Introduction to the Middle East

History 12

Fall 2005
145 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
MWF 2-3

Goals: This course has four major goals. The first goal is to provide students with basic literacy in the field of Middle East history. This can prepare 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. Second, this course explores what it means to do history by explicitly referring to various approaches and methodologies used to construct narratives about change over time. Third, it is designed to help you contextualize current developments and to give you the tools to educate yourself on your own. Finally, this course includes training in writing, critical thinking, and thematic synthesis -skills that you will need regardless of career path-- through the assignment of brief weekly essays.

Content: 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.


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