Perspectives on cultural, political, and other aspects of Middle Eastern societies. Focuses on background complexities rather than immediate political-military confrontations. Topics vary. Offered: jointly with NEAR E 495.
The Western world has had a fascination with the "exotic" cultures of Western Asia for centuries. An important part of the fantasy of "otherness" has been constructed around images of the harem, the veiled Muslim woman, the Arab terrorist, and the religious fanatic. This course will study Western representations of the Middle East as a way of probing both internal and external discourses of Middle Eastern cultural identity. While not so concerned with providing a "proper" image of what it means to be Middle Eastern, this course will instead look at the mutually constitutive processes of self-other identification that characterize the tangled relationships between East and West. Competing frames of reference will motivate discussions about whether or not there is anything essential about identity in the region, about whether or not foreign narratives have any role to play in local self-identification, and as well, how and what Western representations of the Middle East reveal about European or American culture.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
This course is an upper division seminar. It will be a small discussion based course with a significant amount of reading and a substantial portion of writing.
Class assignments and grading
Students' grades will be based upon contributions to classroom discussions (25%) and three essays of 3-5 pages each (25% of the grade for each essay).