Histories and Cultures of the Middle East
Spring 2000
Course Description:
This course offers a basic orientation to the foundational myths, key concepts, and diverse linguistic, ethnic, religious, and intellectual traditions of the Middle East. It investigates the competing creation stories and reflects on the similarities between the Judeo-Christian-Islamic religious traditions and their world historical imaginations. Familiarized with the basic methods of historical analysis, students study race, slavery, gender, and modernity in Middle Eastern and Islamic history and evaluate Islam’s contribution to the world history and civilization. This course enables students to reflect critically on the popular view of Islam and the Middle East as static monoliths and as exotic others of the West.

Course Requirements:
The final course grade will be determined on the basis of Class Attendance and Discussions (20%), Position Papers and Responses (30%), Global Review and Seminar Series (10%), Final Synopsis (20%), Course Summary and Evaluation (0.0%).

1. Class Attendance: You are expected to attend all the lectures and discussions. Lectures will frequently include materials not covered in the assigned readings and for which you are responsible. Every student enrolled in the course must prepare carefully for class and participate in on-line and class discussions. All required and recommended readings are listed in the attached course outline and are available in the Reserve Room of the Milner Library. You are urged to complete the assigned reading prior to the class session at which they will be introduced. During each class session we participate in an in-depth discussion of the issues and problems raised in lectures, readings, and on-line debates. Students who miss more than four class sessions may not pass this course.

2. Thought Questions/Position Papers:
To facilitate discussion, and to allow me to gauge students’ participation regardless of her/his personal assertiveness, you are required to write a total of 10 one-page, single-spaced position papers. Your thought papers should be made available to other students via hist126@scribe.cmp.ilstu.edu 24 hours prior to the class meetings. Your position papers should identify important events and arguments and raise significant question concerning the readings, lectures, or critical events in the Middle East.

In addition you are required to respond to at least 10 position papers written by your peers. Your correspondence should be spaced evenly over the course of the semester. On-line discussions must be cordial, informative, and reflective.

3. Global Review and Seminar Series:
Because one of the goals of this course is to expand students understanding of the Middle East in a world historical context, each student will be asked to attend at least four class related public events. There are two Middle East related weekly lecture series on campus. Global Review meets every Thursday, 7:00 p.m. The meetings of South and South West-Asian Studies Seminar series will be announced later. Please send me a brief summary/analysis of the lectures you attend.

4. Course Evaluation:
You will be required to write a critique the course, the instructor, the teaching assistant, and the way the course has been carried out. I would sincerely appreciate your specific comments, both positive and negative, as well as your recommendations for improvement. Although I will not read the evaluations until after I’ve calculated the grades, these evaluations are a requirement of the course and are due no later than December 7.

5. Final Synopsis:
Each student is required to write one 15-page computer generated synopsis of central points covered in lectures and in the assigned readings (including historical figures, institutions, concepts, and dates). Most lectures will be accompanied by a handout outlining main points in the lectures and a list of important names and terms. These lists provide a convenient outline for writing your report. You are instructed to use personal computers for all assignments. If you are not familiar with personal computers, you are encouraged to attend a computer training workshop. Synopsis is due on April 27. Late papers will not be accepted!

6. Self-Evaluation:
You are required to turn in a statement evaluating your work along with the grade that you think is appropriate. Your self-evaluation must be submitted no later than December 6. This type-written statement should include the following:

  • the goals you set for yourself in the course;
  • the criteria by which you are judging your work;
  • a description of the way in which you have achieved your goals;
  • the grade you think appropriately rates your performance.

7. Writing Portfolio:
Every student is required to submit a portfolio which includes all class assignments and on-line discussions, synopsis, position papers, self-evaluation, course evaluation, extra credit works, and your rewrites. The portfolio is due no later than December 6.

Required Readings:

Richard Eaton, Islamic History a Global History (Washington, D.C., American Historical Association, 1990).

Judith Tucker, Gender and Islamic History (Washington, D.C., American Historical Association, 1993).

The Course Packet (readings marked by *).


Lecture and Reading Schedule for History 126

Week 1: Re-Orient-ation

Jan. 20
(Maps of the Middle East)

(Maps of Asia)

(Encyclopedia of the Middle East)



Week 2: Origins

Jan 27
Marshal G.S. Hodgson, "In the Center of the Map: Nations See Themselves as the Hub of History," in Rethinking World History, ed. Edmund Burke (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 29-34 [001-004].

Ira Lapidius, "The Origins of Islamic Civilization: The Middle East From c. 600 to c. 1200," in A History of Islamic Societies (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 3-20 [045-054].

The Arab Net


Week 3: Muhammad and the Qur’an

Feb. 3
Annemarie Schimmel, "The Koran and Its Teachings," in Islam: An Introduction (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992), 29-50 [072-083].

Ira Lapidius, "The Origins of Islamic Civilization," 21-36 [054-062].

"The Exordium," "The Night Journey," "The Poets," The Pen," and "The Blood Clots," in The Koran [005-019].

"Abraham," Mary," "The Prophets," "The Story," "Noah," and "Those that Are Sent Forth," in The Koran [084-103].

*Ibn Hisham, "The Night Journey and the Ascent to Heaven," in The Life of Muhammad, 181-187 [040-043].




Week 4: The Muslim Community in History

Feb. 10
Lapidius, "The Caliphate," in A History of Islamic Societies, 54-80 [104-117].
Esposito, Islam: The Straight Path, 34-68. http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/... http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~rs143/map1.jpg http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~rs143/mexpan.jpg http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~rs143/map1.jpg


Week 5: Islamicate Persia

Feb. 17
David Morgan, Medieval Persia, 1040-1797 (New York: Longman, 1988), 8-100
[118-164]. http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~rs143/map4.jpg


Week 6: The Ottoman, The Safavids, and the Monghuls

Feb. 24
Albert Hourani, "The Ottoman Age," in A History of the Arab People (Cambridge:Harvard University Press, 1991), 207-248 [166-187].
Ira Lapidus, "The Indian Subcontinent" in A History of Islamic Societies, 437-466 [226-239]. Morgan, Medieval Persia, 101-151 [188-213].
http://www.friesian.com/turkia.htm http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~rs143/ottoma.jpg http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~rs143/ottosul.jpg
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~rs143/timurid.jpg http://www.students.cs.ruu.nl/...

(Album of Arabic and Ottoman Art)

Week 7: Islamic History as Global History

Mar 2
Muslims in Spain
(38 min., color, #Wn173) Richard Eaton, Islamic History as Global History (Washington, D.C.: American Historical Association, 1990), 1-end. Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah, trans. Franz Rosenthal (Princeton:Princeton University Press, 1969), 123-175 [255-283]. David Ayalon, "Ibn Khaldun’s Views of the Mamluk Phenomenon," in Outsiders in the Lands of Islam: Mamluks, Mongols and Eunuchs (London:Variorum Reprints, 1988), 340-349 [284-288].
(Map of the Muslim World c.A.D. 1300) (Map of the Muslim World c.A.D. 1500)


Week 8: Women and Islam
Mar. 9 "Women and Islam" (30 min., color, #VY5172). "March 8, 1779 Women’s Demonstration" Judith Tucker, Gender and Islamic History (Washington, D.C.: American Historical Association, 1993), v-37.


Week 9 Spring Break

Week 10: The Others

Mar. 23
Farid al-Dian Attar, "The Story of Sheikh Sam’an," in The Conference of the Birds, trans. Afkham Darbandi and Dick Davis (New York: Penguin, 1984) 57-74
Al-Mas‘udi, "Neighbors in the North," in Islam from the Prophet Muhammad to the Capture of Constantinople, ed. and trans. Bernard Lewis (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987) 122 [316].

Al-Qazwini, "Neighbors in the West," in Islam from the Prophet Muhammad to the Capture of Constantinople, ed. and trans. Bernard Lewis (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987) 122 [316].

Bernard Lewis, "Slavery," 3-15 [289-295]. http://www.fordham.edu/...
"The Man of al-Yaman and His Six Slave-Girls," in Alf Laylah va Laylah, 245-260 [296-303].
Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, "Imagining Western Women: Occidentalism and Euro- Eroticism," Radical America, 24:3 (1992) 73-87 [317-331].

(Oriental Paintings)

Week 11: Colonialism and Nationalism

Mar. 30
Carl Brown, International Politics and the Middle East (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), 1-63.

Week 13: Refashioning the Middle East

Apr. 6 Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, "Refashioning Iran: Language and Culture During the Constitutional Revolution" Iranian Studies 23: 1-4 (1990), 77-101 [370-382].

Berkes, "Historical Background of Turkish Secularism," in Islam and the West, ed. Richard Frye (The Hague: Mouton & Co., 1956), 41-68.

Week 14: Mother-Nation

Apr. 13
Mohamad Tavakoli, "Matriotic Nationalism," in Vernacular Modernity, 250-297.
Afsaneh Najmabadi, "Veiled Discourse--Unveiled Bodies" Feminist Studies 19:3 (Fall 1993), 487-518 [383-518].


Week 15: The Question of Palestine

Apr. 20
"In the shadow of the West" (film)
Ian Bickerton and Carla Klauser, A Concise History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, ?), 14-35, 86-113, 182-187, 244-266 [415- 425]. Edward Said, The Question of Palestine, [428-461].


Week 15: Islam and Revolution

Apr. 27
The Islamic Revolution
Dale Eickelman and James Piscatori, "The Invention of Tradition in Muslim Politics," in Muslim Politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 199?), 22-45 [342-353]. (Iran Story)

Course summary, self-evaluation, and portfolio due.

Week 16: Re-Visionings

May 4
Knowledge and Power
Course summary, self-evaluation, and portfolio due.


copyright 2004 Mohamad Tavakoli Targhi