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Curriculum



Thirty credits of graduate study are required for the degree, including 3 credits of thesis writing.
The core curriculum consists of two 3-credit courses required for all MA students: Approaches to the Study of the Middle East, which introduces students to methods and sources for studying the Middle East and History of the Modern Middle East.

COURSES

MES 71000 – Approaches to the Study of the Middle East (3 credits)
This course introduces students to major themes in the field of modern Middle East Studies in a range of disciplines, including anthropology, art history, comparative literature, economics, history, political science, and sociology. The purpose of the course is to outline the making of the field, with emphasis on the material used to study the region, and to examine the wide-ranging trends that have informed scholars and students alike. This course seeks to broaden students’ perspectives beyond their discipline and/or their country of specialization, and to acquaint them with the sources, methods, and debates that make up the field of Middle East Studies.

MES 72000: Middle Eastern Anthropology (3 credits)
This survey course introduces students to the main themes and issues in Anthropological scholarship on the Middle East. Students will be exposed to the central theoretical and conceptual debates as well as methodology (ethnography, interviews, archives, etc.).

MES 72900 – Topics in Middle Eastern Anthropology (3 credits)
This course will focus on specific topics in the Anthropology of Middle East, including media, the arts, food, diaspora, political-economy, oil in the Persian Gulf, religion, the law, and gender and sexuality. Central issues and theoretical debates pertaining to the topic will be discussed.

MES 73000 – History of the Modern Middle East (3 credits)
This course introduces students to major developments and problems in the history and historiography of the Middle East since the nineteenth century, seeking to foster critical historical thinking about these issues. Topics and themes to be discussed throughout the course include integration into the world economy; bureaucratic reforms and their effects; transformations in the power and roles of states; the workings and impacts of colonialism; class formation and the expansion of public spheres; politics and cultures of nationalism; modernity/modernities; sectarianism and sectarian violence; the origins and dynamics of the Arab-Israeli conflict; oil and international relations; Islamist politics; and the study of women and gender in modern Middle Eastern history.

MES 73500 – Topics in Ottoman History (3 credits)
This topics course covers the Ottoman Empire from its rise to its fall or focuses on a single century (e.g., the long nineteenth century), a region within in the Ottoman world (e.g., Anatolia and Arab Lands) or particular issue such as the military endeavors and role/legacy of the military in state/empire building and imperial identity; politico-administrative evolution and roles of the elites; relations of center (Istanbul) with periphery (Anatolia, the Balkans, the Arab Lands); economic development (regional/empire-wide and within the world economy); social transformation and cultural developments; rise of nationalism and communitarian relations; imperialism and religion; notions of success and notion of decline and the Ottoman legacy.

MES 73900 – Topics in Middle Eastern/Islamic History (3 credits)
In this course, students investigate the main currents and critical events in Middle Eastern/Islamic history. These include the categorical framing of the region in political and cultural thought; political, economic, social and ideological change; state and economic formation; interactions with outside forces, their international consequences and significance. Emphasis in class meetings is placed on published primary documents in translation and the preparation of an analytical research paper synthesizing current scholarly literature.

MES 74000 – Politics of the Middle East (3 credits)
This course provides graduate students with an introduction to the contemporary politics of the Middle East region, taken to comprise the Arab states of the Fertile Crescent and Persian Gulf, Iran, and Israel, with a particular focus on the region’s international relations. Rather than attempt to comprehensively cover all the issues in Middle East politics in one semester, it focuses on a few of the most important issues—the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Islamism, the Iranian Revolution, and the challenges of political democratization and economic development.

MES 74500 – The Arab-Israeli Conflict (3 credits)
This course provides students with an in-depth analysis of the history, politics, and diplomacy of the Arab-Israeli conflict. By examining the origins of the conflict, its development over time, the key events that have shaped it, and the various actors involved, students will gain a greater appreciation for the complexities and dynamism of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The course covers the conflict from the emergence of Zionism and Arab-Palestinian nationalism up to the present day. Although the course examines the entire Arab-Israeli conflict, particular emphasis will be given to the Israeli-Palestinian dimension of the conflict.

MES 74900 – Topics in Middle Eastern Politics (3 credits)
This course will focus on specific topics or regions in Middle Eastern Politics, for example, Human Rights in Comparative Perspective or North Africa or the Persian Gulf. The course could also focus on specific issues.

MES 75000 – Sociology of the Middle East (3 credits)
This survey course introduces students to the main themes and issues of sociological scholarship on the Middle East, including the social structure of various countries in the region; political economy, modernization and development; forms of social stratification, such as class, race and gender, the status of minority and marginal populations, such as women and ethnic and religious minorities; and forms of social solidarity and cohesion, such as familial and tribal relations. The course exposes the students to the central theoretical and conceptual debates as well as quantitative and qualitative methodology.

MES 75900 – Topics in Middle Eastern Sociology (3 credits)
This course focuses on specific topics in the Sociology of Middle East such as migration and diaspora, ethnic-religious groups, gender and sexuality, social theory and Islam or a country or a sub-region (e.g., North Africa or the Gulf). The course utilizes different social theories to tackle central issues in the topic and allow students to study pertinent current debates and issues (e.g., the Arab Spring).

MES 76001 and MES 76002 – Advanced Arabic (3 credits w/ permission of instructor)
This course aims to help students achieve an advanced level of proficiency in reading, writing and speaking Arabic. The course is conducted entirely in Arabic, students read modern Arabic texts with the help of the dictionary. Learning goals include: Comprehending media in Modern Standard Arabic (e.g., al-Jazeera); writing short letters and somewhat complex essays; and conversing with a native speaker about daily needs.

MES 76500 – Arabic Text Readings (3 credits with permission of instructor)
This course prepares students to read and comprehend Arabic printed texts from the 19th and 20th centuries on a variety of topics. In addition to translating texts, students are guided to contextualize the readings in the social and historical period and region. Students will read archival and contemporary documents in Arabic.

MES 76900 – Topics in Arabic Literature and Culture (3 credits)
This topics course examines the literary culture of a particular period and region such as the literature of medieval Iberian Peninsula and North Africa or contemporary Arab novels in translation or Arab cinema. For a course on Al-Andalus, for example, students read and discuss important examples of Arabic, Hebrew, and Latinate literary culture and examine their interactions. For Arab Cinema, students examine the relationship between the development of cinema in Egypt and elsewhere and the region’s colonial and post-colonial struggles. Additionally, students focus on the role of melodrama, the importance of music and dance, the phenomenon of co-production, and the treatment of gender and sexuality. These courses are taught entirely in English. No knowledge of Arabic is necessary.

MES 77000 – Internship (150 hours/3 credits with permission of the MA-MES Director)
This course enables students to gain practical and professional experience by working in an organization or institution that caters to Middle Easterners, such as social justice/human rights agencies, ecumenical associations, charitable and educational foundations, business and media or covers the Middle East. The main objectives of the internship are to offer the student an opportunity to apply principles learned in the classroom. An internship should provide the student with hands-on experience and a good sense of what an actual job in the organization will be like. The student should be able to relate the internship experience to the knowledge that he or she has gained through the Master’s program in Middle Eastern Studies. For this three-credit course, placements should involve between 12 and 15 hours per week (a minimum of 150 hours per semester). Consultation with the Director of the MA-MES program is required before accepting an internship position.

The internship provides students the opportunity to develop specific skills or improvements in their current skill set. The internship prepares them for employment and builds their network. Assessment is based on the site supervisor’s assessment and a “report paper,” this course is taken for Pass/fail only. Within a week of beginning an internship position the student and the Director of MA-MES must consult to produce a written job description from the agency or person supervising the internship. The job must be intellectually rewarding and directly connected to Middle Eastern and/or Middle Eastern diaspora issues. This involves defining the academic focus of the internship. Students must have answers to the following: What can be learned on this job? What outside reading will be helpful to help understand the political processes involved in the job? What sort of information can be gathered while on the job? What sort of paper will be appropriate to write?

Throughout the internship, students will be required to keep a log of activities and observations. This log may serve as the basis for reports to the advisor, for insights about the process, and/or as a place to record new data. If the intern placement is out of town, consultation can be by phone, e-mail or letter. It is the student’s responsibility to initiate consultations. Before the end of the term the student intern must see that her or his job supervisor sends the MA-MES program a brief evaluation of the intern’s performance and activities. On-site Supervisors are responsible for provide a meaningful setting in which the student is able to utilize academic work in an applied setting. The assigned work must permit the student to become familiar with the agency, staff, and clientele. On-site Supervisors are requested to provide a written evaluation at the end of the internship to MA-MES.

MES 78000 – Special Topics in Middle Eastern Studies (3 credits)
This course will focus on specific topics in Middle East Studies, for example, Contemporary Arts (or Music) in the Middle East and its Diaspora. The course will utilize different social theories to tackle central issues in the topic and allow students to explore pertinent current debates and issues.

MES 79000 – Thesis Writing (3 credits)
Students choose one original research paper from an MA-MES course for revision and expansion into a circa 40-page thesis. Students must get the permission in writing (via email) from the faculty member who originally read the paper in a course. He/she will be the Advisor, the person responsible for the substantive content of the thesis. MES 79000 meets bi-weekly throughout the year; students are required to participate in the seminar for two semesters prior to filing. That is, students intending to file in the fall should start attending the seminar in the spring; students intending to file in the spring should start attending the seminar in the fall. In this seminar, students discuss research and writing problems, present work in progress, and review formatting and filing procedures. The faculty member running MES 79000: Thesis Writing Seminar will be the Second Reader. If he/she is already your advisor, then the Curriculum Committee will assign the student a Second Reader.

MES 79700 – Independent Study (1-4 credits w/ permission of Director & Instructor)
Students seeking specialized knowledge for their professional goals may enroll in an independent study.