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I. Teaching Philosophy
II. Teaching Responsibilities
A. Area Studies Courses
            1. History 126: Histories and Cultures of the Middle East
            2. Students' Assessment of History 126
            3. History 271: Islamic Civilization
            4. Students' Evaluation of History 271
            5. History 378: Islam
            6. Students' Evaluation of History 378
B. Historiographical Courses
            1. History 296: Historiography and Historical Method
            2. Students Evaluation of History 296
            3. History 496: Philosophy of History and Historiography
            4. Students' Evaluation of History 496
C. Curriculum Development and Other Teaching Related Activities
            1. History/English 389.72: Rhetoric and the Historical Imagination
            2. Student Assessment of History/English 389.72
            3. Independent Studies,  Theses, and Dissertations
IV. Future Goals
V. Appendices:
Appendix 1: History 126: Histories and Cultures of the Middle East
Appendix 2: History 271: Islamic Civilization
Appendix 3: History 272: Modern Middle East
Appendix 4: History 296: Historiography and Historical Method
Appendix 5: History 378: Islam
Appendix 6: History 389.72: Rhetoric and the Historical Imagination
Appendix 7: History 496: Philosophy of History and Historiography
Appendix 8. History 525: Interpretive Problems in Non-Western History
Appendix 9: Course proposal for History/English 389.72
Appendix 10: Proposals for "Nations and Narration" and Capstone in History
Appendix 11: A proposal for a New Program of General Education
Appendix 12: General Education and History: A position Paper
Appendix 13: Recent Lectures, Seminars and Conferences
Appendix 14: Recounting the Past
Appendix 15: Popular Student Views of the Middle East
Appendix 16: Series of Lectures and Films on Middle Eastern Women
Appendix 17: Global Review Events
Appendix 18: Students' Review of Public Lectures and Seminars
Appendix 19: Samples of Position Papers
Appendix 20: Samples of Playscripts
Appendix 21: A Sample of  Midterm Synopsis
Appendix 22: A Sample of Course Summary
Appendix 23: A Sample of Student Self-Evaluation
Appendix 24: A Sample of Internet Search
Appendix 25: Current Students' Stereotypical Views of Islam and the Middle East
Appendix 26: Earlier Students' Stereotypical Views of Islam and the Middle East
Appendix 27: Students' Reflection on Popular Perceptions at the End of the Semester
Appendix 28: Students' Assessment of History 126
Appendix 29: Students' Evaluation of History 126
Appendix 30: Samples of Students' Course-Evaluation
Appendix 31: Students' Evaluation of History 271
Appendix 32: Students' Evaluation of History 378
Appendix 33: Dialogical Pedagogy Series, Autumn 1993
Appendix 34: Peer Evaluation of Dialogical Pedagogy Series, 1992
Appendix 35: Peer Evaluation of Dialogical Pedagogy Series, 1993
Appendix 36: Students Evaluation of History 296
Appendix 37: Students Evaluation of History 496
Appendix 38: Students' Assessment of History/English 389.72

I. Teaching Philosophy

            I view teaching as a process of empowering students and enabling them to lead a successful and fulfilling life.  I promote these through an interactive, collaborative, and inquiry-based pedagogy.  My dialogical teaching strategy engenders in students a desire to learn, elevates their self-confidence and self-respect, and encourages them to cooperate with others. 

             As an historian, my primary focus is not teaching "mere facts" but to enable students to think critically about the production and organization of data into sequential historical narratives.  Rather than offering students a pre-programmed account of the past, I challenge them to reflect on diverse patterns of causation and various scenarios and options available to historical agents.  In my lectures, I redirect the task of explanation to students and seek to involve them in the search for plausible explanations for historical problems.  I encourage them to interrogate authoritative historical accounts, including my own, by evaluating the reliability of sources and how facts are selected, judged, and organized into a perspectival account of the past.  The critical historical thinking skills developed in my classes are transferable to other courses, disciplines, and the world beyond the academy.  My colleagues often identify my students on the basis of their critical historical thinking skills and the foundational questions that they pose. 

            My concern with students' growth does end with the class. I seek to develop opportunities for their intellectual development beyond classroom by organizing campus-wide seminar series and end-of-the semester conferences.  In the "Dialogical Pedagogy Series," "South/West Asian & Global Studies Seminar Series," and Global Connections Seminar Series, I have provided opportunities for students to develop a global perspective and to sharpen their critical historical thinking skills by interacting with the faculty and invited guest speakers. A significant feature of my upper level courses is an end-of-the-semester student conference, where students present their research papers in a professional setting.  By building students' professional portfolio, the biannual conferences have enhanced students' professional growth and employability.  Internet based assignments also help them to develop basic skills that are useful for success beyond the academy.

II. Teaching Responsibilities

            Since 1989 I have been responsible for the following general education, disciplinary, and multidisciplinary courses at Illinois State University:

      1. History 126: Histories and Cultures of the Middle East

      2. History 271: Islamic Civilization

      3. History 272: Modern Middle Eastern History

      4. History 296: Historiography and Historical Method

      5. History 378: Islam

      6. History/English 389.72: Rhetoric and the Historical Imagination

      7. History 496: Philosophy of History and Historiography

      8. History 525: Interpretive Problems in the History of Non-Western Civilization

These courses can be divided into either area studies or historiogaphical courses (for sample syllabi see Appendices 1-8).  My epistemological commitment to trans-disciplinary historical research inspired me to develop a team taught course, "Rhetoric and Historical Imagination" (see Appendix 9). In cooperation with Dr. Rebecca Saunders of English I developed another interdisciplinary course, "Nations and Narration," which was integrated into the "outer core" of the new General Education (see Appendix 10).  All of my courses are writing-intensive and students are expected to actively participate in learning communities and in both on-line and class discussions.  In addition to my teaching I have been actively involved in curricular reform in the University and the Department of History.  To enhance intellectual interaction among students and faculty I have organized the Dialogical Pedagogy Series,
South and Southwest Asian & Global Studies Seminar Series,
Global Connections Seminar Series, and biannual conferences on
Rhetoric and the Historical Imagination (see Appendix 11). As the founding editor of Recounting the Past: A Student Journal of Historical Research at Illinois State University, I have promoted high quality scholarship among our students (see Appendix 12).  As an associate editor of Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East and a member of the editorial board of Iranian Studies: Journal of the Society for Iranian Studies, I have also contributed to the professional growth of younger scholars in my own area of research.

A. Area Studies Courses

            History 103, 126 and 271 are classified as General Education courses and are intended to introduce students to Non-Western cultures and civilizations.  The majority of students taking 103, 126, 271, and 272 have no prior knowledge of the Middle East and/or Islam.  Students enrolled in History 272 often include veterans of the Persian Gulf War and ROTC students who expect to be sent to the Middle East in the near future.  History 378 is taken by a more diverse group of students including those in Religious Studies and Women’s Studies.  Enrollment in History 525 was restricted to doctoral level students in history, many of whom are elementary and high school teachers.  Most doctoral students, like the undergraduates, have a surprisingly limited knowledge of the Middle Eastern and/or Islamic history and culture.  Their limited knowledge is often accompanied by a fetishized view of the Middle East and Muslims.  These courses are often the only exposure that students have to non-Western history and culture.  The significance of these courses in general education of students has made me increasingly conscious of my role as a general, multicultural, and global educator.  I have restructured these area studies courses in order to provide students with frameworks for understanding and appreciating the contribution of non-European peoples to universal history and world civilization. In the following section I explain in detail my teaching strategy and students' assessment of History 126; I also outline briefly the structure of History 271 and 378.

1. History 126: Histories and Cultures of the Middle East

            This has been one of my primary teaching assignments since 1989.  My basic objective is to offer students a global framework for an historical understanding of Middle Eastern culture and its contributions to the Western civilization.  This framework is embedded in my inquiry-based pedagogy and active engagement of students in the search for comparative historical understanding.  On the first day of class I ask students to write down a list of terms and concepts that they associate with the Middle East and/or Islam.  An overwhelming majority of students classify Middle Easterners and Muslims as "terrorists," "religious fanatics," and "barbarians." On the second session I read back to students their impressions of the Middle East and invite them to reflect critically on their own perceptions (see Appendix 15).  After analyzing their stereotypical views of the Middle East, I introduce students to ethnic, religious, linguistic, and cultural diversity of the region. I familiarize them with the Judeo-Christian origin of Islam and compare various verses of the Qura’n with verses from the Old and New Testaments.  Having examined these germinal religious texts, students reflect on the similarities and difference between these Abrahimic religions.  For instance, we compare Muslim and Christian views of prophecy and Jesus.  The class also compares the version of the creation story common to Judaism, Christianity and Islam with that of Zoroastrianism.  In these dialogues students become familiar with various reading strategies including Christian and Islamic-Feminist interpretations of Creation.

            In addition to religious traditions, I address issues of slavery and gender in the Middle East.   I provide students with a background for comparative analysis of American and Middle Eastern slavery.  Students also learn about the historical contribution of Middle Eastern women.  As a result they reflect critically on the popular and stereotypical views of Middle Eastern women as passive submissive. Whenever possible I link the discussion of gender in the Middle East with a series of campus wide activities and current events.  A few years ago, for instance, Linda Giles (Anthropology, ISU), Pamela Moro (Anthropology, IWU), and myself organized a special series of lectures and films by Professor Elizabeth Fernia of the University of Texas on Middle Eastern women.  These activities enabled students to understand the complexity of gender as a historical and political force in the Middle East.

            To familiarize students with the world beyond central Illinois, I encourage them to attend lectures and participate in seminars on global issues.  To facilitate this process I work closely with the organizers of Global Review, a weekly lecture series held every Thursday evening at the International House.  I recommend and invite speakers dealing with issues related to my courses. To contribute to the ongoing campus discussion, I organized panel discussions on multiculturalism and global education.  In addition to Global Review events, I have founded and organized the weekly South and Southwest Asian Seminar Series.  My students are encouraged to attend these weekly lectures and write brief summaries (see Appendix 18).  This successful seminar series brought together students and faculty interested in the Middle East and Indian subcontinent.  The ongoing "Global Connections Seminar Series, which is founded by the Office of the Provost, continues the same spirit.  The combination of classroom and campus wide lectures and seminars offers students opportunities for intellectual interaction with visiting speakers and promotes a deeper understanding of the Middle East and the world beyond the United States. 

            The large size of this class does not prohibit me from promoting active learning and student participation.  I engage students to analyze historical problems in the course of lectures. For instance, I ask them to explain why Muslims chose to begin their calendar with the establishment of the first Muslim community in 622 CE instead of the birth of Muhammad in 570 CE. In a comparative historical approach, I invite them to imagine how the Christian and Muslim reckoning of time offers insights into the differential understanding of Jesus and Muhammad in Christian and Islamic history and theology.   In my inquiry-based pedagogy students often improvise the outlines of informed scholarly views on such historical questions.

            To promote a more dynamic class interaction each student writes and e-mails me a minimum of seven "thought questions" or "position papers" analyzing the readings, lectures, and/or critical events in the Middle East (see appendix 19 for samples).  I monitor all messages and distribute them to class members via an on-line discussion list.  Students are encouraged to read and respond to posted massages.  Issues raised on-line are revisited in class discussions.  Advance preparation and familiarity of students with range of views via e-mail has made class discussions highly informed.  The addition of on-line discussion has altered the traditional conception of class as a space and as a time period.  Class members are now capable of interacting with one another all time.  Temporal and spatial accessibility has improved the quality of student participation in class.          

            To facilitate collaboration, in the beginning of the semester students are asked to join learning and performance ensembles of 5-6 individuals.  Each ensemble selects stories for theatrical performances from The One Thousand and One Nights and the Pleasantries of the Incredible Mullas Nasrudin, both of which are significant texts of medieval Middle Eastern popular culture.  Every class session begins with a short skit based on the wisdom and sayings of Mulla Nasrudin.  These entertaining performances promote punctuality and create a friendly environment for cooperative learning. The performances based on 1001 Nights are professionally staged during two scheduled class sessions.  To prepare for their performances students write a collaborative playscript (see Appendix 20). The theatrical performance enables students to act out and empathize with different cultural practices. The cooperative spirit developed through performance ensembles is utilized by students to improve their course work. 

            In addition to a playscripts and biweekly "thought questions," students write two ten-page synopses.  The first synopsis includes a condensed summary of the central points in lectures and assigned readings by mid-semester (see Appendix 21).  Students have the option of rewriting their papers for extra credit.  This option has motivated students to use computers for class assignments.  The second synopsis is a critical evaluation of the major themes of the course and is submitted at the end of the semester along with a writing portfolio (see Appendix 22 for a sample of course summary).  Students are asked to include in their portfolio a self-evaluation, a course-evaluation, and samples of their written works. The portfolio is submitted along with a cover-sheet that summarizes their efforts.  In self-evaluations students explain the goals they set for themselves in the course, the criteria by which they judge their work, a description of how they have achieved their goals, and the grade that appropriately rates their performance (see Appendix 23.1).  I assign the final grade by comparing students' self-evaluation with my own estimation of their achievements.  Most often students and my estimations concur.  Some bashful students tend to underrate their performance and a few students tend to grade themselves too liberally (see Appendix 23.2).  End-of-the-semester interview with students assists me in evaluating students' progress and identifying areas for course improvement.

             Despite the temptation to reduce my work load by assigning multiple choice tests, I have remained dedicated to written assignments.  These assignments improve students' writing skills, offer them the opportunity of reflecting critically on readings and lectures, and enable them to assess their own intellectual growth.  The on-line and World Wide Web resources on the Middle East familiarize students with cutting edge instructional technology. (see Appendix 24 for an example).  Many students become familiar with e-mail and World Wide Web for the first time in History 126.  The course not only globalizes students' vision but also prepares them for life and work in the global community.

2. Students' Assessment of 126:

            A comparison of students' perceptions of the Middle East on the first day of class and their self- and course-evaluations at the end offer valuable resources for assessment.  In response to the question, "What sense do you make of the Middle East" one student wrote, "Violence, savage, terrorism."  Another student listed, "Muslims, Arabs, war, oil."  Another recounted, "Backward people, radical faith, sexism." Other typical encapsulations of the Middle East were "Sudam Hussein-war," "war, troubled nations,"  and "oil, sands and deserts.  Women wearing vails [sic] on their faces." Recording their perceptions, students often failed to differentiate between the Middle East and Indian subcontinent. For instance one student described her/his view of the Middle East in the following manner: "Women in long silky robes that covers them from head to toe with a red dot on their forehead." Another student listed, "Hindu, vegetarians, confrontations-confusion, highly religious, self sacrificing."  Another equated the Middle East with "stinky cows with flies all over, tons of people in the streets." A more sophisticated student wrote, "I think Middle East has to do with Asia."  These are representative views of students who take History 126 (see Appendix 25).  For a list of students' perceptions in pervious semesters see Appendix 26.

            Needless to say, stereotypical views are radically changed by the end of semester (see Appendix 27).  For instance Adam Gotlieb, in his self-evaluation in wrote, "The key idea that I learned is that it is extremely important to remain open to different ideas and cultures and to gather good information before coming to an opinion.  As was seen in the Oklahoma disaster, it is extremely easy to place blame on a whole group of people, Middle Easterners, rather than the offenders themselves"  (see Appendix 28.1). Amy Manafici evaluating the course in wrote, "I now possess a completely different view and understanding of the Middle East.  One of the ideas that have really intrigued me is the similarities between Islam and other religions in the world.  Islam has always been portrayed as something completely removed from all other religions.  It is nice to find out the truth" (see Appendix 28.2)  Katrin Walkins wrote, "In this class, I learned to put my prejudice to the side and try to judge other cultures by their own standards . . ."  (see Appendix 28.3).

Commenting on the course, Michelle Scannicchio wrote, "I really enjoyed the class and its organization.  Professor Tavakoli was always sunny and energetic.  His enthusiasm inspired me to also be excited about course materials.  I think that the course structure, by having major projects due rather than test was refreshing.  I found that I learned more and retained more through the process of writing each synopsis than I ever could have from a test.  There is the tendency, when being tested to cram facts rather than to learn and explore concepts.  The papers enabled me to grasp at deeper meanings than would have otherwise been possible"  (see Appendix 29.1).  Jeremy Balfe, who changed his major to History-Education after taking History 126 wrote, "This course had quite a different format than what I have been used to.  There seems to be a great emphasis on participation and class discussion.  This has come as a refreshing change.  It allows for the fee-flow of ideas that is able to reach larger audiences . . . An excellent environment was created from day one" (see Appendix 29.2). Commenting on my teaching approach, Fry added, "I applaud Dr. Tavakoli and his energetic teaching manner--I think that any time a teacher can present this type of enthusiasm it only encourages the students to get more involved, as I did" (see Appendix 30.4).  Further commenting on my teaching style Richard Kann wrote, "I have to admit that you are by far the most enthusiastic teacher I have ever met. . . . I love how you try to get everyone involved in the class . . . " (see Appendix 30.5).  Ann Mackin stated, "I really enjoyed the class and the way in which it was established.  The lectures, readings, films, assignments and discussions were unique from most other university classes" (see Appendix 30.7).  She concluded, "I really felt like I got my money's worth in this class and would recommend the class to friends" (see Appendix 30.8).  Melissa Orwig stated, "I like your style of thinking of students as people and not just Social Security Numbers like every other teacher I have" (see Appendix 30.9). Patrick Twist concluded, "Dr. Tavakoli is a very brilliant man who knows the Middle Eastern history from way back before I can imagine.  He attempts to get the entire class involved in his discussions and is an excellent instructor" (see Appendix  30.10).

3. History 271: Islamic Civilization

      This University Studies course is a survey of Islamic civilization from its foundation in the 7th century to the present.  It offers a chronological and topical approach to the study of Islamic civilization.  The main objectives of the course are: (1) to survey the contours of Islamic history; (2) to familiarize students with a non-western civilization, its value systems, and its contributions to humanity; and (3) to teach analytical methods for understanding diverse peoples, cultures, and patterns of social identity. 

Last semester I experimented with a new course structure.  The first half of the semester was in lecture format punctuated with discussions.  This part was designed to familiarize students with the major themes in Islamic Studies.  This part was concluded with a written take-home examination covering the materials included lectures and readings. The second part of the semester was conducted in a seminar fashion.  Students were divided into four learning communities.  Each learning community was responsible for leading in-depth critical evaluation of one of the assigned texts focusing on "Women and Gender," "Race and Slavery,"  "Religion and Politics," "Politics and Literature." In preparation for class discussion, students were encouraged to dialogue with one another via e-mail.

In consultation with me and the members of their perspective learning communities, students wrote a 15-20 page computer generated paper on topics related the themes of the course.  A short memo-proposal describing the paper topic, with one-page working bibliography, was due on February 2.  Preliminary draft of papers were circulated among community members by February 28.  These papers, in addition to the assigned texts, provided the basis for class discussions in the second part of the semester.  The final course grade was determined on the basis of class attendance, examination, learning community presentations and discussions, and research papers.

4. Students' Evaluation of History 271

            Evaluating the course one student wrote, "I found this course as a tutor or mentor in my every day life.  I was able to take discussion, knowledge & history out of this class & make it work for me.  It helped me a great deal, especially at time  when I found myself lost in life.  I'm very happy to learn more learn more about myself & never to quite, or underestimate others" (see Appendix 31.1).   Evaluating the course instructor a class member remarked, "Dr. Tavakoli is a great instructor.  He makes sure to present information in an understandable way.  Another good quality of Dr. Tavakoli is his willingness to help his students.  Dr. Tavakoli is always available" (see Appendix 31.2).  Another student concluded, "Dr. Tavakoli is a fantastic teacher.  I'm going to miss him" (see Appendix 31.3).  

5. History 378: Islam

            In this course I experimented with teaching about Islam through the discussion of women and gender.  This enabled me to introduce and compare both classical and feminist reinterpretation of Islam. The class examined carefully a number of revisionist historical texts by Muslim feminists.  Perceptions of women in the Qur'an and the Prophetic traditions were among issues revisited in these texts.  We studied personalities such as Shahrzad, the narrator of the famous One Thousand and One Nights stories; Joseph and Zulaykha's Qur’anic love story, revisionist views on Adam and Eve, and a feminist reading of the philosophical story of Hai bin Yaqzan.  After a careful examination of the classical views on women, the class focused on women in the Islamic Republic of Iran.  In order to enhance the quality of class discussion each student prepared a 1-2 page summary/analysis to assigned readings. Students were encouraged to make their weekly position-papers available to other students via e-mail prior to class meetings.  The final grade was based on weekly summaries, small group presentations, memo-proposal describing the final research paper, a final research paper, and conference presentation.

6. Students' Evaluation of History 378

            Student evaluations of this experimental approach to Islam was overwhelmingly positive.  On the course evolution at the end of the semester a student wrote, "This course was designed in a very original manner which gave me the opportunity to further understand the complexity of History as a discipline (see Appendix 32.1).  One  graduate student said, "I enjoyed the class and the material we read, and the interaction between students in class.  The class discussions were on a much higher level--more sophisticated--than many graduate courses that I took"  (see Appendix 32.2).  Reflecting on the content of the course, another student commented, "I thoroughly enjoyed this class.  It was extremely intellectually stimulating, the course material was quite good, and I can honestly say that never before have I enjoyed a better understanding of women's issues for which I will be eternally grateful"  (see Appendix 32.3).  Another student viewed History 378 as "a very engaging class and highly intellectual."  Commenting on my teaching s/he wrote, "His enthusiasm taught me that learning can be fun regardless of the topic.  I hope that his enthusiasm will never die."  (see Appendix 32.4) Another student remarked, "I love the style of this class, interaction, materials, and teaching. Excellent"  (see Appendix 32.5).  Another student concluded, "This class was one of my most challenging & stimulating classes in my college career.  It was a great deal of work, but worth the effort and time"  (see Appendix 32.6).

B. Historiographical Courses

            Historiogaphical courses are another significant part of my teaching responsibilities.  I was called upon to teach in this area after the success of my experimental course History/English 378.72. To prepare students for a productive intellectual life and fill a serious void in their education, I shifted the content of these courses from "the study of representative historians" to the exploration of historiogaphical debates in history and the allied fields.  Rather than gatherers of historical facts, I sought to train students in historical epistemology and critical historical thinking.   This is significant since many of our students are preparing to become history and social science teachers. To enable these future teachers to become critical readers of historical texts, I supplemented the course work with Dialogical Pedagogy Series and end-of-the-semester conferences. 

1. History 296: Historiography and Historical Method

            I employed the Dialogical Pedagogy Series as a  significant technique in my inquiry-based instruction for History 296.  After learning the basic historical thinking skills, students critically read designated articles written by eight ISU historians who visited the class.  Sessions begin with a student's welcoming address and a brief introduction to the scholarly contributions of the guest historian.   Remarks were followed by historiogaphical questions posed by students.  In these questions students explored the narrative structure, pattern of causation, and historical reasoning and documentation used by the visiting historian.  These questions become the basis of debate among students and the visitor.  In this manner students learned to apply their critical thinking skills and to ask sophisticated questions of visiting historian.  During the eight weeks of the "Dialogical Pedagogy Series" the classroom was open to the university communitee. 

            The Series met the goal of enhancing students' critical historical thinking skills and fostering  a closer intellectual interaction between students and the faculty.  This was recognized in my annual departmental review in 1992, "Particularly impressive was your creating of the 'Dialogical Pedagogy Series,' which was a well-received addition to your course in Historiography and Historical Methods (History 296)" (see Appendix 34).  In the annual review for 1993 it was noted, "your upper-division Historiography was widely praised.  The 'Dialogical Pedagogy Series' which you incorporated into the class while inviting outside participation received much attention" (see Appendix 35).  In the past few years I have also made the biannual Rhetoric and the Historical Imagination Conference a significant part of this course.

2. Students' Evaluation of History 296

            Commenting on "Historiography and Historical Method," a student wrote, "The concept of extensive class participation was useful and very educational.  I think more classes should be conducted in this fashion" (see Appendix 36.1). Another student observed, "I believe that Mr. Tavakoli was a very fine teacher and I have never learned as much from one class as I have here.  I would highly recommend this class to my fellow history students as a must if they want to follow through with becoming a history major" (see Appendix 36.2).  Another student stated, "This class was very eye-opening.  I feel more confident about being able to critically read writings" (see Appendix 36.3). Another student added, "Taking this course has taught me a lot and I will be more aware of reading history and not take it for face value.  It has taught me to be more critical.  I feel that anyone who is thinking of taking a history degree should take this course"  (see Appendix 36.4).  Commenting on the same course for Spring 1991, a student wrote: "I learned a lot about the study of history in this course, things that I would never have thought of had I not taken it.  You could say it really broadened my horizon" (see Appendix 36.5).  Another student agreed that, "Tavakoli has taught me a great deal concerning the writing of history. . . My only wish is to have more classes such as this.  It is my suggestion that this course becomes mandatory for history majors" (see Appendix 36.6).  Another student remarked, "The most important thing I grasped was that I became truly conscious of the act of writing and interpreting history" (see Appendix 36.7).  Evaluating the course, another student observed, "Probably the most challenging classes I have taken ever at ISU.  . . . The course is a must for anyone who takes history seriously.  This course will definitely influence my historical writing and, despite the sometimes nihilistic turn the material can produce, has encouraged me to pursue history.  Excellent" (see Appendix 36.8).

3. History 496: Philosophy of History and Historiography

            To prepare our students for the challenges faced by historians in an increasingly multidisciplinary academic and professional environment, I have focused course readings on historiogaphical issues raised in diverse fields of humanities and social sciences.   Topics  addressed include historical facts, evidence, objectivity, documentation, canonization, intertextuality, and narration.  Other topics that were covered included the role of selection, judgment, stylization, and polemic in the portrayal of the past; mentalities and the structures of consciousness, criteria of periodization, continuity and discontinuity, microscopic and macroscopic scales, sequence and consequence.  To enhance our students' ability to interact with other disciplines, this year I am teaching this course in conjunction with Professor Curtis White's "Narrative Theory (English 404).

All students are required to apply the critical approaches learned in the course to a work in progress.  Weekly assigned readings were used to critically reexamine and improve their research papers. Students are not only expected to understand the assigned readings but also demonstrate the ability to apply the readings to their area of research.  Weekly analyses of readings are followed by a one-page critical reflections on their papers.  Critical reflections are designed to identify areas in which the research paper could be improved.  All position papers are made available to other students via an e-mail discussion-list 24 hours prior to class meeting.

      Students are divided into four learning communities.  Each group is responsible leading weekly discussions over assigned readings. In addition to weekly reading analyse, students are asked to write a short memo-proposal describing how they intended to improve their research papers.  The proposal is accompanied by a two-page working bibliography identifying both the primary and secondary sources.  All students are further required to write a final research paper directed toward a professional audience other than the course instructor.  Students present their papers in a public conference at the end of the semester.  To gauge the overall progress of students I asked them to compile a writing portfolio consisting of their original paper, weekly summaries, proposal and bibliography, and the final research paper.  The portfolio also included their e-mail correspondences with other class members.  To enhance the campus wide involvement of students, in addition, I encouraged them to participate in History Department's Student-Faculty Seminar and other public presentations scheduled for that semester.  In this fashion, the critical approaches developed in these courses are fine tuned in their interaction with the faculty and guest-speakers.

4. Students' Evaluaton of History 496

Evaluating this course, one student wrote, "Conference, a great idea.  A good way of getting students to their best--as well as a good way to share ideas, etc.  Discussions were always lively and people were prepared for class. Subject mater was often difficult to understand--but in the end it all seemed to come together.  Overall M.T. [sic] is one of the best professors in the history dep't and his lead should be exemplified by more in the dep't" (see Appendix 37.1). Another class member, remarked, "Group discussions and presentations were very stimulating.  Very interesting approach was introduced to using the information learned, that is rewriting an old paper and developing a new approach.  Conference in the end of end of the semester, where the students presented their papers, was very beneficial for me" (see Appendix 37.2).   Another student concluded, "Excellent class.  The only sorrow that I have is that I have taken all of Dr. Tavakoli's classes and graduate next semester.  His teaching methods are excellent.  The material is tough, but I have learned a tremendous amount.  Every history major (grad) should take this.  Great experience" (see Appendix 37.3).  As a result of positive student evaluations, the Department of History has made History 496 is made a required course for all graduate students.

C. Curriculum Development and Other Teaching related Activities

1. History 389.72/English 389.72: Rhetoric and the Historical Imagination

            In cooperation with Catherine Peaden of English, I developed an experimental, multi-disciplinary, team-taught course, "Rhetoric and the Historical Imagination" (History 389.72/English 389.72).  This speaking-, reading-, and writing-intensive course exposes students to the ongoing intellectual debates in the fields of History and English brought about in part by the recent  focus on language and rhetoric in relation to historical narratives in both fields.  The central feature of this course is a student-organized conference at the end of the course.  Students are encouraged to develop a final research paper making use of cross-disciplinary research.  The papers presented at the conference are directed toward a professional audience other than the course instructors.  Students enthusiasm was mirrored in the participation in the Conference Organizing Committee and presentation of papers at the conference, which regularly includes students and faculty from other departments and universities.  Some of the papers presented at the conferences in previous years were later presented at professional gatherings.  A few students submitted their papers for publication.  After three successful student conferences, I have made it a component of all my upper level courses.  In addition to Professor Catherine Peaden, I have taught this course with Dr. Dana Harrington and Dr. Anne Rosenthal.

2. Students Assessment of History and English 389.72

            Students have been overwhelmingly positive about "Rhetoric and the Historical Imagination."  Commenting on the interactive and inquiry-based structure of this course, a student wrote: "This course gave me a very high level of understanding of historiography.  My other professors have highly complemented the reflections of historiography in my analysis of histories.  Other students come to me for advice on their writing after hearing my oral presentations in my history classes.  I have had a chance to disagree and voice my own opinion.  This method of teaching has helped me to develop my own style, unique, but professional.  We read a wide variety of authors and theories.  The packet was a brilliant combination of historiographers"  (see Appendix 38.1). Another class member noted, "I must say that this was one of the best courses I have taken in my three years of graduate school at ISU.  This class presented a real multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural learning experience in terms of students ? and teachers, a goal often talked about but rarely seen" (see Appendix 38.2). Evaluating the course another student concluded, "This class is a landmark of my intellectual progress" (Appendix 38.3)

3. Independent Studies, Theses, and Dissertations

In addition to my regular teaching, I have directed independent studies with students interested in pursuing specialized research. I have also served on M.A. and D.A. theses committees and supervised in course honor students.  The list of students that I have assisted in these areas is as follows:

Independnt Studies

Barry Binder                                                   Fall 1995

Melisa Monroe                                                Fall 1995

Taher Sandhu                                                  Fall 1995

Sara Powell                                                     Fall 1995

Issam Nassar                                                   Summer 1995

Lea Wood                                                       Summer 1995

Roland Kirkwood                                            Fall 1994

Hossein Birjandi                                             Summer 1994

Isam Nassar                                                    Spring 1994

Todd A. Culp                                                  Fall 1993

Vssilios Damiras                                             Summer 1992

Adel Al-Bataineh                                             Summer 1992

Nancy L. Lutgens                                            Summer 1992

Ellen Odum                                                     Summer 1992

Ann J. Hemming                                             Fall 1991?

Cary Lockwood                                               Fall 1991

Kathleen Steinke                                             Fall 1991

Philip Lee McCall                                           Fall 1991

Ali Gaza                                                          Fall 1991

Shickre Andrew Sabbagah                              Summer 1990

Ali M. Gazah                                                   Summer  1990

Anthony James Walesby                                 Fall 1990

In-Course Honors

Sara Powell                                                     History 272                             Spring 1994

Gregory Mathew Adkins                                 History 272                             Spring 1991

Michael Starasta                                              History 126                             Fall1990


Tahir Sandhu, "Postmodernism: Inter-National/Inter-Closet Relations."

Suzanne Abouchahine, "UN Peacekeeking in Southern Lebanon."

Linda Smith, "Dialogues Between Europe and Safavid Persia."

Ali M. Gazah, "Stability of Saudi Arabian Regime."

Ann Hemming, "Victorian Women Travellers to the Middle East."

Adnan Kayal, "Syrian and Iraqi Ba‘th Parties."

Nadja Sadeghian, "The Political Economy of Agrarian Reform in Iran."

Tod Culp, "Political Islam: From the Muslim Brotherhood to Hamas."


Gary McKiddy, "Life in Modern Arabian Heartland: A Primer for Teacher."

            In addition I am serving as adsivor to D.A. students John Zeigler, Housain Birjandi, Issam Nassar, and Ann Hemming.

D. Future Goals

            Every semester I interview my students and solicit their criticism of my teaching.  I have utilized student feedback to restructure my courses and to improve my teaching. I have been educating myself about instructional technology and developed one of the first faculty homepages at Illinois State University. I am currently restructuring my homepage and intend to develop extensive on-line reading materials for my students and my colleagues in Middle Eastern Studies.  These will include electronic editions of highly rare Persian newspapers and journals.  To enhance the quality of education in History 203, "Nations and Narration," I am compiling a library of national symbols, icons, banners, archaeological sites, works of art, newspapers, photographs and maps, as well as records of national anthems, that will be available to students on my homepage. I seek to provide my students with a better education and prepare them for a productive life in a global and multicultural world community.

copyright 2004 Mohamad Tavakoli Targhi