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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Arbella H Bet-Shlimon
HIST 590
Seattle Campus

Topics in History

Seminar on selected topics in general history, with special emphasis on preparation for field examinations. Topics vary according to interests of students and instructor.

Class description

SPRING 2014: URBAN HISTORIES OF THE MODERN MIDDLE EAST

**Note: This course has assigned readings for the first class meeting. The syllabus and initial readings will be distributed to registered students via email around 25 March, or one week before the first meeting on 1 April. They will also be posted to the Canvas course website at this time. Students who will not be registered by 25 March but are interested in taking the course should email shlimon@uw.edu during the spring recess to obtain the initial readings.**

This course introduces graduate students to recent trends in the study of the modern Middle East (from the early modern era through the present) through the reading of a variety of texts from a broadly urbanist perspective. It is of particular interest to students in history and related disciplines in the social sciences who are interested in the society and politics of the modern Middle East, urban studies, ethnography, and/or memory studies. In this course, we will focus mainly on academic monographs in Middle Eastern studies published within the last six years that adopt a localized geographical scope and are either historical in methodology or ethnographic with a significant historical angle. The syllabus also includes fiction and film in which cities, neighborhoods, and communities are central characters. The communities discussed range from cosmopolitan capital cities and major centers of trade, such as Cairo and Aleppo, to provincial towns and villages; the larger region covered spans from the Maghreb to Turkey and Iran.

The broad questions we will pose include: what do we learn from studying the Middle East, or any other region, through smaller geographical scopes such as cities and towns? What does it look like when these communities are the sites and/or subjects of history-making and memory-making by their inhabitants, and what are the broader social and political implications of these practices? How do historians, anthropologists, and other scholars approach their studies of these places methodologically? What are the advantages of these scholarly approaches, and what are their inherent challenges? How do recent innovations in this field of study reflect (or depart from) current scholarly trends in general?

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Other than graduate standing in History, NELC, one of the Jackson School's Middle East interdisciplinary programs, or a related discipline or area, there are no prerequisites for this course.

Class assignments and grading

The reading load is typically one monograph per week or the equivalent. Assignments will include book reviews; an in-class presentation; and a final historiographical essay of about 4000 words addressing multiple works, at least one of which is a book that is not on the syllabus.

Grades are based on class participation and on the writing assignments.


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.
Canvas course website
Last Update by Arbella H Bet-Shlimon
Date: 02/01/2014