01:685:100 Introduction to the Modern Middle East – Synopsis (3 credits)

Pre-requisites: None

Course Description

This is the foundational course for Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University. The course introduces students to Middle East Studies as an interdisciplinary academic field. Throughout the semester, we study key debates, events, and literature in several of the disciplines that constitute the field. Three major “modules” comprise the course but history is a defining discipline. The first module introduces Middle East Studies as a professional academic field in Euro-American universities by focusing on the relationship between power and knowledge. The second module explores major debates in the field from the vantage point of three major disciplines - History, Political Science, and Anthropology – as well as the key interdisciplinary framework of Political Economy. The third module provides a curated overview of major events, ideologies, and encounters that continue to shape the Modern Middle East: colonialism, nationalism, war, the nation-state system, and political Islam.

Introduction to the Modern Middle East is an intensive undergraduate level course meeting Core Curriculum learning goals and requiring 25-35 pages per session. The classes are a mixture of lectures and discussions. Students are expected to come to classes having prepared the reading(s) for the day and ready to discuss them in detail.

Course Learning Goals

At the end of the course, students will obtain the following goals:
- learn about the field of Middle East Studies and its genesis;
- gain a better understanding of the modern Middle East and its relationship to Euro-American society and academia;
- develop the skills necessary to identify and critically engage with major themes and theories in contemporary scholarship centered on the Middle East

This course is certified for the Core Curriculum and meets the following learning goals:

• 21st Century Challenges [21C]

  • Analyze the degree to which forms of human difference shape a person's experiences of and perspectives on the world.
  • Analyze a contemporary global issue from a multidisciplinary perspective.

• Areas of Inquiry: Social and Historical Analysis [SCL & HST]

  • Understand the bases and development of human and societal endeavors across time and place.
  • Explain the development of some aspect of a society or culture over time, including the history of ideas or history of science.
  • Understand different theories about human culture, social identity, economic entities, political systems, and other forms of social organization.

• Areas of Inquiry: Arts and Humanities [AH]

  • Examine critically philosophical and other theoretical issues concerning the nature of reality, human experience, knowledge, value, and/or cultural production.


*This course is cross-listed with 01:563:100. Credit will not be given for both courses.

Texts required to be purchased:

James Gelvin. The Modern Middle East: A History. Oxford University Press, 2016
Sinan Antoon. The Corpse Washer. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2013

Additional Texts:

Further required readings for the class have been placed on Canvas.


Response Paper Due at End of Module 1  10%
Class Participation and Group Work  10%
Book Review [or Map Quiz and Response Paper 2]  20%
Mid-term Exam  25%
Final Exam  35%