Middle East Studies

Welcome to Middle East Studies at the University of Maryland. The Middle East Studies Faculty offers a variety of courses and programs to increase the awareness of the Middle East and North Africa, to enhance understanding of the region's diverse peoples, lands, and cultures and to broaden historical and contemporary perspectives.Majors in the Department of History have an opportunity to obtain a minor in Middle East Studies. It is an interdepartmental program that offers a variety of courses to increase awareness of the Middle East and Africa. 

Director:         Professor Antoine Borrut; aborrut@umd.edu; 301-405-7448

Advisor:         Christiane-Marie Abu Sarah; mideaststudies@umd.edu; 301-405-4306

3107 Taliaferro Hall

Advising Hours:

  • Mondays or Thursdays by appointment

The Middle East Studies Minor (MESM) introduces students to the history, culture, and politics of the Middle East since the emergence of Islam. MESM balances coursework in the contemporary period with exposure to the pre-twentieth-century political, intellectual, and religious experience of the region, its ethnic and religious make-up, and the rich culture that these together engendered.

Requirements: 15-18 credits (5 courses; some language courses carry more than 3 credit hours per course) towards the Minor in Middle East Studies. Coursework must be distributed to meet the overlapping requirements below. (For example, HIST120: Islamic Civilization can be used to meet both the pre-modern requirement and the Arab world requirement, but does not count doubly in terms of credit.)

  • 6 credits (2 courses) in Area distribution:  At least one course in each of two of the following Area categories: (a) the Arab world; (b) Iran and the Persian/Iranian world; (c) (Middle Eastern) Jewish and Israel; (d) Turkish and Ottoman; and (e) Middle Eastern Diasporas and All Middle East.  Other areas of concentration may be considered and require the director’s approval.

  • 6 credits (2 courses) in Pre-Modern:  At least two courses (6 credits) must focus on the pre-modern period (the 7th century through the 19th century).  Students may fulfill this requirement through their area distribution or elective courses.

  • 3 credits (1 course) in Electives: The fifth course may be chosen from the list of approved Middle East Studies courses. A language course of 3 or more credits may be used to satisfy this requirement. Advanced Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, or Turkish language courses that are content courses rather than grammar-based can be used for the Elective category or count toward Area Distribution and/or Pre-Modern, depending on subject matter

Additional requirements:

  • A minimum of 3 courses (9 credits) must be at the upper level (300- or 400-level).

  • All credits must be earned with a grade of 'C-' or above (no Pass/Fail option). An overall GPA of 2.0 in the minor is required for graduation.

  • A list of qualifying courses in each category is available from the academic advisor of the minor and on MESM’s webpage.

  • Only one lower-level or grammar based course in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, or Turkish may be credited toward the Minor.

  • A maximum of two courses can count towards both the major and the minor.

  • Courses cannot count towards multiple minors.

  • No more than 6 credits toward the minor taken outside the University of Maryland, College Park.

 

Winter 2017 Middle East Minor Courses

 

ARAB341  Filming War Zones: Representations of Wars in Iraq and Chechnya

Credits: 3, Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud

Also offered as: FILM341. Credit only granted for: ARAB341 or FILM341.

Comparative study of ideological and cultural discourses in war films covering military conflicts in Iraq and Chechnya in late 20th-early 21st centuries. Materials include American, Middle Eastern, and Russian feature films and documentaries; theories of propaganda, ideology and popular culture. Taught in English.

Instructor: Valerie Anishchenkova

 

Spring 2017 Middle East Minor Courses

 

ARAB100 – ARAB400  (All Arabic language courses; see Testudo for Details)

 

ARAB401  Readings in Arabic Literature

Credits: 3, Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud

Prerequisite: ARAB305; or permission of ARHU-School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures department. Restriction: Must not be a fluent/native speaker of Arabic.

A survey of Modern Arabic literature is given through a range of selected texts. Texts are studied as literature with constant reference to the social, cultural and political contexts in which they were written. Taught in Arabic.

Instructor: TBA

Class time: TuTh 11:00am - 12:15pm

 

ARAB499M (Perm Req) Special Topics in Arabic Studies; Egyptian Cinema and the Making of Modern Egypt

Credits: 3, Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud

Prerequisite: ARAB305 or permission by department. Taught in Arabic.

Instructor: TBA

Class time: MW 3:30pm - 4:45pm

 

ARAB499P  Special Topics in Arabic Studies; Facing West: Al-Jabarti to Bin Laden

Credits: 3, Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud

Pre-requisite: ARAB 305 or permission. Taught in Arabic.

Instructor: Peter Glanville

Class time: TuTh 9:30am - 10:45am

 

COMM468A  Seminar in Mediated Communication; Arab Media

Credits: 3, Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud

Instructor: Sahar Khamis

Class time: TuTh 12:30pm - 1:45pm

 

GVPT409H  Seminar in International Relations and World Politics; International Relations of the Middle East

Credits: 3,  Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud (Perm Req)

Restriction: Must be in the Government & Politics Honors program.

This seminar will evaluate major issues of the international relations of the Middle East and the American role and responses to these issues. The seminar will focus on several post-Cold-War cases in American foreign policy, including the 1991 and 2003 Gulf wars, policy toward Iran, American mediation in the Arab-Israeli conflict, responses to the Arab Uprisings, Re-emerging competition with Russia, and broader issues such as regional reform and nuclear non-proliferation.

Instructor: Shibley Telhami

Class time: M 2:00pm - 4:45pm

 

HEB100 – HEB400  (All Hebrew Language Courses; see Testudo for Details)

 

HEBR249M  Special Topics in Hebrew Studies; Israeli Music

Credits: 3, Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud

Prerequisite: HEBR207 or equivalent background knowledge. Contact afeuer@umd.edu for more information.

Instructor: Aharona Gazit-Rosenthal

Class time: MWF 11:00am - 11:50am

 

HIST219B  Special Topics in History; Conquest, Conversion, or Convivencia? Conflict and Tolerance Among Jews, Christians, and Muslims in the Medieval Spains

Credits: 3, Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud

The history and interactions of Jews, Christians, and Muslims in medieval Spain and Portugal.

Instructor: Janna Bianchini

Class time: MW 11:00am - 11:50am, plus Discussion (F 10:00am - 10:50am, F 11:00am - 11:50am, or F 1:00pm - 1:50pm)

 

HIST219C  Special Topics in History; The Million that's Gone: The Jews of Muslim Lands in Modern Time

Credits: 3 , Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud,  GenEd: DSHSDVUP

Also offered as HIST219C. Credit granted for JWST289A or HIST219C.

Examines the complex and fraught history of the Jews of Muslim lands in modern times, a population reduced from about one million a century ago to several tens of thousands today.

Instructor: Shay Hazkani

Class time: TuTh 2:00pm - 3:15pm

 

HIST245  Reformers, Radicals, and Revolutionaries: The Middle East in the Twentieth Century

Credits: 3, Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud, GenEd: DSHS

Credit only granted for: HIST219W or HIST245. Formerly: HIST219W.

The 20th century was a period of dramatic changes in the Middle East. Within the global context of the two World Wars and the Cold War, countries in the region struggled with the effects of colonialism and painful processes of decolonization. The course offers a thematic-comparative approach to issues such as social and political reform, nationalism, the colonial experience, independence struggles, models of governance, political violence, and Islamism. Course lectures and the analysis and discussion of primary sources will lead students to understand that the peoples of the Middle East found answers to the challenges posed by Western dominance based on their specific historical, cultural and socio-economic circumstances.

Instructor: Peter Wien

Class time: TuTh 9:30am - 10:45am

 

HIST319R   Special Topics in History; Genghis Khan and the Mongols: Destroyers of Worlds and Patrons of Culture

Credits: 3, Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud

Instructor: Colleen Ho

Class time: TuTh 11:00am-12:15pm

 

HIST319T  Special Topics in History; Muslims on the Silk Road: Medieval and Early Modern Culture between China and the Caspian Sea

Credits: 3, Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud

A history of Islamic Central Asia in the medieval and early modern period. Major topics include the Mongols, Tamerlane, and Sufism.

Instructor: TBA

Class time: TuTh 12:30pm - 1:45pm

 

HIST376  History of Modern Israel

Credits: 3, Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud, GenEd: DSHS

Also offered as: ISRL342. Credit only granted for: HIST376, ISRL342, or JWST342.

History of modern Israel since the beginning of the Zionist settlement in 1882. Attention to different interpretations and narratives of Israel's history, including the historical and ideological roots of Zionism, the establishment of the State of Israel, ideological forces, wars, and the triumphs and crises of democracy.

Instructor: Yoram Peri

Class time: MW 3:30pm - 4:45pm

 

HIST419D  Special Topics in History; Islam in Europe

Credits: 3, Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud

Also offered as RELS419W. Credit granted for HIST419D or RELS419W.

Instructor: Madeline Zilfi

Class time: TuTh 11:00am - 12:15pm

 

HIST419Z  Special Topics in History; Law and Society in the Middle East Past and Present

Credits: 3,  Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud

Also offered as HIST619E. Credit granted for HIST419Z or HIST619E.

Instructor: Madeline Zilfi

Class time: Th 3:00pm - 5:30pm

 

HIST429G  Special Topics in History; The Israeli Settler Movement

Credits: 3, Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud

Also offered as ISRL449B. Credit granted for ISRL449B.

This class will explore the Israeli settler movement over the last four decades, from its position on the fringes of Israeli society in the 1970s and 1980s to its rise to prominence in Israeli politics today.

Instructor: Shay Hazkani

Class time: W 2:00pm - 4:30pm

 

HIST499Y  Independent Study; Middle Eastern History and TV Production

Credits: 1 – 3, Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud, (Perm Req)

Instructor: Madeline Zilfi

Class time: Contact department or instructor for details.

 

ISRL329A  Special Topics in Israel Studies; Israel's Arab Minority: Past, Present, Future

Credits: 3, Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud

An overview of the Arab minority in Israel, beginning with its roots before 1948 and the events that separated it from Palestinians elsewhere. We will examine Israeli Arabs' clashing identities and their political, social, cultural, and economic circumstances, including their legal status under Israeli law and the tension between them and Israel's self-definition as a "Jewish State." It will also cover recent events and attitudinal changes, as well as their connection with Palestinians in the West Bank & Gaza, and with the wider Arab world. Sources representing various different points of view will be used.

Instructor: Morad Elsana

Class time: Tu 7:00pm - 9:30pm

 

ISRL329D  Special Topics in Israel Studies; Understanding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict through Opposing Histories

Credits: 3, Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud, GenEd: DSHU

Not open to students who have taken ISRL289I. Credit will be granted for HONR338A or ISRL329D.

Israelis and Palestinians have been fighting over the Land of Palestine/Israel for over a century, but both sides date their relationship to the Land back many centuries, even millenia. We will look at the history but especially the "narratives" that the two sides employ to explain and justify, both to themselves and others, their claims to the land, and how these narratives have both molded the shape of the conflict and been molded by it, and changed over time. This is not solely a history course, though it will cover the relevant history. It will focus on the importance of narratives to the continuation of the conflict, as well as elements relating to identity, religion, archaeology, morality, and human rights. No previous knowledge is expected, but those with such knowledge will find it useful.

Instructor: Paul Scham

Course time: TuTh 11:00am - 12:15pm

 

ISRL329K  Special Topics in Israel Studies; Jewry of Muscle: Zionism and Jewish Masculinity

Credits: 3, Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud

Also offered as JWST319K. Credit granted for JWST319K or ISRL329K.

Part of the Zionist cultural project involved creating a new Jewish masculinity that would replace the diasporic sissy Jew with a strong, healthy new Jewry of Muscle. Using literary and filmic sources, we will analyze how these Zionist and Israeli cultural productions served to build (and sometimes undermine) this new model of Jewish masculinity.

Instructor: Shirelle Doughty

Class time: Details on ELMS

 

ISRL329L  Special Topics in Israel Studies; Ethnicity in Israel

Credits: 3, Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud, GenEd: DVUP

Israeli society is a mosaic of ethnic groups and religions. This mosaic had originally been conceived of as a temporary stage on the road toward a 'functioning society', with common interests and vision. Yet, seven decades after the establishment of the State of Israel, the ethnic rifts remain evident in innumerable contexts. This course will examine the different groups as well as looking at policy approaches to the issue and how they have changed over time.

Instructor: TBA

Class time: Details on ELMS

 

ISRL342  History of Modern Israel

Credits: 3, Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud, GenEd: DSHS

Also offered as: HIST376. Credit only granted for: HIST376, ISRL342, or JWST342. Formerly: JWST342.

History of modern Israel since the beginning of the Zionist settlement in 1882. Attention to different interpretations and narratives of Israel's history, including the historical and ideological roots of Zionism, the establishment of the State of Israel, ideological forces, wars, and the triumphs and crises of democracy.

Instructor: Yoram Peri

Class time: MW 3:30pm - 4:45pm

 

ISRL349M Investigating Topics in Israel Studies; Israeli Society through History, Sociology and Art

Credits: 3, Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud

Also offered as SOCY398I. Credit granted for ISRL349M or SOCY398I.

The prolonged conflict with the Palestinians and Araband states and Israeli occupation of the west bank for almost 50 years, had an impact on militarism, political life, centrality oft religious-secular relations, gender relations and the Israeli culture as a whole. We will examine the way art and cinema has dealt, with certain cultural issues and what sociology can contribute to our knowledge.

Instructor: Pnina Peri

Class time: MW 2:00pm - 3:15pm

 

ISRL448R  Seminar in Israel Studies; Introduction to Human Rights in Israel

Credits: 3, Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud

This course is designed to provide an overview of the ways the State of Israel deals with human rights of its citizens, and also non-citizens over which it has control, and to present it from different perspectives The course will introduce Israel’s legal system, human rights record, and its methods of dealing with human rights violations. It will go on to deal with specific human rights issues, including those impacting the Arab minority in Israel (including the Bedouin), women’s rights, and those of the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. We will also discuss the challenges that face human rights NGOs in dealing with this subject.

Instructor: Morad Elsana

Class time: Tu 7:00pm - 9:30pm

 

PERS100 – PERS400  (All Persian language courses; see Testudo for Details)

 

PERS312  Contemporary Iranian Culture

Credits: 3, Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud

Prerequisite: PERS301; or students who have taken courses with comparable content may contact the department. Restriction: Must not be native/fluent speaker of Persian.

Study of the culture of contemporary Iran (post-evolution) with focus o the contemporary social, political, literary and artistic life in Iran. Taught in Persian.

Instructor: TBA

Class time: MWF 12:00pm - 12:50pm

 

PERS398B Special Topics in Persian Studies; Arts, Leisure, and Entertainment: Urban Life in Modern Iran

Credits: 3, Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud

Taught in English. Also offered as HIST328C. Credit granted for PERS398B or HIST328C.

Interdisciplinary historical exploration of the formation and transformations of urban public culture in modern Iran.

Instructor: TBA

Class time: TuTh 3:30pm - 4:45pm

 

PERS498D Special Topics in Persian Studies; Political. Economic, and Social Thought in Today's Iran

Credits: 3, Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud, (Perm Req)

Taught in Persian.

Instructor: TBA

Class time: Th 9:00am - 11:45am

 

PERS498G  Special Topics in Persian Studies; Masterpieces of Persian Literature

Credits: 3, Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud

Taught in Persian.

Instructor: TBA 

Class time: Tu 6:00pm - 8:30pm

 

SLLC109T  Beg Less Commonly Taught Language II; Turkish

Credits: 4, Grading Method: Regular

Instructor: TBA

Class time: Contact department for details

 

SOCY498E  Selected Topics in Sociology; Researching in the Middle East

Credits: 3, Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud

Instructor: Mansoor Moaddel

Class time: TuTh 12:30pm - 1:45pm