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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

James M. Gustafson
HIST 161
Seattle Campus

Survey of the Muslim Near East

The Middle East (the Arab countries, Israel, Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan) from the emergence of Islam in AD 622 to the present: culture, economics, politics.

Class description

HIST 161 covers approximately 1400 years of history, from the origins of the first Islamic community in 7th century Arabia to the present, to provide students with a background to the historical development of culture, politics, economy and society in the Islamic world.. The geographical focus of this course is on the Eastern Mediterranean region and greater Iran, with some limited discussion of North Africa. This course will emphasize the multiple applications and interpretations of Islam in the formation of a new social order out of the historical context of Late Antiquity, as well as the variety and diversity of the development of Islamic civilization, including the contributions of non-Muslim communities. Within this discussion, we will focus on the development of the caliphate under the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties; scientific and literary culture; the early ‘Alid community and the development of Shi’ism; heterodox and millenarian socio-religious movements; the challenges of the Turko-Mongol invasions; the formation of the Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal Empires; and finally the rise of colonialism, nationalism, socialism, and reform movements in the oil rich states of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Lecture course

Recommended preparation

No prerequisites.

Class assignments and grading

The map quiz will be given in Week 1, followed by two 30-minute quizzes in weeks 3 and 6. These quizzes will consist of multiple choice and short answer questions related to the readings and lectures. The final exam will be held in class on Friday August 21. Please note there are no make-up exams or quizzes.

The final paper for this course is due on Friday August 14. Students will produce a 5 to 7 page paper on a topic chosen with the consultation of the instructor. You will be asked to submit a one paragraph prospectus by Friday July 17 at the latest. This paper will be an analysis and comparison of at least three sources and address a historiographical issue related to the themes of this course.

Map Quiz 10%; 2 Quizzes 40%; Final Exam 25%; Final Paper 25%


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.
Course Website
Last Update by James M. Gustafson
Date: 06/21/2009