studies and Race & Ethnic Studies requirements.

-History major: modern history; Empires & Colonialism; Revolution, War, & Politics; Social Justice