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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Denis Basic
JSIS 498
Seattle Campus

Readings in International Studies

Reading and discussion of selected works of major importance in interdisciplinary international studies. Restricted to majors in International Studies.

Class description

This is an advanced reading course in which we shall be exploring the phenomenon of “Holy War,” primarily in Islamic and Christian (later to be Western) civilizations, but also in Judaism. We shall be examining historical roots of religious conflicts, as well as their implications on today’s world.

Hence, we shall be scrutinizing the question whether the origins of the concept of Holy War for Jews, Christians, and Muslims can be traced back to their differing interpretations of scripture, or rather to sheer mundane reasons, like economic and political prestige, and eventually even to secular ideologies, like nationalism and imperialism, or to both - religious and worldly reasons.

To achieve this goal, we shall be researching original sources - Jewish, Christian, and Muslim ones - in English translation, besides studying the commentaries by prominent scholars in the fields of history, history of religion, and Near and Middle Easter Studies. To give some color to the written word, we shall also be watching some documentaries related to the subject.

Student learning goals

to master the concepts of Jihad and Crusade, and Holy War in general, through a historical prism;

to examine the relationship between the Medieval Crusades and Jihads and contemporary political events and violence;

to practice analytical and critical thinking while evaluating the strengths of different arguments based on authors’ source selection and methods;

to explore the power of propaganda throughout centuries;

to examine the motives for violence by applying psycho-historical and socio-psychological, besides conventional scholarly apparati.

General method of instruction

This course is envisioned as a reading seminar. We shall be meeting once per week for two hours mainly to discuss the materials that we will be reading on our own. Besides working on written materials, we shall also be watching and discussing some documentary movies related to the main themes of the course.

Recommended preparation

Regular class attendance, reading in advance to be prepared for class discussions, timely submission of assignments, and early start on the term paper will guarantee a complete success in the course.

Class assignments and grading

• Ten reading logs based on pre-assigned readings. Reading logs are due in the beginning of the class every Thursday starting with week 2. The reading logs contain students reflections and comments on the readings assigned for the given week.

[Length: the minimum of three double-spaced pages (28 lines per page) in Times New Roman font, 12 pt. Bring a printed version of the reading log to class and e-mail the electronic version to the instructor. Instructor may or may not provide questions as guidelines for reading logs. Best reading logs will be posted on the website and will bring the student extra points.]

• Two Presentation - each student will give two short presentations in class based on the assigned readings. Students will be expected to present the materials and prepare questions for discussions based on weekly readings. Presenters need to prepare a PPP that will highlight the main points. The PPPs will be posted online. In addition to these two presentations, all students will briefly present the final findings of their term papers during the last class session.

• Term paper - The term paper needs to be based on a pre-approved topic and list of literature. It can be a review of one of the books from the list of secondary literature (see below), or a comparison of views by two or more authors on a specific subject from the lists of primary and secondary literature located below or from some other pre-approved sources.

[Technical specifications: 12 double-spaced pages, not including bibliography and cover page. Use the Chicago style. Main body of the text in Times New Roman font 12pt, footnotes in Times New Roman 10 pt.]

An outline of the paper is due on Thursday, October 17 in class. The outline of the paper needs to include the hypothesis/question considered, the first results of initial research, as well as the list of literature that the student plans to use in the paper.

The final version of the paper is due on the last day of instruction, Thursday, December 12, 2013.

• No formal final exam.

•Class attendance 10% •Participation in discussions 10% •Ten reading logs 50% (5% each) •Two Presentations 10% •Term paper 20 %


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.
Additional Information
Last Update by Denis Basic
Date: 09/11/2013