Fall 2018

MES Fall 2018 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.


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


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 59: Advanced Independent Study in Arabic @ arranged time


MES 2.02/*HIST 5.02: Introduction to Islamic Middle East @ 2

  • Golnar Nikpour

This course is a survey of the histories and cultures of the Islamic Middle East, starting in the era before the advent of Islam in the 7th century until the eve of the 20th century. This class will begin with the regional and global contexts in which Islam emerged, examining the history of the Prophet Muhammad, the Qur’anic revelation, and the first community of believers. We will then look at the expansion of the “abode of Islam” over the course of several centuries, asking why so many people in so many different regions converted to Islam. We will also study philosophical, cultural, legal, political, and social trends in region now known as the Middle East and North Africa until the era of early European colonialism.


MES 3.02/*ANTH 39: Archaeology of the Middle East @ 10A

  • Jesse Casana

This course provides an introduction to the civilizations of the ancient Near East and to the history of archaeological research in this important region. Encompassing the modern nations of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel/Palestine, the Near East saw the emergence of the world’s first villages, cities, and empires, and is therefore central to our understanding of human history. Following an overview of its geography, this course offers a survey of Near Eastern cultural development, art, and archaeology from the earliest evidence of human settlement around 13,000 BC to the conquest of the region by Alexander the Great. 

Each week will be devoted to a new topic, including the development of agriculture at the dawn of the Neolithic, the origins of cities, kingship, and writing in the fourth millennium BC, diplomacy and exchange systems of the Bronze Age, Biblical archaeology, and the transformations that came with the emergence of powerful empires during the first millennium BC. Weekly topics will be introduced with lectures on Monday and Wednesday, and a group discussion/debate of a number of related readings on Friday.


MES 8.01: 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 12.03: Egyptian Culture, Society, and Politics  @ 2A

  • Ezzedine Fishere

This seminar will examine the cultural, social, and political life of modern Egypt. One way of examining this complex society is through revisiting Egypt’s struggle with modernity. From Mohamad Ali’s modernization program in the 19th century to the recent chanting for freedom in Tahrir Square, Egypt’s different social forces, state, and international partners have been shaping its modernity in different—sometimes contradictory—ways. This struggle transformed the political, economic, social and cultural landscape of the country, and continues to be the focal point of its unfolding drama. The spread of modern ideologies (nationalism, liberalism, socialism), the construction of Islamism, the reordering of social hierarchies and family structure, the transformation of norms and values, among other issues, are better understood when read as part of this long, twisted, and tormented march of modernity.