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.

 

Summer 2017 Classes

 

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

 

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

 

ARAB398E  Special Topics in Arabic Studies; Egyptian Pop Culture

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

Taught in English. Online course. A study of the relationship between culture and ideology in Egypt, with particular focus on popular cultural discourses before and after the 2011 Revolution. A variety of genres are examined, including television, film, social media and cyber culture, music, popular literature, and consumer culture. Please note that this course is not affiliated with the Arabic Summer Institute.

Instructor: Valerie Anishchenkova

Class time: Meets May 30, 2017 - July 9, 2017 / Class on ELMS

 

GVPT309E  Topics in International Relations; Arab Political Thought

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

While focusing on the entire contemporary period, the course provides an in-depth analysis of the recent Arab Spring and the rise of Islamic extreme groups such as ISIS which dramatically changed the political spectrum in the Middle East.

Instructor: M. Hassassian

Class time: Meets June 19, 2017 - July 7, 2017 / MTuWTh 2:00pm - 5:25pm

 

GVPT309X  Topics in International Relations; Conflict Resolution - The Israeli Palestinian Experiment

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

Also offered as ISRL349X. Credit offered for GVPT309X or ISRL349X

This interactive course provides contending and shared perspectives of the cycles of war and peacebuilding with simulations. Topics include common ground on Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, Jewish settlements, water, borders and security. Professor Kaufman has been Director of both the Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) and the Center for International Development and Conflict Management (UMD). He is concurrently teaching in Israel. Professor Hassassian has been Dean and Vice-President of Bethlehem University and is currently Palestinian Ambassador to the United Kingdom. For more information, contact kaufmane@umd.edu. Course preview is available on YouTube and internet: search for 'Israeli Palestinian Team Teaching.'

Instructor: M. Hassassian, Edward Kaufman

Class time: Meets June 19, 2017 - July 7, 2017 / MTuWTh 6:00pm - 9:25pm

                        Meets June 19, 2017 - July 7, 2017 / Class on ELMS

 

PERS405  Media and the Current Issues in Iranian Society

Credits: 6            Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud

Prerequisite: PERS306; or equivalent as determined by FLPT (Foreign Language Placement Test).

Develops Persian language proficiency and domain-specific knowledge at advanced-mid to advanced-high level on ACTFL scale. Enhances linguistic and cultural competence. Provides a broad understanding of some of the current social, political and economic issues in modern Iran. Taught in Persian.

Registration is limited to students accepted into the Summer Language Institute.

Instructor: Ali Abasi

Class time: Meets May 31, 2017 - June 30, 2017 / MTuWThF 9:00am - 5:00pm

 

Fall 2017 Classes

 

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

 

HEBR100 – HEBR400  (All Hebrew language courses; see Testudo for Details)

 

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

 

* ARAB253 (Premodern) The Arabian Nights and the Art of Storytelling

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

Credit only granted for: ARAB 298B or ARAB253. Formerly: ARAB298B.

One Thousand and One Nights (Arabic Kitab alf laylah wa laylah; English The Arabian Nights) is a collection of stories and folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age, and explores how this text has shaped Western perceptions of the Arabic-Islamic world as well as its impact on the literary production of similar works in Europe and the Middle East. Taught in English.

Instructor: Sayed Elsisi

Class time: TuTh 3:30pm - 4:45pm

 

ARAB499E  Special Topics in Arabic Studies; New Arab Media

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

Prerequisite: ARAB 305. Taught in Arabic. This course introduces the students to the language of the Arabic news. This is done by using the text book by Elgibali and Korica, Media Arabic to be the guide for the themes in Media and a guide for the vocabulary. Students are reading and listening to fresh news from different Arabic media. In addition to that, they will also be reading and listening to analytical articles, editorials and excerpts from talk shows. Students have both reading and listening assignments that they will working on and responsible for at home. The course further develops the students' ability for both reading and listening comprehension that will be demonstrated through writing and speaking. It also enhances and widens the students range of vocabulary. Students are asked to write news based on the themes they are covering in the book and based on the fresh news they are reading and listening to. This is a content course that works on receptive and productive skills of the students. Taught in Arabic.

Instructor: TBA

Class time: TuTh 12:30pm - 1:45pm

 

ARAB499O  Special Topics in Arabic Studies; The Syrian Conflict

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

Prerequisite: ARAB 305. Taught in Arabic. By Permission Only. Background and coverage of the Syrian conflict from 2011 to present day. Weekly readings in English and Arabic. Weekly writing in Arabic.

Instructor: Zein El-Amine

Class time: TuTh 9:30am - 10:45am

 

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

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

Prerequisite: ARAB 305. Taught in Arabic. By Permission Only. Background and coverage of the Syrian conflict from 2011 to present day. Weekly readings in English and Arabic. Weekly writing in Arabic.

Instructor: Peter Glanville

Class time: MW 3:00pm - 4:15pm

 

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

 

COMM498W  Seminar; Islamic Discourses in the Digital Age

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

The introduction of new media, such as the Internet, satellite television and cell phones, in the Arab/Muslim world imposed new realities and invited new dynamics, whether in the political, social, cultural or communication landscapes. This course tackles the complexities and implications of this new digital age, with all its multi-faceted dimensions. It pays special attention to the discourses and deliberations exchanged in cyberspace between Muslims and non-Muslims, on one hand, as well as between Muslims belonging to different sects, on the other hand. In doing so, it unpacks the myriad of complex factors which could be conducive, or constraining, to digital dialogue and their multiple religious, political, social and cultural implications.

Instructor: Sahar Khamis

Class time: TuTh 3:30pm - 4:45pm

 

FILM298B   Special Topics in International Film Studies; Iranian Cinema I

Credits: 3            Grad Meth: Reg

Also offered as PERS283. Credit granted for PERS283 or FILM283.

Instructor: Ida Meftahi

Class time: MW 3:30pm - 4:45pm

 

* HIST120 (Premodern) Islamic Civilization

Credits: 3            Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud             Core: SH, D         Gen Ed: DSHU

Also offered as: RELS120.

Introduction to society and culture in the Middle East since the advent of Islam: as a personal and communal faith; as artistic and literary highlights of intellectual and cultural life; and as the interplay between politics and religion under the major Islamic regimes.

Instructor: Ahmet Karamustafa

Class time: MW 12:00pm - 12:50pm, plus Discussion (W 10:00am - 10:50am, W 11:00am - 11:50am, F 2:00pm - 2:50pm, or F 12:00pm - 12:50pm)

 

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 JWST289A. Credit granted for JWST289A or HIST289C.

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 11:00am - 12:15pm

 

HIST219X  Special Topics in History; Modern Iran

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

Also offered as HIST219X. Credit granted for PERS251 or HIST219X.

General sociopolitical introduction to modern Iran from establishment of the Qajar dynasty in the late 18th century to the present day. Taught in English.

Instructor: Ida Meftahi

Class time: TuTh 3:30pm - 4:45pm

 

* HIST428R (Premodern)  Selected Topics in History; Transition to Islam: From the Ancient to the Medieval Muslim World

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

This course questions the rise of Islam in Late Antiquity, the development of the Caliphate, and the making of a discrete Muslim identity, up to the classical Abbasid period (9-10th centuries).

Instructor: Antoine Borrut

Class time: MW 2:00pm - 3:15pm

 

HIST428X  Selected Topics in History; Israel's Occupation at 50

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

Also offered as JWST319J and HIST428X. Credit granted for ISRL448T, JWST319J, or HIST428X.



Now in its fiftieth year, Israel's occupation of the West Bank is the longest continuous military occupation in the world. This seminar will examine its history, the radical transformation of Israeli policy towards Palestinians over five decades, and its impact on the daily lives of Palestinians struggling with the ongoing military and settler presence in their land. The seminar will conclude with a discussion of continued Palestinian resistance to military occupation, including the use of terror against civilians.

Instructor: Shay Hazkani

Class time: MW 2:00pm - 3:15pm

 

HIST429K  Special Topics in History; From Colonization to Decolonization in North Africa, 1830-1962

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

Instructor: Peter Wien

Class time: Tu 9:30am - 12:00pm

 

* HIST491 (Premodern) History of the Ottoman Empire

Credits: 3            Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud             Core: D

Survey of the Ottoman Turkish Empire from 1300 A.D. to its collapse during World War I. Emphasis on the empire's social and political institutions and its expansion into Europe, the Arab East and North Africa.

Instructor: Madeline Zilfi

Class time: TuTh 9:30am - 10:45am

 

* HIST492 (Premodern) Women and Society in the Middle East

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

Also offered as: WMST456.

Examines the customs, values, and institutions that have shaped women's experience in the Middle East in the past and in the contemporary Middle East. Recommended: Must have completed prior coursework in Middle East studies or gender studies.

Instructor: Madeline Zilfi

Class time: Th 3:30pm - 6:00pm

 

ISRL289I  The Israeli/Palestinian Conflict: Fundamental Questions

Credits: 3            Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud             Core: SH              Gen Ed: DSHS, SCIS

Why are Palestinians and Israelis unable to resolve their conflict? Will they ever? Using insights and methodologies from a variety of disciplines and contrasting interpretations of history, this course will examine why the Palestinian-Israeli conflict continues, why it has become so central in world politics and how it connects with other global issues.

Instructor: Paul Scham

Class time: TuTh 3:30pm - 4:45pm

 

ISRL329E   Special Topics in Israel Studies; Israel and the Arab Spring

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

This course will explore and analyze the political, diplomatic, and strategic effects of the Arab Spring and its continuing after effects on the State of Isreal, using that as a lens to study the contemporary Middle East. It starts with a preliminary study of Isreal's foreign policy and then exmines the effects of the Arab Spring on its domestic politics: relations with other regional actors, the Palestinians, and the United States; and Isreal's strategy towards non-state actors such as Hamsa, Hezbollah and ISIS.

Instructor: Moran Stern

Class time: W 4:00pm - 6:30pm

 

ISRL329F  Special Topics in Israel Studies; The History of Economic Policy in Palestine/Israel

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

Prerequisite: ECON201. Also offered as ECON398J. Credit granted for ECON398J or ISRL329F.

This course examines economic policy in Palestine/Israel from 1999 (under Ottoman rule) through the British Mandate (1922-48) until 1988, when the current neo-liberal economic policy began. It will examine how the governments and society dealt with issues such as growth versus equality (distributive justice); ideology versus praxis; local original policy versus imported policy; and politics versus academic economics - who decides and under what circumstances?

Instructor: TBA

Course time: TuTh 9:30am - 10:45am

 

ISRL349Q  Investigating Topics in Israel Studies; The Self and the "Other" in Israeli Culture: Literature, Film, and Television

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

Also offered as CMLT398B, HEBR498Q, and JWST319Q. Credit granted for CMLT398B, HEBR498Q, JWST319Q, or ISRL349Q.

Modern Israel includes people of many different faiths, ethnicities, languages, and cultures, but, Jews of European origin have generally dominated its political and cultural climate. Through literature and film, we will explore how the sense of the "self" is constructed and how the "other" is imagined in Israeli culture. "Others" include Palestinians, Sephardim, Mizrahim, non-Zionists, women, and Eastern Europeans who do not relinquish their ties to the past, as well as other individuals who resist the collective ideologies of a nation constructing itself.

Instructor: Chen Edrei

Class time: TuTh 9:30am - 10:45am

 

ISRL349Z  Investigating Topics in Israel Studies; Beyond Black and White: Jews and Representations of Race

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

Also offered as JWST319M. Credit granted for ISRL349Z or JWST319M.

An examination of Western constructions and representations of 'race' from medieval times to the modern rise of Zionism and the founding of Israel, with a focus on how Jews utilized the racial discourses of each period to negotiate their position within Western history.

Instructor: Shirelle Doughty

Class time: Details on ELMS

 

*JWST289J (Premodern)  Jerusalem in Antiquity: The History of Sacred Space in a Holy City

Also offered as RELS289J. Credit will be granted for JWST289J or RELS289J.

The questions of sacred space through the topic of Jerusalem are explored. The study of Jerusalem's history as a holy city reveals the many ways by which sacred space is constructed. It will also examine the development of places that continue to hold great sanctity in Judaism (the Western Wall), Christianity (the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Mount of Olives), and Islam (the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Haram ash-Sharif).

Instructor: Matthew Suriano

Class time: MW 11:00am-11:50am plus Discussion (W 1:00pm-1:50pm, F 11:00am-11:50am, F 12:00pm-12:50pm, F 1:00-1:50pm)

 

*JWST429B (Premodern) Advanced Topics in Jewish Studies; Classical Arabic Philosophy by Muslims and Jews

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

Also offered as PHIL428B. Credit granted for PHIL428B or JWST429B. This course is an introduction to classical Arabic philosophy from the ninth to the thirteenth centuries of the Christian era. But unlike most courses on this topic, we shall not be reading philosophy soley by Muslims but also by Jews (and maybe Christians). In a sense, the course is best described by the title of the book by Dimitri Gutas, "Greek Thought, Arabic Culture".

Instructor: Charles Manekin

Class time: MW 3:30pm - 4:45pm

 

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

 

PERS251  Modern Iran

Credits: 3            Grad Meth: Reg, P-F, Aud             Core: SH, D         Gen Ed: DSHS

General sociopolitical introduction to modern Iran from establishment of the Qajar dynasty in the late 18th century to the present day. Taught in English.

Also offered as HIST219X. Credit granted for PERS251 or HIST219X.

Instructor: Ida Meftahi

Class time: TuTh 3:30pm - 4:45pm

 

PERS283  Iranian Cinema

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

Introduction to Iranian cinema, society, and culture. Taught in English

Also offered as FILM298B. Credit granted for PERS283 or FILM283.

Instructor: Ida Meftahi

Class time: MW 3:30pm - 4:45pm

 

*PERS498I  (Premodern) Special Topics in Persian Studies; Lyrics of Mystical Love, East and West

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

Instructor: Mohammad Bazargan

Class time: TuTh 2:00pm - 3:15pm