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Courses & Requirements

Requirements for the Middle East Studies Minor

A minimum of 20 credits including History 107 and Religious Studies 131, and two required Arabic language courses (in sequential order, and/or demonstrated competency in elementary-level Arabic).

In addition, three electives from the following list are required, including at least one POL course and at least two of the three electives at the 300-level or above.  Electives include HIS-207, HIS-244, HIS/WS-307, HIS-308, HIS-310; POL/WS-222, POL/WS-333, POL/WS-352; POL/WS-373; REL-141, REL/WS-224, REL/WS-251, REL-303, REL-372.

Required Courses

HIS-107: The Making of the Modern Middle East (4.00)

This course is an introduction to the study of the modern Middle East that covers events and themes from the eighteenth century until the present day. The goal of the course is to introduce the major topics, events, movements, and ideas that shaped the Middle East. Such topics will include but are not limited to: the integration of the Middle East into the world economy; the advent of imperialism and colonialism; the reforms of the nineteenth century; the transition from empires to nation-states; the World Wars and state formation; the rise of nationalisms and the consolidation of the state; the Arab-Israeli conflict; the role of the United States in the Middle East; and finally the most recent Arab uprisings.

REL-131: Islam (4.00)

The course will focus upon Islam. It will survey Islamic history, its distinctive forms of faith and practice, its roles in society and its worldwide involvement in a host of issues related to social, economic and political developments. The course will explore sympathetic, critical and creative perspectives on Islam, particularly as related to the struggles of today's Muslim women. The course will include opportunities for experiential learning, primarily in the form of field trips to one or more Islamic communities in the Atlanta metropolitan area.

Arabic Courses

ARB-101: Elementary Arabic I (4.00)

This course is an introduction to listening, speaking, reading, and writing in Arabic and to the culture of Arabic-speaking regions. The course covers the alphabet, basic sentence structures and develops the ability to comprehend and communicate basic information in the Arabic language. This course covers both Modern Standard Arabic as well as Spoken Levantine dialect in order to prepare students to immediately interact with authentic materials and native speakers.

ARB-102: Elementary Arabic II (4.00)

This course is a continuation of Arabic 101, expanding on listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in Arabic at the novice level and increasing familiarization with the culture of Arabic-speaking regions. The course will expand vocabulary acquisition to enable discussion of basic topics including but not limited to geography, weather, education, travel, and food. This course will also continue to expose students to grammatical structures of both Modern Standard Arabic as well as regional dialects (primarily Spoken Levantine) through direct interaction with authentic audio-visual materials.

Course requisites: ARB-101

ARB-201: Intermediate Arabic I (4.00)

This course expands students' competence in the four skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing in Modern Standard Arabic. This course employs a variety of texts, multimedia tools, and topics that aim at promoting students' acquisition of vocabulary and grasp of grammar to achieve general communication skills and cultural competence. Prerequisite: ARB-102 or equivalent placement.

Course requisites: ARB-102 or equivalent placement

ARB-202: Intermediate Arabic II (4.00)

This course is a continuation of Arabic 201, expanding on listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in Modern Standard Arabic at the intermediate level. The course employs a variety of texts, multimedia tools, and topics that aim at promoting students' acquisition of vocabulary and grasp of grammar to achieve general communication skills and cultural competence. Prerequisite: ARB-201 or equivalent placement.

Course requisites: ARB-201 or equivalent placement


HIS-207: The Global Middle East (4.00)

The proliferation of commodities, ideas, and peoples throughout the globe during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries has led to the rise of global studies. This course explores themes in the modern Middle East in light of this "global" turn. The first three weeks will provide a theoretical background on the questions that inform the course. The discussion will start with an overview of the study of nationalism in the Middle East. It will then proceed to a discussion of approaches to that question using the "national" as a lens to study the history of the modern Middle East. Students will learn about such concepts as "transnationalism," "internationalism," and "globalization." The rest of the course will then explore various themes from the late nineteenth century to the present. This includes: the rise of the world economy, imperialism, the first wave of globalization, World War I and internationalism, diasporas and transnationalism, the global Cold War, oil, the "Global War on Terror." Finally, students will also be asked to think about the recent Arab uprisings and the merits of using transnationalism as a point of inquiry in the history of the Middle East.

HIS-244: Islam in the United States (4.00)

This course focuses on the history of Islam in the United States, with an emphasis on the arrival of Muslims before 1900 through slavery and voluntary migration; the development of black Islam and black nationalism; the role of gender and popular culture in contemporary American Muslim communities; the experience of Muslims post-9/11; and finally the relationship of the United States to Muslim citizens and the Muslim world.

HIS-307: Women and Gender in the Middle East (4.00)

This course is an overview of themes related to gender and women throughout the history of the Middle East, from the rise of Islam to the present. The course will cover the place and role of gender relations and women in religion, state, and society. Specific topics include the place of women in Islamic foundational texts, the shaping of gender relations in early Islamic society and jurisprudence, the role of women and family in Islamic empires, as well as the effect of imperialism on families and societies of the Middle East. Starting with the nineteenth century, we will explore the question of gender through the themes of migration, modernization, nationalism, sexuality, feminism, state formation, decolonization, the rise of political Islam, the "global war on terror", and finally the Arab Uprisings. Cross-listed with WS-307.

HIS-308: Minorities in the Arab World (4.00)

This class aims to critically examine the history of minorities in the making of the modern Middle East. It traces the shift from an ethnically and religiously diverse Ottoman Empire to a system of nation-states defined by ethnic or religious exclusivity. The course opens with a discussion of theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of diversity in the modern Middle East. The first half of the course will cover topics that examine the Ottoman millet system, the emergence of modern notions of citizenship and sectarianism in the nineteenth century, the Armenian genocide and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the role of colonialism in the politicization of ethnic and religious groups in the post-Ottoman period, as well as the role of minorities in identity politics and the formation of unifying ideologies. The second half of the course will examine the role of minorities in the states of Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, and Iraq. Finally, the course will end with a discussion of the rise of the Islamic State and the future role of minorities in today's Middle East. Cross-listed with REL-309.

HIS-310: People on the Move: Migration/ & Displacement in the Middle East (4.00)

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE: MIGRATION & DISPLACEMENT IN THE MIDDLE EAST--The current Syrian "refugee crisis" has turned the world's attention to the questions of migration and displacement. This course traces the historical trajectory of these topics by considering the history of the modern Middle East through the theme of mobility and migration. It charts the transformation of migration patterns as the Middle East moved from a system of empires to a system of nation-states. Specific topics include but are not limited to: the population policies of the Ottoman Empire at its inception, population movement during the Russo-Turkish wars of the nineteenth century, Syrian migration to the Americas, ethnic cleansing, forced displacement, and population transfers during and after World War I, Jewish emigration and immigration during the twentieth century, passport regimes during the interwar period, labor migration in the Gulf, as well as the current refugee crisis.

POL-222: Human Rights in Muslim Contexts (4.00)

Is Islam compatible with human rights? We will analyze various debates surrounding this issue, exploring key actors and factors in state-society relations, conceptualizations of Middle Eastern politics, Muslim culture, and human rights. The course will present various debates on key rights issues, including minority and women's rights, and explore the impact of transnational activist networks on domestic human rights concerns. Cross-listed with WS-222.

POL-333: Women and the Politics of Social Change In Muslim Contexts (4.00)

The course examines the increasingly visible role played by women in political, religious, and social movements in Muslim contexts, focusing on diverse forms of activism and organization. We will analyze social movement theory and debates about the (in)compatibility between rights/gender equality and Islam as well as specific issues such as family rights, violence against women, religious expression, and women's political representation. Cross-listed with WS-333.

POL-352: Global Feminisms (4.00)

This interdisciplinary course explores global/transnational feminist issues as individual and collective practices and as organized movements. Cross-listed with WS-352.

Course requisites: WS-100, WS/POL/REL-125 or WS/POL-222 (or permission)

POL-373: Middle East Politics & Society (4.00)

This course introduces students to the major political and social developments of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) from the end of the Ottoman Empire (post-WWI) until today. In addition to a chronological history and overview of the region and the formation of its nation-states throughout the 20th century, the course also delves into a number of thematic topics related to Middle East politics and society. The course takes an interdisciplinary approach in analyzing key aspects of the post-colonial state (institutions, law, and ideology), the emergence of civil society, the growth and development of social movements (particularly women's and minority rights movements), and ongoing popular protest (for example, the "Arab Spring"). Key controversies such as the (in)compatibility between Islam and liberal democracy and the nature of political Islam will be explored. (Cross-listed with WS-373.)

REL-141: Islamic Mysticism (4.00)

Broadly speaking Islam is said to have an "outer" and an "inner" dimension. This course will focus on the "inner" dimension of Islam. It is a survey course on Islamic spirituality and the varieties of Islamic mystical traditions and does not have any prerequisites. It is designed as a thematic and conceptual introduction to "inner" Islam. We will start with a short introduction to Islam and then proceed to the key terms and concepts such as 'inner,' 'spiritual,' 'esoteric,' and 'mystical.' Next we will cover historical origins of these traditions, then move to study its diverse practices, and end with looking at the challenges faced by Islamic mystical traditions in the present.

REL-224: Leadership, Feminism & Religion (4.00)

In most religious cultures, women as a group were denied an active and authoritative role in its formation and interpretation. This course will look at women's struggle with their respective religious traditions and examples where women did play a role in shaping the tradition. We will explore the lives of women in multiple religious tradition: indigenous, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, and Islam. Together, we will explore some of the following themes: traditional religious knowledge production, patriarchy, feminism both as an analytical tool and as a social vision, women as moral agents, and development of feminist theories in various world religions, feminist critiques, and reforms presented. We will end the course by looking at concrete social issues, for example, sexual violence, abortion, pornography, and reproductive technologies to see how feminist in different religious traditions have influenced change. Cross-listed with WS-224.

REL-251: Gender, Sexuality & Islam (4.00)

Gender and sexuality are crucial to understanding the political, social, and economic life in the world today. Gender and sexuality studies challenge a number of traditional, academic, and cultural perspectives. In this course, we will be using critical texts from a wide variety of disciplines to examine gender and sexuality in the Muslim context. Using gender and sexuality as our main lens of analysis, we will be able to tease out the complex relationships between religion and culture and think about how particular constructions of culture have been pivotal to the reproduction of each of these social structures. In the final section of the course, we will look at transnational discourses that shape the way in which Islam and "the woman question" is imagined in relationship to gender and sexuality. We will also learn about Orientalism, colonialism, and the role of global inequalities. Cross-listed with WS-251.

REL-303: Qur'an: a Theological & Literary Study (4.00)

QUR'AN: A THEOLOGICAL AND LITERARY STUDY--This course covers two aspects of the Qur'an as text: theological and literary. This first part of this course will introduce students to the moral and spiritual significance of the Qur'an in the lives of Muslims, who consider the Qur'an to be uncorrupted Divine speech. Some of the themes we will study from the Qur'an are: idea of God, Prophets, female Prophets, religious pluralism, women, marriage, and sexuality. The second section of the course will consider Qur'an as a literary masterpiece, which it is widely acknowledged as. The Qur'an makes use of a vast array of literary techniques and devices to present its message. For example, it tells stories, cites parables, uses unparalleled rhymed prose, uses masterful language on the level of words and phrases, satire, irony, draws character sketches, uses word play and ambiguity, and finally since it was produced over two decades it embodies a variety of stylistic variation. There exists in Arabic a large corpus of works that look at the literary features of the Qur'an, which we will read in translation in class. We will also read more contemporary literary theory and consider its applicability to the Qur'an. The hope of this course is that even those outside the faith can experience the beauty of the Qur'an.

REL-372: Fiction, Film and Orientalism (4.00)

Orientalism, as defined by Edward Said, is the ideology that promotes the "West-and-non-West" dichotomy and the idea that "Others are less human." Neo-Orientalism is savvier, and has a more complex and dualist nature, not all that is read or seen is neo-Orientalism narratives is wrong and pejorative, and most significantly, it is written not by outsiders about "the other" like in Orientalism, but by "authentic" insiders. Both narratives serve largely the same purpose, which is to dominate and subordinate both politically and intellectually the non-West. In this course, books and movies that have become bestsellers in the West will be analyzed for Orientalism and neo-Orientalism.

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