As the Mossavar-Rahmani Center does not currently offer its own courses, listed is a selection of courses at Princeton that may be of interest and relevant to the broader themes with which the Center is concerned.
*Please visit the Office of the Registrar for complete information and enrollment.
This course examines the complex relationship between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. For 36 years the two countries' interaction has consisted mostly of trading insults, threats, and accusations. In the last two years there has been a partial thaw, but deep differences remain. We examine how the relationship between the U.S. and Iran affects domestic politics in both capitals and consider alternatives to the current enmity, prospects for change, and policy choices for both sides.
Although the Middle East is often seen as exceptional, it is part of our globe: through connections and in being part of worldwide processes. This seminar's double goal is to study the Middle East from this perspective, and thereby also to explore how the modern world emerged. We will use Irye, Osterhammel, and Rosenberg, ed., A History of the World, 2 vols., covering 1870 to the present, as the backbone of the course; and in parallel read case studies on the Middle East in the world, including global cultural patterns, social webs, economic ties, imperial action, state building and international system, and the spread of political ideas.
World War I changed - and ended - the lives of millions. Its impact upon the Middle East is widely acknowledged but not often explored. The war destroyed the old imperial Ottoman order, paving the way to the elimination of the Caliphate and the emergence of nation-states across the Middle East and the Caucasus. It fundamentally altered concepts of identity, patterns of authority, notions of religion, and ethnic and political borders. This seminar examines the Great War in the Middle East from right before WWI through the immediate post-war period. Topics include geopolitics, empire, Pan-Islam, nationalism, ethnic conflict, Zionism, and oil.
Viewing culture as a technology and battleground of imperialism, this course explores transitions and overlaps between European and American empire in the Middle East through a cultural lens. Parsing the pursuit of hegemony by Western actors, it also tracks resistance to cultural domination on the ground. Imperial culture is formed by and produces power asymmetries, with effects felt both in the region and at home. We will test that proposition by attending to Orientalism, Americanization, anticolonial acts, spies and counterinsurgency, oil culture, humanitarian appeals, developmental interventions, sexual politics, and the War on Terror.
Course investigates the relationship of empires to global regimes and processes. Students apply theoretical perspectives on empires and global regimes drawn from the disciplines of history, political science, and sociology, and seek to develop their understanding of the role of empires as mantles of global exchange and as sources of the rules and norms that have governed global affairs. Offered as part of a John E. Sawyer Seminar, this one-time-only course features five guest lecturers.
This seminar has one goal: to help turn historians "of the modern Middle East" into "historians" of the modern Middle East. We go about this task in three steps. Weeks 1-4 discuss four key questions that underlie all history writing: What is history?; the fact; time/periodization; and scale. Weeks 5-10 are three two-week-long segments that introduce three historiographic debates that have been central in the last 2-3 decades and that correspond to the research interests of many Middle East historians: gender, cultural history, and transnational/global history. In weeks 11-12 we discuss pre-circulated first drafts of students' seminar papers.
This course will focus on subcultures and social worlds -- Freegans and trolls, the urban poor and the "one percent", Wagnerites and goths, Iraq war veterans and Iranian immigrants, the deaf and their families: subcultures shape the news and culture but also emerge as responses to them. Writing on such groups, and their origins, rituals, and beliefs, has made for some of the best non-fiction of the past half-century. Students will read from that body of work in the service of creating their own, using reporting on the subcultures of Princeton, its surrounds, and the Internet.
This course offers an introduction to pre-modern Middle Eastern social history focused on gender and women's lives. Proceeding chronologically from late antiquity through the eighteenth century, we will use secondary scholarship and primary sources (including legal and literary texts, court records, and letters) to examine pre-Islamic and Islamicate ideas and practices surrounding male and female modesty, mobility, honor, kinship, social ties, access to property, legal status, and sexuality; how these ideas and practices shaped men's and women's experiences within households and in the public sphere; and how they changed over time.
The 21st century has witnessed the explosion of public and scholarly interest in gender in Islamic cultures. Within this context, anthropology has advanced path-breaking approaches in diverse localities from the Middle East to the United States. This course surveys theoretical and ethnographic approaches to the study of women, gender and sexuality in Islamic cultures, focusing on work written in the last decade.
In 2014, ISIS distributed a pamphlet of authoritative responses (fatwas), based in Classical Islamic law, to questions about the enslavement and sexual exploitation of non-Muslim women and girls. This revival of slavery shocked the Muslim world and led to questions about the history of slavery and "concubinage" in Islam. We will address some of those questions through close reading of texts in translation and modern scholarship. What is the history of slavery in Islamic law and practice? What role do sex and gender play in slavery, specifically in Islamic societies? How "Islamic" is slavery? We will also include a comparative perspective.
Using primary sources in translation, this seminar introduces students to the thought of key Muslim figures active between the 18th and the 20th centuries. What are the legal, theological, and other traditions with reference to which their writings are to be understood? How do we relate their work to the social and political contexts in which it was produced? How have the questions to which they were responding changed during this time?
This course examines the oulines of Islamic family law in gender issues, sexual ethics, family structure, family planning, marriage and divorce, parenthood, child guardianship and custody, etc. The course starts with a general survey of Islamic legal system: its history and developments, structure and spirit, and the attempts of the Muslim jurists to come to terms with the challenge of time.
Selected topics in Islamic law and jurisprudence. The topics vary from year to year, but the course normally includes reading of fatwas and selected Islamic legal texts in Arabic.
This semester the course will be a chapter and paper clinic. Each participant will be expected to submit at least one draft chapter or paper to the seminar, and will receive intensive comments and suggestions on both form and substance from the other participants and the instructor. Chapters and papers may relate to any period or aspect of Middle Eastern or Islamic history.
Concern about climate change and need for energy independence has driven recent growth in nuclear fission power. However the events at Fukushima Daichi and the negotiations with Iran illustrate some of the issues. Fusion energy is moving towards realization of an alternative approach to nuclear power, with fewer dangers, but not yet ready to be commercialized. In this course we will study the science and technology of both fission and fusion. You will gain a good physical understanding of how both approaches work, including their benefits and risks, through applying and expanding your scientific and mathematical skills.
Persian Language, Literature, & Media
This course will engage students thoughtfully with modern Iranian society and politics through documentaries. Each week, students will watch a documentary and prepare for a lively in-class discussion of the issues. Students will be heavily exposed to colloquial Persian.
Course acquaints students with the literature of the second great classical language of Islam and its legacy of epics, chronicles, lyric poems, mystical writings and imaginative tales from the traditional Persian-speaking world - including not only from present-day Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan but also from Anatolia, Central Asia and the Indian sub-continent. Continuation of NES 539. Treats the literature from 1200 to 1800.