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.
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)
|CONTEMPORARY ISLAMIC CIVILIZATION||ASCM V2008|
Lecture and recitation. No previous study of Islam is required. The contemporary Islamic world studied through freshly translated texts; recorded interviews with religious, political, and intellectual leaders; and films highlighting the main artistic and cultural currents. Topics include religion and society, religion and politics, issues of development, theories of government, gender issues, East-West confrontation, theatre, arts, films, poetry, music, and the short novel.
|GANDHI AND HIS INTERLOCUTORS||MDES W2650|
|Sudipta Kaviraj||Section 001|
Gandhi is in two senses an extraordinary figure: he was the most important leader of anti-imperialist movements in the twentieth century; yet, his ideas about modernity, the state, the industrial economy, technology, humanity’s place in nature, the presence of God – were all highly idiosyncratic, sometimes at odds with the main trends of modern civilization. How did a man with such views come to have such an immense effect on history? In some ways, Gandhi is an excellent entry into the complex history of modern India – its contradictions, achievements, failures, possibilities. This course will be primarily a course on social theory, focusing on texts and discursive exchanges between various perceptions of modernity in India. It will have two parts: the first part will be based on reading Gandhi’s own writings; the second, on the writings of his main interlocutors. It is hoped that through these exchanges students will get a vivid picture of the intellectual ferment in modern India, and the main lines of social and political thought that define its intellectual culture. The study in this course can be followed up by taking related courses in Indian political thought, or Indian politics or modern history. This course may not be taken as Pass/D/Fail.
|PALESTINIAN-ISRAELI POLIT/SOC||MDES W3042|
|JOSEPH A MASSAD||Section 001|
The History of the Jewish Enlightenment (Haskala) in 19th century Europe and the development of Zionism through the current "peace process" between the state of Israel and the Arab states and the Palestinian national movement. Provides a historical overview of the Zionist-Palestinian conflict to familiarize undergraduates with the background of the current situation.
|MAJOR TEXTS: MIDDLE EAST/INDIA||AHUM V3399|
|MANA KIA||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.
|THE ENVIR HIST OF THE MID EAST||MDES W3901|
|CASEY PRIMEL||Section 001|
This course explores the emerging field of the environmental history of the Middle East. It offers new perspectives for rethinking the history of the region in ecological terms from the effect of climate change on early modern empires to the centrality of water and hydrocarbons to the colonial and postcolonial transformations of the 19th and 20th centuries. Prior coursework in the history and/or politics of the Middle East is recommended.
|HONORS THESIS SEMINAR||MDES W3960|
|WAEL HALLAQ||Section 001|
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. Please note: 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.
|SCIENCE, RELIGION, POLITICS IN OTTOMAN EMPIRE||MDES W3990|
|KENAN TEKIN||Section 001|
This course investigates continuities and breaks in religious, scientific, and political institutions and discourses during the long history of the Ottoman Empire. It will begin with an overview of of Islamic and Greek intellectual legacies. The course will be divided into three parts focusing on three major periods of Ottoman history: formative, early modern, and modern periods. An important aspect of the course is to consider developments in the Ottoman Empire in connection with the other contemporary societies. Hence, we will situate developments in the Ottoman history within the larger hisotrical changes in Euroasia by reading both primary and secondary sources.
|SIGNIFICANT OTHERS||WMST G4000|
|MANA KIA||Section 001|
What is the relationship between homoeroticism and homosociality? How does this relationship form conceptions of gender and sexuality in ways that might be historically unfamiliar and culturally or regionally specific? We pursue these questions through the lens of friendship and its relationship to ideas and expressions of desire, love, and loyalty in pre-modern times. We begin by considering the intellectual basis of the modern idea of friendship as a private, personal relationship, and trace it back to earlier times when it was often a public relationship of social and political significance. Some of these relationships were between social equals, while some were unequal forms (like patronage) that could bridge social, political or parochial differences.Thinking through the relationships and possible distinctions between erotic love, romantic love and amity (love between friends), we will draw on scholarly works from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, particularly philosophy, sociology, political theory, literature, history, and art history. We will attend to friendship’s work in constituting, maintaining and challenging various social and political orders in a variety of Asian contexts (West, Central, South and East Asian), with reference to scholarship on European contexts. Primary source materials will include philosophy, religious manuals, autobiographies, popular love stories, heroic epics, mystical poetry, mirror for princes, paintings, material objects of exchange, and architectural monuments.
|THEORY AND METHODS II||MDES G4001|
|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.
|CINEMA AND SOC IN ASIA AND AFRICA||CLME G4031|
|HAMID DABASHI||Section 001|
The purpose of this course is to introduce a wide spectrum of students to the rich and diverse cinema of Asia and Africa through a cross-disciplinary approach to visual and performing arts. In this course, students will be exposed to the discipline of Cinema Studies as it is specifically related to the cinema of Asia and Africa. In addition, topical issues that concern these societies will be explored through a close examination of a number of recent and internationally celebrated films. Global Core.
|CINEMATIC CITIES/COMPAR MODERNITIES||CLME G4042|
|Debashree Mukherjee||Section 001|
This graduate seminar explores the representational, imaginative, and analytical connections between cinema and the urban experience. Theories of modernity frequently hold up the city as the most emblematic site for locating the modern (eg. Benjamin, Simmel, Kracaueur). Cinema, too, as art and apparatus, can be said to have embodied the ‘shocks’ of the modern (Singer, Gunning, Eisenstein). This course introduces students to a significant corpus of literature on cinema and mediated urbanisms. By insisting on a comparative approach, the seminar seeks to put existing theories of cinematic urbanisms that pertain to Berlin, Paris, or Los Angeles, into dialogue with ‘other’ cinematic sites such as Mumbai, Algiers, Mexico City, Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur, or Dakar. Open to qualified undergraduates with instructor permission.
|HUMAN RIGHTS: HISTORY, LAW, LITERATURE||MDES G4058|
|Nanor Kebranian||Section 001|
This is an interdisciplinary course introducing students to the historical, juridical, and literary constructions of human rights as concept, practice, and discourse. Coursework is geographically and thematically comparative with readings in history, law, political philosophy, anthropology, criticism, and literature. Students are expected to engage with the following questions: How did ideas about rights emerge and give rise to the juridical development of ‘human rights?’ What kinds of human subjects do rights discourses presuppose and/or produce? What does human rights law achieve, and how? And how, if at all, does literature reveal the human rights’ system’s social, ethical, and political possibilities and limits?
|PAN AFRICANISM||MDES G4154|
|MAMADOU DIOUF||Section 001|
“Pan Africanist” ideologies were very diverse from Garveyism, Negritude to the various African America, Caribbean and African discourses of “neo-pharaohnism” and “Ethiopianism.” This seminar explores how Black leaders, intellectuals, and artists chose to imagine Black (Africans and people of African descent) as a global community from the late 19th century to the present. It examines their attempts to chart a course of race, modernity, and emancipation in unstable and changing geographies of empire, nation, and state. Particular attention will be given to manifestations identified as their common history and destiny and how such a distinctive historical experience has created a unique body of reflections on and cultural productions about modernity, religion, class, gender, and sexuality, in a context of domination and oppression. Qualified undergrads must seek instructor permission.
|ARABIC SELF-NARRATIVES||CLME G4226|
|MUHSIN AL-MUSAWI||Section 001|
This course applies current theories to the study of Arabic literary production. It focuses on forms of the 'sacred' and social critique that have developed over time and gathered momentum in the modern period. Although a number of Arab intellectual interventions are used to substantiate literary production, the primary concern of the discussion is narrative. A base for modern narrative was laid in the tenth century Maqamat of Badi al-Zaman al-Hamadhnai that led in turn to the growth of this phenomenal achievement that set the stage for narratives of contestation, crisis, and critique
|SUFISM: PRIMARY TEXTS/CONTEXTS||CLME G4241|
|Muhsin Al-Musawi||Section 001|
This course studies Sufism as it has emerged, developed, and assumed its presence in Sufi autobiographies and religious and literary writings. The Sufi Path is traced in these writings that include poems like ibn al-Farid’s Poem of the Way. Sufi States and Stations are analyzed to understand this Path that reaches its culmination in an ecstatic sense of Oneness. Sufism is also a social and political phenomenon that unsettles formal theologies and involves Sufis in controversies that often end with their imprisonment and death.
|READINGS IN ARMENIAN TEXTS||MDES W4314|
|Charry Karamanoukian||Section 001|
Prerequisites: MDES W1312 and MDES W1313, Intermediate Armenian or equivalent. Readings in Armenian Texts is the highest-level language course offered by the Armenian Language Program at MEALAC. It is designed for students who have a good foundation of the language or have attained the equivalent of Intermediate level Armenian and wish to perfect their knowledge of grammar while developing their skills in independent reading. The content of the course will change each term. Students will be introduced to a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts in Armenian. Texts will consist of full length short stories and newspaper articles as well as excerpts from lengthier works, all in modern Western Armenian. The emphasis will be on analyzing context, syntax and grammatical structures as clues towards comprehension. In addition to grammar and vocabulary analysis, students will produce translations, brief summaries and commentaries on the texts they read, both orally and in written form. No P/D/F or R credit is allowed for this class.
|OTTOMAN ARMENIAN WOMEN||MDES W4356|
|Melissa Bilal||Section 001|
The objective of this course is to discuss Ottoman Armenian women’s intellectual history in relation to the gender and sexuality discourses of the late Ottoman society. This course also aims to familiarize the students with the debates that have been shaping the Ottoman feminist historiography for the last two decades. The first part of the course has a specific focus on the beginnings of the feminist thought and feminist activism in Europe and the US. It introduces primary texts by feminist writers around the world and offers a historical/theoretical background to understand the main issues of women’s liberation movement(s) in the Ottoman Empire. The second part of the course invites students to develop a critical understanding of Ottoman Armenian modernity from a gendered perspective. It aims to grasp the ways in which Armenian women took part in shaping the gender order of modern Armenian society. It situates this discussion within the transformation of the communal/inter- communal/state-community relationships in the Ottoman Empire and the re-organization of the political sphere. The last part of the class focuses on women’s activism during and in the aftermath of the Genocide.
|SOUNDING ISLAM||MUSI G4425|
|Alessandra M Ciucci||Section 001|
The objective of this course is to explore the relationship between sound, music and Islam and, in doing so, to focus on a philosophy of listening (sama‘) which is deeply embedded in the experiential. The course aims to analyze how sound and music directly or indirectly associated with Islam are produced, circulated, and listened to by a wide variety of audiences in local and transnational settings; to explore the ways in which multiple sonic dimensions of Islam have affected the public sphere in different historical moments and contexts (particular in relation to ideas about nationalism, secularism and modernity); and to examine the effect of these sonic dimensions on Muslim and non-Muslim listeners in a local and a transnational perspective.
|READINGS IN HEBREW TEXTS II||MDES W4502|
|Naama Harel||Section 001|
Prerequisites: MDES W4510, MDES W4511, or the instructor's permission. This course focuses on central identities shaping Israeli society and is designed to give students extensive experience in reading Hebrew. Through selected readings of contemporary literary works and media texts, students will increase their proficiency in Hebrew and enhance their understanding of Israeli culture and society. All readings, written assignments, and class discussions are in Hebrew.
|READINGS IN URDU LIT II||MDES W4636|
|AFTAB AHMAD||Section 001|
Prerequisites: two years of prior coursework in Hindi-Urdu (MDES W1612 and MDES W1613), one year of Urdu for Heritage Speakers (MDES W1614 and MDES W1615), or the instructor's permission. This course is a a literary course, with in-depth exposure to some of the finest works of classical and modern Urdu prose and poetry. In the fall semester, our focus will be on some of the most famous Urdu short stories while, in the spring semester, we will focus on various genres of Urdu poetry. The content may change each semester. This course is open to both undergraduates and graduates.
|MUGHAL INDIA||MDES G4652|
|ALLISON BUSCH||Section 001|
The Mughal period was one of the most dynamic eras in world history, when Indian was the meeting place of many cultures. This course will serve as a broad cultural history of Mughal India as seen from a range of perspectives and sources.We consider the Mughals' major achievements in visual culture as manifested in painting and architecture, as well as exploring diverse topics in religion, literature, politics, and historiography.
|PROBLEMS IN S ASIAN THEORY and HIS||HSME G6056|
|SUDIPTA KAVIRAJ; ANUPAMA RAO||Section 001|
This graduate seminar will expose students to major themes and issues in the study of South Asia. The course will provide a serious intellectual foundation for students wishing to pursue specialized, directed research in the region. Themes for consideration will include cultural history and early modernity; capitalism and political economy; genealogies of political thought; anticolonialism; caste and religion; and gender and feminist history.
|POST COL: FILM, FIC, HIST, THEORY||MDES G6600|
|HAMID DABASHI||Section 001|
This course will go over some philosophical and interpretative problems raised by recent works in a field described as "postcolonial theory". It will start with the original debates about "Orientalism" – particularly its critical arguments about the question of representation of the Orient in art and literature, the question of the writing of history, and the logic of basic concepts in the social sciences. The course will analyse some "Orientalist" texts in detail, assess the criticisms offered by postcolonial writers, and take up these three problems – of representation, history and conceptualization for detailed, rigorous critical discussion.
|DISSERTATION COLLOQUIUM||MDES G8008|
|SHELDON POLLOCK||Section 001|
The dissertation colloquium is a non-credit course open to MESAAS doctoral students who have completed the M.Phil. degree. It provides a forum in which the entire community of dissertation writers meets, bridging the department's different fields and regions of research. It complements workshops outside the department focused on one area or theme. Through an encounter with the diversity of research underway in MESAAS, participants learn to engage with work anchored in different regions and disciplines and discover or develop what is common in the department's post-disciplinary methods of inquiry. Since the community is relatively small, it is expected that all post-M.Phil. students in residence will join the colloquium. Post M.Phil. students from other departments may request permission to join the colloquium, but places for non-MESAAS students will be limited. The colloquium convenes every semester, meeting once every two weeks. Each meeting is devoted to the discussion of one or two pre-circulated pieces of work (a draft prospectus or dissertation chapter). Every participant contributes at least one piece of work each year. Requires approval from the instructor.
|UNIVERSALIZING SEXUALITY||MDES G8220|
|JOSEPH A MASSAD||Section 001|
This doctoral seminar will address how the universalization of sexuality as an essential human (and sometime animal) attribute that transcends cultures began to be studied in U.S. academia in earnest in the 1970s, proceeding apace with the mobilization for sexual rights in U.S. domestic social activism, and by the 1980s with the mobilization of universal human rights as a central agenda for both U.S. foreign policy and international activism. With the era of globalization, these trends intensified with the aggressive proliferation of Western-funded non-governmental organizations in the Global North and South. The seminar will examine the literature on the universalization of sexual rights and identities by U.S. and European activists and scholars and the implication this has for sexual citizenship in the Global North and for sexuality studies itself in the Western Academy. Of particular interest to the seminar will be the resistance attributed by this literature to Islam, Muslims, and Arabs to assimilate into this new regime of universal sexuality, whether located in the Muslim or Arab worlds, or among Muslim populations in Europe and the United States and how the latter’s presence in the heart of the Global North may influence sexual citizenship negatively.
For the most up-to-date information, please visit the Registrar's Directory of Classes.