Fall 2014 MESAAS Courses


This information is subject to change. For the most up-to-date information, please visit the Registrar's Directory of Classes.

Note that enrollment in language courses is determined in some cases by placement examinations. See Languages for details, and consult the pages on specific languages, such as Arabic for further information. Language courses must be taken for a letter grade. Pass/Fail or Registration credit (R) is not permitted.

For course requirements, see the pages on the Graduate and Undergraduate programs.

Course Numbering System

  • 1000 and 2000: Undergraduate-level courses. Introductory and intermediate language courses are numbered at the 1000 level.
  • 3000: Advanced undergraduate courses.
  • 4000: Courses for graduate students and, in some cases, advanced undergraduates.
  • 6000 and higher: Graduate-level courses; some 8000- and 9000-level courses are reserved for Ph.D. students only.

The following course designators appear in abbreviated form:

  • MDES (Designator for all MESAAS courses that are not cross listed)
  • AHUM (Asian Humanities)
  • ASCM (Asian Civilizations-MESAAS)
  • CLME (Comparative Literature-MESAAS)
  • HSME (History-MESAAS)
  • ANME (Anthropology-MESAAS)

NONLANGUAGE COURSES


INTRO TO ISLAMIC CIVILIZATIONASCM V2003
Professor George Saliba Section 001

Islamic civilization and its characteristic political, social, and religious institutions and intellectual traditions.

MAJOR DEBATES IN THE STUDY OF AFRICAMDES W2030
Professor Mahmood Mamdani Section 001

This course will focus on key debates that have shaped the study of Africa in the postcolonial African academy. We will cover six key debates (a) history before external impact; (b) agency and responsibility in different kinds of slave trade; (c) State Formation (conquest, slavery, colonialism); (d) underdevelopment (colonialism and globalization); (e) nationalism and the anti-colonial struggle; (f) pan-Africanism and globalization. The approach will be multidisciplinary and readings will be illustrative of different sides in the debate.

THEORY AND CULTUREMDES W3000
Professor Gil Anidjar Section 001

Required of all majors. Introduces theories of culture particularly related to the Middle East, South Asia. and Africa. Theoretical debates on the nature and function of culture as a symbolic reading of human collectivities. Examines critical cultural studies of the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa. Enables students to articulate their emerging knowledge of Middle East, South Asian, and African cultures in a theoretically informed language.

MAJOR TEXTS: MIDDLES EAST/INDIAAHUM V3399
Rachel McDermott, Professor Wael Hallaq, Professor Sheldon Pollock Section 001

Readings in translation and discussion of texts of Middle Eastern and Indian origin. Readings include the Qur'an, Islamic philosophy, Sufi poetry, the Upanishads, Buddhist sutras, the Bhagavad Gita, Indian epics and drama, and Gandhi's Autobiography.

SOCIETIES AND CULTURES ACROSS THE INDIAN OCEANMDES W3445
Professor Mana Kia Section 001

The course is designed to introduce the Indian ocean as a region linking the Middle East, East Africa, South and Southeast Asia. With a focus on both continuities and rupture, we study select cultures and societies brought into contact through interregional migration and travel across the Indian Ocean over a broad arc of history. Different types of people - nobles, merchants, soldiers, statesmen, sailors, scholars, slaves - experienced mobility in different ways. How did different groups of people represent such mobilities? What kinds of cooperation, accommodation or conflict did different Indian Ocean encounters engender? Using an array of different primary sources, we look at particular case studies and their broader social and cultural contexts.

INTRO TO ISRAELI LITERATUREMDES 3542
Professor Dan Miron Section 001

The course will survey the development of Israeli Literature within three time sections and along the evolving process of its three main genres. The time sections are those a) the birth of Israeli literature in the aftermath of the 1948 War (the 1950s); b)the maturation of Israeli literature during the 1960s and 1970s; c) Israeli Literature in the era of the peace process and the Intifadas (1980s and 1990s). The genres are those of lyrical poetry, prose fiction (mainly novels), and drama. The course will also follow the crystallization of three sets of Israeli poetics: the conservative (realistic) one, the modernist, and the post-modernist ones. All texts will be available in English translations. Participation does not depend on former knowledge of Hebrew or Israeli literature.

CONTEMPORARY CULTURE IN THE ARAB WORLDMDES W3920
Professor Joseph A Massad Section 001

This seminar, designed for seniors, aims to acquaint students with the notion and theoretical understanding of culture and to introduce them to a critical method by which they can study and appreciate contemporary culture in the Arab World.

ARABIC PRISON WRITINGMDES 3928
Professor Muhsin Al-Musawi Section 001

This course studies the genealogy of the prison in Arab culture as manifested in memoirs, narratives, and poems. These cut across a vast temporal and spatial swathe, covering selections from the Quran, Sufi narratives from al-Halllaj oeuvre, poetry by prisoners of war: classical, medieval, and modern. It also studies modern narratives by women prisoners and political prisoners, and narratives that engage with these issues. Arabic prison writing is studied against other genealogies of this prism, especially in the West, to map out the birth of prison, its institutionalization, mechanism, and role. All readings for the course are in English translations.

HONORS THESIS SEMINARMDES W3960
Professor Kai Kresse Section 001

This is a one-year course that begins in the fall semester (1 point) and continues through the spring semester (3 points). Only students who have completed both semesters will receive the full 4 points of credit. Prerequisites: Minimum GPA of 3.5 in MESAAS courses. The MESAAS honors seminar offers students the opportunity to undertake a sustained research project under close faculty supervision. The DUS advises on general issues of project design, format, approach, general research methodologies, and timetable. In addition, students work with an individual advisor who has expertise in the area of the thesis and can advise on the specifics of method and content. The thesis will be jointly evaluated by the adviser, the DUS, and the honors thesis TA. The DUS will lead students through a variety of exercises that are directly geared to facilitating the thesis. Students build their research, interpretive, and writing skills; discuss methodological approaches; write an annotated bibliography; learn to give constructive feedback to peers and respond to feedback effectively. The final product is a polished research paper in the range of 40-60 pages.

THEORY AND METHODSMDES G4000
Professor Sudipta Kaviraj Section 001

Prerequisites: Instructor's permission. Explores recent studies on the Middle East with explicitly stated theoretical orientations that may be grouped under three broad catagories of nationalism, discipline, and power and resistance. Methodologies as diverse as comparative method, post-structuralism, narrative, and ethnography are not investigated in the abstract but in the context of rich empirical case studies. This course is restricted to MESAAS graduate students.

ANDALUSIAN SYMBIOSIS: ISLAM IN THE WESTMDES G4233
Professor Muhsin Al-Musawi Section 001

This interdisciplinary team-taught seminar deals with the rich culture of Iberia (present-day Spain and Portugal) during the period when it was an Islamic, mostly Arabic-speaking territory - from the 8th to the 15th century. This theme course is significant in its approach to the study of Andalusia for a number of reasons: it grounds the study of Muslim Spain in the larger context of the history of Islam and of Arabic culture outside of Spain; it embraces many aspects of the hybrid Andalusian legacy: history, language, literature, philosophy, music, art, architecture, and sciences, among others; and, while the course includes materials from Christian writers, the textual materials focus more on Arabic writings and the viewpoint of Muslim Spaniards. The course closely examines the cultural symbiosis between Arab Muslims and Christian Europeans during the eight centuries of their coexistence in Andalusia. Through a critical reading of an appropriately chosen set of texts translated into English from Arabic, Latin, Spanish, and other Iberian dialects, students will study the historical, literary, linguistic, religious, artistic, architectural, and technological products that were created by the remarkable symbiosis that took place in Andalusia. With its multiethnic and multilingual forms, the Andalusian legacy bears direct resemblance to our contemporary multicultural world and provides students with a rare opportunity to integrate knowledge of different sources and viewpoints. In the first and final weeks, we compare how two contemporary historical novels, by Arab writer Radwa Ashour and Tariq Ali (of Pakistani extraction), treat the fall of Granada in 1492. Class discussion and readings in English.

ORIGINS OF ARMENIAN ART: CREATING AN IDENTITYMDES G4347
Professor Helen Evans Section 001

Working with objects in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the Medieval Department’s offices, the course will be an interdisciplinary exploration of the creation of a sense of self-identity for the Armenian people through visual media and material culture. Coins, manuscript illuminations, stone carvings, ceramics, textiles and other media will be studied to determine the means by which the Armenian people at the level of elite and popular culture identified themselves and positioned themselves in relation to neighboring, or dominating, cultures. Relevant works from other cultures in the Museum’s encyclopedic collections will be used for comparative study. Students will do a paper on an Armenian work selected from the Museum’s collection and present an aspect of their research in class. Hands on experience with the Museum’s works of art will allow consideration of means of manufacture as well as style and iconography.

READINGS IN HINDI LITERATURE IMDES W4610
Professor Allison Busch Section 001

Prerequisites: MDES W1613 or the instructor's permission. The course introduces students to the riches of the classical Hindi tradition. We read bhakti and Sufi literature in tandem, with a special interest in Tulsidas and the Indo-Islamic romance. (Since the content changes each term, the course may be repeated for credit.)

READINGS IN URDU LITERATURE IMDES W4635
Professor Aftab Ahmad Section 001

Prerequisites: MDES W1613 or the instructor's permission. Conducted largely in Urdu. Includes reading and discussion of selected literary, social science, historical, and/or journalistic texts. Since the content changes each term, the course may be repeated for credit. Web Site CourseWorks

A HISTORY OF MODERN PAKISTANMDES W4653
Professor Akbar Zaidi Section 001

This course is designed for undergraduate students to be a survey course of modern Pakistani history from 1947 to the present. The course will examine the six "eras" that help define Pakistan's history, and will highlight political, economic and institutional developments. The completion of this course should prepare students for further and more advanced work on South Asia.

EPICS AND EMPIRESMDES G4721
Professor Hamid Dabashi Section 001

The purpose of this course is an examination of the genre of epic and its narrative connection to empire-building. The primary text that will be used in this critical examination is the Persian epic poem Shahnameh, composed by Abolqasem Ferdowsi circa 1000 CE.

MODERN AND MEDIEVAL ISLAMIC POLITICAL THOUGHTCLME G4764
Professor Hamid Dabashi Section 001

This course is a comparative examination of modern and medieval Islamic political thoughts. The seminar begins with the roots of Islamic political thoughts in the early Islamic history, as well as in the Qur’anic revelations and Prophetic Hadith traditions. We will then divide the course into two major component: medieval and modern, with the rise of European colonialism in the late 18th and early 19th century as the principal catalyst of groundbreaking changes in Islamic political thoughts.

RESEARCH COLLOQUIUMMDES G6008
Professor Allison Busch Section 001

Prerequisites: Required of and restricted to MESAAS students in their second and third year. This course provides a structured setting for stand-alone MA students in their final year and PhD students in their second and third years to develop their research trajectories in a way that complements normal coursework. The seminar meets approximately biweekly and focuses on topics such as research methodology; project design; literature review, including bibliographies and citation practices; grant writing.

NATIONALISM IN THE MIDDLE EAST AS IDEA AND PRACTICEMDES G6031
Professor Joseph Massad Section 001

Prerequisites: Instructor permission for all undergraduate students. Instructor: Joseph Massad. Intends to familiarize students with the most recent theories dealing with nationalism from a variety of angles and perspectives.

READINGS IN CLASSICAL ARABIC MDES G6210
Professor George Saliba Section 001

Readings and analysis of texts, with discussion of the nature and development of the genres within the context of Islamic thought. One genre covered each term.

READINGS IN MODERN ISLAMIC TEXTSMDES G6235
Professor Wael Hallaq Section 001

Prerequisites: Proficiency in reading advanced Arabic. This seminar is conducted entirely in the original Arabic writings of the Moroccan philosopher Taha Abdurrahman. Having recently emerged as the premier moral philosopher of the Muslim world, Abdurrahman requires an attentive reading in light of the intellectual, historical and cultural constructions of the modern Islamic world, on the one hand, and Western moral and political conceptions, on the other. The seminar attempts to assess Abdurrahman’s critique of modernity as one that integrates the intellectual productions of Islamic history as serious contributions to modernity’s critiques currently placed on Western academic tables. On a wider scale, and through an examination of this philosopher’s work, this seminar also aims to bring the modern Islamic tradition into dialogue with the relevant questions and debates now animating modern moral philosophy (and to a lesser extent political theory, law and philosophy at large).

MODERN STATE AND THE COLONIAL SUBJECTANTH G6406
Professor Mahmood Mamdani Section 001

 

DYNAMICS OF ISRAELI CULTURECLME G6530
Professor Dan Miron Section 001

The course will survey the development of Israeli Literature within three time sections and along the evolving process of its three main genres. The time sections are those a) the birth of Israeli literature in the aftermath of the 1948 War (the 1950s); b)the maturation of Israeli literature during the 1960s and 1970s; c) Israeli Literature in the era of the peace process and the Intifadas (1980s and 1990s). The genres are those of lyrical poetry, prose fiction (mainly novels), and drama. The course will also follow the crystallization of three sets of Israeli poetics: the conservative (realistic) one, the modernist, and the post-modernist ones. All texts will be available in English translations. Participation does not depend on former knowledge of Hebrew or Israeli literature.

DISSERTATION COLLOQUIUMMDES G8008
Professor Timothy Mitchell Section 001