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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Shaun T Lopez
HIST 388
Seattle Campus

Colloquium: Introduction to History

Introduction to the discipline of history for new or prospective majors. Emphasizes the basic skills of reading, analysis, and communication (both verbal and written) that are central to the historian's craft. Each seminar discusses a different subject or problem.

Class description

History 388: Gendering the History of the Modern Middle East

Images of the dusky, foreboding Turk and his sexually charged harem have long been central to the Western fascination with the Middle East. From European traveler accounts dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to contemporary news coverage, film, literature, and art, representations of women as mysteriously sexual, yet oppressed and marginal have been both pervasive and powerful. At the same time, the Middle Eastern men have generally been understood as representatives of a cruel and decadent masculinity. Today, media images of Middle Eastern women and reports of their widespread oppression thus rely on a sexually charged edifice of constructed knowledge already present in Western popular culture.

This course, Gendering the History of the Middle East, serves two important and interrelated purposes. The first is to explore and interrogate the modern history of femininity and masculinity in different Middle Eastern contexts. Using sources from both the Middle East and the Western world, we will examine the ways in which both men and women in the region have been understood and represented, and how those representations and their meanings have shifted in different spatial and temporal contexts. As we will see, the experiences of people in the region are far from monolithic; rather, the experience and performance of sexuality varies widely and has often been the subject of intense debate throughout the region's modern history.

The second major purpose of this course is to introduce new and prospective history majors to some of the critical skills and perspectives integral to reading, researching, and interpreting history. Thus in addition to reading secondary materials about gender and sexuality in the Middle East, students in the course will engage with and analyze a variety of primary source materials. These include newspapers and magazines, court records, government documents, film, art, literature, memoirs, and religious texts drawn from different Middle Eastern contexts. Students will be required to write a research paper, and the syllabus is designed to shepherd students through the various stages of formulating, researching, and writing an original history paper.

Student learning goals

1. Learn some of the ways in which gender and sexuality have been produced and understood in Middle Eastern communities during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries

Learn how to read, analyze, and use a variety of primary sources in the writing of history

Learn how to write an historical essay, with an emphasis on both organization and documentation

Learn how to participate in a small seminar course discussion

Learn the basics of making presentations in a history course

General method of instruction

This course is a seminar and will thus rely heavily on the active participation of students. Students should attend class regularly and complete assigned readings as scheduled, in order to facilitate discussion and the interchange of ideas in the classroom.

Recommended preparation

There is no pre-requisite for this course.

Class assignments and grading

Students will be required to participate in discussions, write short reaction and analysis papers, and complete a longer research assignment.

Grades will be based on the following: 1. written work (short essays, short research paper) 2. class participation 3. oral presentation


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Shaun T Lopez
Date: 10/16/2010