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NES Graduate Courses

Department of Near Eastern Studies
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 501 Departmental Seminar
A seminar exploring the design and conceptualization of a dissertation topic, and examining methods and strategies for research.
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 rika scripts.
NES 507 Readings in Talmudic Literature
A critical study of selected texts from the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmuds. Topics vary and may include sources of Jewish law and rabbinic authority, the development of the Talmudic sugya, halakhic differences between the Talmuds, and the project of historical reconstruction on the basis of rabbinic texts.
NES 508 Readings in Medieval Hebrew Literature
Readings of selected texts in medieval Hebrew literature. Topics include narrative works of historical interest, the poetry of the Golden Age in Spain, and Biblical commentaries and their introductions.
NES 509 Readings in Modern Hebrew Literature
Themes in modern Hebrew prose and poetry, such as pluralism in Israeli society, Israeli-Arab coexistence, and land and nature. Readings are selected from works of S. Y. Agnon, Leah Goldberg, Rachel, Amos Oz, A. B. Yehoshua, and others.
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 521, 522 Readings in Classical Arabic Historians and Biographers
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 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 529 Readings in Modern Arabic Literature
Selected topics in the fiction, poetry, and theater of the Arab world from the late 19th century to the present. The content varies according to the interests of the students and the instructor.
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 533 Syriac Hagiography
Literary and historical questions surrounding Syriac hagiographical texts of the late antique period are explored. The course focuses on three writings to be studied in their entirety in the course of the semester. Knowledge of Syriac required.
NES 539, 540 Studies in Persian Literature 900–1800
Michael Barry 
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 551 Middle Eastern Religion-State Relations in Comparative Perspective
This course examines different models of religion-state constellations in the Middle East of the 20th century. It offers an overview of the main patterns of constitutional religion-state relations (established religion, cooperation, separation of religion and state, regulation of the majority and minority religions), explores the implications of these models for the stability of political power and examines the use of religious rhetoric, symbolisms and the reference to religious norms by state and non-state actors.
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
Hossein Modarressi
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
Hossein Modarressi
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 557, 558 Problems in Islamic History
Topics in Islamic history, with reading of relevant source material. The theme varies from year to year.
NES 561, 562 Studies in Modern Arab History
Bernard Haykel
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 564 Islamic Africa Before 1900: Problems in Social and Cultural History
This course surveys the impact of Islam upon pre-Islamic institutions and the evolution of Islamic institutions (jihad, alms-giving, prayer, and others) in the African milieu.
NES 565 The Arabic Literature of Islamic Africa
The evolution of Islamic scholarship as revealed in the Arabic writings of sub-Saharan African Muslims from the 16th to the 19th century.
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 568 Studies in Modern Iran  
Select topics in the history of Iran since the late 18th century
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 572 Problems in Ottoman History
Topics vary from year to year, but the course concentrates on issues in Ottoman institutional, intellectual, and political history.
NES 573 Problems in Late Ottoman and Modern Republican Turkish History
Select topics in the intellectual, diplomatic, social, and political history of the Ottoman Empire and Turkish Republic from 1800 to the present.