Fall 2019

MES Fall 2019 Course Offerings

Arabic 1: Beginning Arabic

  • Jamila Chahboun @ 9S
  • Mostafa Ouajjani @ 9S

An introduction to written and spoken Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). In addition to mastering the basics of grammar, emphasis is placed on active functional communication in the language, reading comprehension, and listening comprehension. Mandatory apprentice-teacher-run drill sessions meet four times/week (4 hours/week) for all beginning Arabic language classes.


Arabic 22: Intermediate Arabic @ 10

  • Jamila Chahboun

Intermediate level of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). Continuation of presentation of fundamentals of grammar and development of proficiency in reading, writing, spoken communication skills, and aural comprehension, including much authentic cultural material.


Arabic 31: Advanced Arabic @ 10

  • Mostafa Ouajjani

A continuation of the fundamentals of grammar and further acquisition of spoken communication skills, aural comprehension, and proficiency in reading and writing. Students will be expected to master a wide variety of reading materials.


Arabic 41: Advanced Arabic @ 12

  • Hussein Kadhim

This three-course series (41, 42 and 43) may be taken non-sequentially. Readings for the courses are extensive and of a high level of complexity; they are drawn from a variety of genres and periods. The progression towards full proficiency in the language is a fundamental objective of the sequence. The courses will be conducted entirely in Arabic.


Arabic 59: Advanced Independent Study in Arabic @ arranged time


Hebrew 1: Beginning Hebrew @ 2

  • Nurit Ben Yehuda

An introduction to spoken and written Modern Israeli Hebrew (MIH). In addition to mastering the basics of grammar, emphasis is placed on active functional communication in the language, reading comprehension, and listening comprehension. Mandatory student-run drill sessions meet four times/week for one hour (4 hours/week) for all beginning Hebrew language classes.


Hebrew 59: Advanced Independent Study in Hebrew @ arranged time


MES 8.01/GOVT 40.25: Introduction to Middle East Politics @ 10A

  • Ezzedine Fishere

This is a gateway course to the political life of the Middle East. It will introduce students to the main political issues and dynamics of the region, including:

  • Conflict and civil wars, from the Arab-Israeli conflict to the Syrian collapse
  • Security arrangements, especially in oil-rich countries
  • The political economy of (mal)development
  • Political ideologies and the conflict between liberalism, nationalism and Islamism
  • International politics and the American presence in the region
  • Rivalries and alliances among Middle Eastern powers, including Iran and Turkey
  • The return of authoritarianism and stalled democratic processes
  • Terrorism
  • Anti-colonialism

We will cover the basic contours and intellectual debates around these issues, analyzing the main texts tracing their development. The aim of this course is not only to familiarize students with the basic political features of the Middle East but also to equip students with the tools necessary to pursue future academic and analytical work on the politics of the region.


MES 10.10/JWST 045: Soundscapes of the Middle East @ 11

  • Andrew Simon

What is the relationship between popular music and the Iranian Revolution? How may jazz help us rethink the making of modern Turkey? Why is Umm Kulthum considered to be “the voice of Egypt”? In recent years, scholars have started to question the conspicuous “silence” pervading many academic works that privilege one sense – sight – to the detriment of all others. This seminar builds upon these overdue efforts by critically engaging the writings of historians, anthropologists, ethnomusicologists, and media experts with the aim of uncovering how the study of sound may radically enrich our understanding of the modern Middle East. Beginning with an overview of sound studies, we will consider where multi-sensory scholarship on North Africa, the Levant, and the Gulf fits into this burgeoning field of inquiry. After situating the Middle East within a body of literature that is at once innovative and highly interdisciplinary, we will then shift to exploring several key themes, including religion, biography, popular culture, mass media, gender, space, and the environment, in relation to the region’s diverse soundscapes. To assist us on this journey, we will conduct close readings of several primary sources, from “confidential” embassy reports and colloquial Arabic poems to contemporary noise complaints and national radio broadcasts. As a result, we will begin to look at, and listen to, the Middle East in an entirely new way.


MES 12.09/JWST 40.01/*GOVT 40.09: Politics of Israel and Palestine @ 2

    • Bernard Avishai

This course is about the protracted Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the many unsuccessful attempts to resolve it. First, we will examine the roots and developments of the conflict and see how Palestinian nationalism and Zionism clashed in the early 20th century giving birth to one of the world's oldest disputes. We will also examine how the involvement of Arab states in 1947 and then again in 1967 transformed the Palestinian-Israel conflict into a full-fledged Arab-Israeli confrontation, with both regional and global ramifications.


MES 16.07: Arabian Nights East and West @ 2

  • Hussein Kadhim

An introduction to Arabo-Islamic culture through its most accessible and popular exponent, One Thousand and One Nights. The course will take this masterpiece of world literature as the focal point for a multidisciplinary literary study. It will cover the genesis of the text from Indian and Mediterranean antecedents, its Arabic recensions, its reception in the West, and its influence on European literature. The course will be taught in English in its entirety. No prerequisites.