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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Arbella H Bet-Shlimon
HIST 163
Seattle Campus

The Modern Middle East

Explores the social, political, and cultural changes that have occurred in the Middle East during the past two centuries. Covers the main social, economic, and intellectual currents that have transformed this region, starting with Napoleon's conquest of Egypt in 1798 and ending with the present moment in history. Offered: Sp.

Class description

This course is a survey of the history of the Middle East beginning in the early 19th century and ending with current events. It aims to illuminate the profound and turbulent political, social and economic changes that this region has experienced in the modern era, the reverberations of which are evident in today’s protest movements and uprisings. Politically, the region transitioned from Eastern imperial structures under the Ottomans and Qajars to Western neocolonialism; then, as the influence of Europe declined, to a combination of autocratic revolutionary governments and tenacious conservative monarchies. Secularist governments initially prevailed in many of these countries while Islamist thought, usually repressed by authorities, flourished and eventually came to the fore in the form of Islamist movements. The twentieth century in the Middle East also saw several wars and contentious peace processes, driven by both internal factors and external superpowers. Economically and culturally, the Middle East underwent an uneasy process of integration into the global capitalist system, often provoking socialist-inspired nativist reactions.

In this course, we will examine all of these themes through readings selected from history, primary source texts, fiction in translation, contemporary journalism, and historical video clips. Discussions of all major Arab countries, Israel, Turkey, and Iran will be interwoven into the lectures as thematically appropriate, while the readings focus primarily on the countries in the political and geographical core of the Middle East: Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian Territories (Palestine before 1948), Iraq, Turkey and Iran.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Two weekly lectures (100 minutes each plus a 10-minute break in the middle) and a mandatory weekly 50-minute discussion section.

Recommended preparation

This is an introductory course; no background knowledge of the Middle East is required.

Class assignments and grading


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 Arbella H Bet-Shlimon
Date: 10/03/2013