The Middle East

History 12

Spring 2013
Day & Time: 
MWF 11-12P

The current popular uprisings in the Middle East underscore the dynamism and vitality of a region that has played a central role in human history since ancient times. This course introduces students to the major historical developments in this region from the rise of Islam to the present. It is designed to help you contextualize current developments and to give you the tools to educate yourself on your own. It also prepares you for more advanced courses in the Dept. of History (such as 109C) or courses in other departments that require some background in the history of the Middle East. There are two other benefits to this course. First, it explores what it means to do history by explicitly referring to various approaches and methodologies used to construct narratives about change over time. Second, the cultivation of a historical sensibility is backed up by training in critical thinking, writing, and thematic synthesis -skills that you will need regardless of career path. 

Themes: The diverse peoples of Southwest Asia/North Africa (a region recently labeled "The Middle East") have a rich and remarkable history. They established some of the earliest centers of agriculture-based civilizations and urban life, carried the messages of the world's three monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), and served as the economic and cultural middlemen of the world system during the medieval and early modern periods. The first part of this course provides a brief outline of these and other themes up to the Seventeenth Century. The second part focuses on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, an era of intense social, economic and cultural transformation that led to the demise of the Ottoman and other empires and the emergence of a new state system, most of it under the colonial domination of Britain and France. The remainder of the course (Parts III, IV) is devoted to an exploration of the forces that have shaped the Middle East during the Twentieth Century such as the colonial encounter and rise of nationalist movements, the discovery of oil, regional conflicts and the Cold War, the rise of political Islam, and U.S. military intervention. Throughout, the major themes will be illustrated through case studies of specific countries as well as through the study of the causes and consequences of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the Iranian Revolution, and the Gulf Wars.

 Requirements: Mid-term and final exams, brief writing assignment, attending lectures, and participation in discussion sections.

Course Books

Season of Migration to the North by Salih, Tayib New York Review of Books Classics, 2009. ISBN: 978-1590173022 Required
Men in the Sun, 2nd ed by Kanafani, Ghassan 3 Continents Press, 1998. ISBN: 978-0894108570 Required
Struggle & Survival in the Modern Middle East, 2nd ed by Burke III, Edmund & Yacoubian, David, eds., UC Press, 2005. ISBN: 978-0520246614 Required
James Gelvin, The Modern Middle East, 3rd ed by Gelvin, James Oxford UP, 2011. ISBN: 978-0199766055 Required