Elyse Semerdjian

Professor of History (Middle East, Islamic World), Chair

Maxey Hall 237


Ph.D. History
Georgetown University

M.A. Middle Eastern Studies
University of Michigan

B.A. Political Philosophy
Albion College

Elyse Semerdjian is Professor of Islamic World/Middle Eastern History and President of the Syrian Studies Association. 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, law, violence, and Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.

Semerdjian has received two Fulbright scholarships to fund her research in Syria. She has written the social history of the Armenians of Aleppo, focusing on the formative sixteenth through eighteenth centuries. She currently serves on the editorial board of the  Journal of Middle East Women's Studies and the Journal for the Society of Armenian Studies and recently finished her term as 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. 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 was awarded a  Cornell University Society for the Humanities Fellowship on the subject of "Skin" in 2016-2017. Her recent article, “Bone Memory: The Necrogeography of the Armenian Genocide in Dayr al-Zur, Syria,” Human Remains and Violence (2018) offers a preview of her forthcoming book,  Remnants: Encrypted Bodies, Gender, and the Memory of the Armenian Genocide, under contract with Stanford University Press.

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

Middle East History Courses
History 127: Islamic Civilization I: The Early and Medieval Islamic World
History 128: Islamic Civilization II: The Modern Islamic World

History 2XX: Sex in the Casbah: Sex, Gender & Islam
History 220: Ottomania! History, Politics, and Memory of the Ottoman Empire

History 235: The Arab Spring in Historical Context
History 204: Syria: From Ruin(ation) to Restoration

History 322: History of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict
History 397: Harem Histories 

First Year Seminars
GENS 176: “Epic History” 
GENS 175: “The End(s) of the Body”