Winter 2020

MES Course Offerings Winter 2020

Arabic 2: 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.


ARAB 1.20: Intensive Arabic @ 10

 • Mokhtar Bouba

ARAB 1.2 is an intensive course that combines elementary and intermediate beginner Arabic (ARAB 1 and 2). Students who take this course can go on to take ARAB 3. This intensive Arabic course is built on the fundamentals of experiential and skill-based learning. The focus of this course falls exclusively on Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) -- the standard language for reading, writing, and all formal speech in the media and school instruction. It is the basic foundation for any serious engagement with the Middle East and North Africa. We focus on the progressive development of the four skills: speaking, reading, listening and writing.


Arabic 42: 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 2: 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 21: Intermediate Modern Hebrew @ arranged time

  • Nurit Ben Yehuda

Continued study of Modern Israeli Hebrew grammar and syntax. Emphasis is placed on acquisition of the spoken language and on listening and reading comprehension. The course includes selected readings from contemporary Hebrew authors.


Hebrew 59: Advanced Independent Study in Hebrew @ arranged time


MES 1.01: Introduction to Middle Eastern Studies @ 10A
    • Jonathan Smolin
Conflict seems like the lens through which the Middle East is perceived and studied. But beyond wars and religious fanaticism, are there other conflicts, both social and personal, that generate great art and dark humor expressed in literature, film, and music? This interdisciplinary course offers an introduction to the modern Middle East as a field of study, a region, and a site of cultural and artistic production. Each week is structured in such a way as to offer a historical and political context for particular issues or eras, and shed light on the way people experience these issues through art and culture, contact and exchange. Starting with the examination of the rise of modernity and the effects of European colonialism on Middle Eastern politics and culture from the nineteenth century onward, we will examine the rise of nationalism, authoritarianism, and fundamentalism. We will link this discussion to recent developments in the region from the “Green Revolution” in Iran in 2009 to the “Arab Spring” starting in 2010, and analyze the role of social media and youth culture in the process. Before concluding with a discussion of Middle Eastern displacement and diaspora, we will address questions of gender and sexuality in Middle Eastern societies. No knowledge of Middle Eastern languages is required for this course.


MES 2.02/*HIST 5.02: Introduction to Islamic Middle East @ 11

  • 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 6.02/*REL 8: Introduction to Islam @ TBD
    • Joseph Vignone
This course will provide students with useful tools for reading about, thinking about, or otherwise engaging with Islam and Muslims. It is first a survey of important topics in the study of the religion of Islam, including the Qur'an and the Prophet, the role of Islamic mysticism, Islam and the state, Islamic law, and Islamic theories of family and person. We also discuss Orientalism and the western study of Islam, so that we can understand ourselves as students of the Islamic tradition.


MES 7.01: First-Year Seminar: Arab Revolutions: Dependency, Despotism and the Struggle for Democracy @ 10A
    • Ezzedine Fishere
This course explores the long struggle of Arabs to build independent and democratic states. After long cycles of revolutions and repression, the Arab World still suffer from despotism and dependency, and its people still yearn and struggle for freedom and good governance. Why have Arab revolutions failed? Are Arabs condemned to live under tyranny or is there hope forthose who seek democratic, accountable governments and rule of law? To answer this question, we will dig into the complex political and cultural realities of the Arab World. We will read about old and new Arab revolutions; from Prince Abdul-Qader’s armed revolt in Algeria (1832-1847); Egypt’s multiple revolutions (1882 and 1919); Lawrence of Arabia’s Arab revolt (1914-1918); the bleak revolution of Palestine (1936), all the way to the Arab Spring of 2011 and its subsequent collapse into civil war and despotism. The readings cover these revolutions and the deep dynamics that shape Arab societies and states. We will also read old texts written by Arabs about freedom, despotism and renaissance. As such, this course introduces students to the politics and culture of one of the most turbulent regions of our world.


MES 7.03: First-Year Seminar: Jerusalem: Vision and Reality @ 2A

  • Lewis Glinert

Jerusalem has always mesmerized minds -- Royal City of Solomon, mystical core of the world, site of a foretold apocalypse, twice rased to the ground, focus of Jewish messianic dreams, since 1948 once more a Jewish capital but still savagely fought over. In this course, we will sample the symbolism of Jerusalem in Jewish, Christian and Islamic intellectual and artistic expression, from the Bible down to the present. Why has this city evoked such passions?



MES 10.10/JWST 045: Soundscapes of the Middle East @ 12

  • 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 @ 2A
    • Ezzedine Fishere
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 16.08/WGSS 49.06: Women and War in Modern Arabic Literature and Film @ 2A
    • Eman Morsi

Women are central figures in the political upheavals of the modern Middle East; their images have had a remarkable hold on national and international imaginations. This course investigates the representations of women and war in literature and film through such topics as colonialism and decolonization, Third Wave feminism, civil war, gendered spaces, the gender politics of national symbolism and liberation, as well as the politics and aesthetics of documentary film.


MES 16.30: Modern Arabic Fiction @ 2A
    • Jonathan Smolin
This course is an introduction to twentieth-century fiction across the Arab world. Looking at works from North Africa to the Middle East, we will examine how Arab writers and filmmakers have dealt with such themes as nationalism, immigration, freedom, sexuality, war, violence, and religion. Authors include Tayyib Salih, Mohamed Choukri, Ghassan Kanafani, Tahar Wattar, and Hanah al-Shaykh, among others.



MES 81.01/THEA 45: Arab Theatre @ 2
    • Eman Morsi

This class is a survey of the main trends and themes in Arab theatre from the mid-19th century to contemporary times. Students will be introduced to some of the main playwrights, actors and directors who helped define the art in the Arab world over the last century and a half.


MES 85: Advanced Independent Research (Senior Honors Thesis part 1) @ arranged time