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 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 @ 10

  • 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 12.09/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 @ 12 & 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.


MES 17.15/*JWST 66.03: The Middle East in the United States: Jews and Arabs in American Society @ 12

  • Ezzedine Fishere & Klaus Milich

The complex identities of Jews and Arabs alike are affected by religion, culture, language, history, and politics, all in their own terms and with the fault lines running both between and within the two communities. Despite their internal and mutual conflicts, the two groups share similar experiences of hostility when trying to integrate into American society with fierce antisemitism and Islamophobia against the backdrop of increasing right-wing ethno-nationalism. Concomitantly, both groups share deep ambivalences about assimilating to American culture vs. retaining discrete cultural identities. If Jews and Arabs play decisive roles in US politics, both as effective actors and as imagined targets of opposition, the United States in turn acted not only as mediator in the international relationship between the two groups; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, post-9/11 politics, anti-terrorist actions, or the Trump administration’s travel ban on five Muslim-dominated countries have also influenced the relationship between Jewish and Arab communities within the United States. Instead of equating the experiences of Jews and Arabs viz-a-viz America, this course examines the multifaceted encounters in what has to be considered a complex Jewish-Arab-American triangular. The ways in which Jews and Arabs interact in the US, will be as central to the course as examples of hybrid cultural experiences of Arab Jews and artefacts such as the numerous American synagogues built in the style of Moorish architecture. We will examine cultural representations of Jews and Arabs in American literature, movies, documentaries, memoirs, art, popular culture and political analyses with attention to aspects of class, race and gender. Finally, the course will focus on the political expressions of Jewish- and Arab-Americans and their relations to the Middle East, and here in particular to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


    MES 85: Advanced Independent Research  @ arranged time