NES Graduate Courses
Permanent Graduate Courses
NES 500 Introduction to the Professional Study of the Near East
M. Şükrü Hanioğlu
A departmental seminar normally taken by all entering graduate students. It is designed to introduce students to reference and research tools, major trends in the scholarship of the field, and the faculty of the department.
NES 502 An Introduction to the Islamic Scholarly Tradition
Michael A. Cook
A hands-on introduction to such basic genres of medieval scholarship as biography, history, tradition, and Koranic exegesis, taught through the intensive reading of texts, mostly in Arabic. The syllabus varies according to the interests of the students and the instructor.
NES 503 Themes in Islamic History and Culture
Michael A. Cook
The theme varies from year to year. The format normally includes both the analytical treatment of issues and the reading of texts in Near Eastern languages, especially Arabic.
NES 504 Introduction to Ottoman Turkish
An introduction to the writing system and grammar of Ottoman Turkish through a close reading of graded selections taken from newspapers, short stories, and travelogues printed in the late Ottoman and early Republican era.
NES 505 Readings in Ottoman Turkish
Reading and discussion of texts focusing on key issues in Ottoman Turkish history. Goals are to develop reading skills in Ottoman Turkish and to examine important texts.
NES 506 Ottoman Diplomatics: Paleography and Diplomatic Documents
M. Şükrü Hanioğlu
An introduction to Ottoman paleography and diplomatics. The documents will be in divani and rik’a scripts.
NES 511 Introduction to Syriac
A systematic introduction to Syriac language. Close reading of selected passages of Syriac texts.
NES 512 Intermediate Syriac
Study of selected passages from various genres of Syriac literature. Knowledge of Syriac is required.
NES 523 Readings in Judeo-Arabic
An introduction to the reading of Arabic texts written by medieval Jews in the Hebrew script, especially documents from the Cairo Geniza.
NES 531, 532 Readings in Classical Arabic Literature
A reading of selections of poetry and prose. Problems of narrative, poetics, and the like may be discussed according to the interests of the class.
NES 539, 540 Studies in Persian Literature 900–1800
Two-semester selected readings in the original from the literature of Classical Persian, the second great cultural language of Islam: chronicles, epics, lyrics, mysticism (e.g. tales-within-tales of spiritual initiation) from throughout the Persian-speaking world (Iran and Central Asia, Islamic India and Anatolia) from the 10th to 19th centuries. Part I, ca. 900 - 1200, addresses the ancient epic tradition's Islamization, "mirrors for kings" written for Samanid, Ghaznavid and Seljuk rulers, and the impact of Neoplatonic mysticism. Part II, ca. 1200-1800, pursues the flowering of chronicles, lyrics and mystical tales under the Il-Khans, Delhi Sultans, Timurids, Safavids, and Mughals.
NES 545 Problems in Near Eastern Jewish History
A study of a number of central problems, historiographical issues, and primary sources relevant to the history of the Jewish minority under Islam in the Middle Ages. Topics vary from year to year.
NES 552 History and Society of Saudi Arabia
Bernard A. Haykel
This course examines the history, politics and society of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, perhaps the most important country in both the Arab and Islamic worlds today. Students will be exposed to the Kingdom's complex relationship with political Islam, the global oil market, other Arab and Muslim countries, and the West. This course will give students a solid overview of the Kingdom's history, politics and society through a careful selection of published and unpublished studies. The aim of the course is to get students acquainted with the history of the Kingdom and the main factors that have played a role in its unfolding.
NES 553 Studies in Islamic Religion and Thought
This course focuses on reading texts that are illustrative of various issues in Muslim religious thought. The texts are selected according to students' needs.
NES 554 Empire and Nation in Theory and Practice: The Middle East and Eurasia
Michael A. Reynolds
The end of dynastic imperial rule in Eurasia and the Middle East was a seminal event in the history of the 20th century. This course starts by surveying a range of theories of nationalism drawn from varied disciplines. It then asks students to apply them to the historical record using cases drawn from Ottoman, Russian, and occasionally Austro-Hungarian history. The origins of nationalism and the nature of imperial rule are among the topics discussed. The final part of the course compares the nationalizing polices of several post-imperial regimes and revisits the question of whether nationalism is central or epiphenomenal.
NES 555 Themes in Islamic Law and Jurisprudence
Selected topics in Islamic law and jurisprudence. The topics vary from year to year, but the course normally includes the reading of fatwas and selected Islamic legal texts in Arabic.
NES 561 Studies in Modern Arab History
This course aims to survey a variety of modern historical and religious texts in Arabic. The topics vary from year to year, depending on the students' needs and interests.
NES 563 Comparative Transformations in the Near East and Eurasia
Michael A. Reynolds
This course surveys the political, intellectual, social, and cultural transformations of the Near East and Eurasia from the late 17th through the 20th centuries by investigating the responses of the states and societies of those two broad regions to common geopolitical, economic, and intellectual challenges. The course seeks to understand those responses on their own terms, to relate them to each other, and thereby stimulate students to think outside the models and assumptions provided by European historiography.
NES 567 The Politics of the Contemporary Muslim World
The course examines and compares the role of Islamist movements, women's rights movements, and Islamic political parties in shaping social and political change across a variety of cases. Case studies draw upon the broader Muslim world, with particular emphasis on movements and parties in Iran, Egypt, Indonesia and Turkey.
NES 571 Problems in Early Ottoman History
The course is a study of the origins and development of the Ottoman state. The emphasis is on the characteristic features of its cultural, economic, and social life, as they were developed in the eastern Balkans. By retracing the establishment of Ottoman rule in northern Greece it will examine the nature of Ottoman administrative practices in the 14th and 15th centuries.
NES 587 Salafi Islam
Salafism and Salafi Muslims have irrupted on the global and Middle Eastern political scenes in the last decade, and are often described by pundits in the media as the enemies of the West and all that is modern. This course will interrogate such common, and mistaken, assumptions, looking more carefully at the medieval theology and law of the Salafi movement as well as the beliefs and actions of its modern and contemporary followers.
Active, One-Time-Only* Courses Taught by NES Faculty Members
NES 515 Warfare and the Making of the Modern Middle East
Michael A. Reynolds
Course takes up the analysis of war and its impact upon the societies of the Middle East in the 20th and 21st centuries. Introduces students to theories of war and warfighting and then examines a series of case studies of violent conflicts starting with World War I and ending with the American military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. Topics addressed include conventional warfare, unconventional warfare and insurgency, imperialism, nationalism, decolonization, and the impact of the Middle East on contemporary military thought.
NES 516 Problems in Early Modern and Modern North African History
This graduate seminar introduces students to problems related to the history of North Africa from the 16th to the beginning of the 21th century. In particular, it explores the crucial issues of chronology: how periods in North African history have been defined and to what extent are they relevant? This seminar focuses on the issue of majority and minorities in North African studies by reviewing recent research on Berbers and Jews in the Maghrib. In a second part, this seminar also surveys recent topics in the relevant literature, such as environmental history, gender studies and religious history.
NES 522 / REL 540 Nationalism and Religion in the Modern Middle East
Jonathan M. Gribetz
Investigates theoretical, rhetorical, and political relationships between religion and nationalism in the modern Middle East - historically and historiographically. What role did religion play in the rise of nationalist ideologies and identities in the 19th and 20th centuries? Was it a motivating force in this process or a tool to be used and abused? Was the relationship different in nationalisms that sought to cut across religious divisions? How have others dealt with these questions and what do the scholarly trends suggest? Students undertake their own research to assess this relationship in a case study of their choice.
NES 527 / COM 508 Classical Arabic Poetry
This course introduces students to the major Arabic poets and poems from the pre-Islamic period up to and including the Mamluk period. The goal of the course is twofold: to increase the ease with which students are able to read classical Arabic poetry and to expand their knowledge of the various styles, genres and their development. Besides preparing the assigned poems, students are expected each week to put together a brief biographical sketch of the poets we are reading using primary sources exclusively. (This could be done collaboratively) Advanced knowledge of Arabic required.
* All new courses, even those that will be taught repeatedly, are classified as "one-time-only" courses. The courses listed here are OTO courses likely to become permanent graduate courses.
Permanent Courses Cross-listed from Other Departments Taught by NES Faculty with Joint Appointments
REL 520 / NES 520 Approaches to Islamic Intellectual History
Muhammad Q. Zaman
This seminar provides a broad-ranging introduction to and assessment of approaches to pre-modern and modern Islamic intellectual history. How, and with what success, have scholars tried to place particular developments in their varied intellectual, political, socio-economic, and cultural contexts? What constitutes the relevant context and how should one try to mediate among competing ways of accounting for particular intellectual developments? What assumptions - historiographical, sociological, normative - have guided recent work and how do they compare with an earlier generation's scholarship? These are among the questions we address.
REL 542 / NES 542 Islamic Thought and Society, 18th-20th centuries
Muhammad Q. Zaman
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?
REL 586 / NES 586 Religious Authority in Modern Islam
Muhammad Q. Zaman
How far reaching is the "fragmentation" of religious authority in modern Islam? How have traditional religious scholars sought to rearticulate their authority in conditions of radical change? On what basis do "new religious intellectuals" make their claims to authority? How has the state shaped structures of religious authority? What is peculiar to modern Islam so far as conceptions of and contestations over religious authority are concerned? These are among the questions this seminar seeks to examine.