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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

G Vatandoust
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

THE CRISIS OF SHI’ISM, NATIONALISM, LIBERALISM, AUTHORITARIANISM AND FUNDAMENTALISM IN 20th CENTURY IRAN

Modern Iran has experienced a significant measure of change and upheaval in the twentieth century. It has witnessed two revolutions (the Constitutional Revolution of 1906 and the Islamic Revolution of 1979), two coup d’etats (the coup of 1921 and 1953) and periods of liberalism and openness followed by periods of suppression and authoritarian rule. This course will attempt to study the elements that have fomented and shaped the fabric of modern Iranian society. It will explore how Shi’ism when face to face with the forces of modernity in the 19th century, managed to readjust itself in order to temporarily accommodate the latter. It will also explore how a small but active group of western educated Iranians managed to import western concepts of governance, justice and civil society and how they were able to introduce these ideas to the masses through the newly emerging press in exile and the instrument of religion in the form of social movements. It will look upon gender and the rise of the feminist movement in Iran. Despite numerous obstacles during the 20th century, Iranian women are among the best educated and the most empowered in the Middle East.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

Students are expected to participate actively in class discussions, to do extensive reading and research on a topic of their choice and to present their findings in class. The course will be supplemented by numerous films that will reflect the social issues and problems facing contemporary Iran. Students are expected to provide their input and to make their contributions during discussions.


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 Teresa Marie Frizell
Date: 02/05/2008