Simpson, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of U.S. History and Foreign
Hist 355C The United States and the Middle East
Time: MW 2:30-3:45
Instructor: Brad Simpson
Office: Admin 718; Office Phone: 455-2042
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Office Hours: MW 12:30-2pm
Course Description: Who and what has most influenced United States foreign relations with the peoples and states of the Middle East during the twentieth century? How did the U.S. respond to anti-colonial and nationalist movements? Why the close relationship with Israel? How has the U.S. related to Islamic parties and movements? Why does the U.S. keep intervening in the Middle East, and with what results? This course will explore these and other questions. It will look at America's rise to global power in the region; Woodrow Wilson and self-determination; the Arab-Israeli conflict; superpower rivalry; decolonization and nationalism; oil; Islamic revivalism; cultural exchange and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and other topics. We will also seek deeper explanations for the resentment and mistrust with which many Middle Easterners have come to regard American policy.
Learning Method: Students will learn from working collaboratively to explore important central questions using recent scholarship and evidence, understanding and evaluating arguments they hear in class, constructing arguments, drawing conclusions, defending those conclusions, and receiving feedback on their thinking. With a few significant developments, students will use case methods to explore some of the challenges U.S. officials faced in understanding a complicated world and to play advisors.
Some Questions We Will Explore:
You will want to purchase:
Melanie McAllister, Epic Encounters: Culture, Media, and U.S. Interests in the Middle East since 1945
Mehran Kamrava, The Modern Middle East: A Political History since the First World War
Peter Hahn, Crisis and Crossfire: The United States and the Middle East Since 1945
David Farber, Taken Hostage: The Iran Hostage Crisis and America's First Encounter with Radical Islam
Next you will want to go to the Blackboard site for this class. Almost all other readings and case studies will be available on blackboard in Adobe PDF format and can be accessed by going to the "Course Documents" section and clicking on each week's readings.
Resources for Studying the Middle East
What Does the Course Promise You? This class will consider some of the most controversial questions of twentieth century U.S. and international history. You will read scholars debating scholars and learn to analyze disagreements and agreements in a systematic manner. You should emerge from the course with a better understanding of some of the major developments of the twentieth century, events that have shaped all of our lives. You should emerge also with an enhanced ability to analyze arguments and to make tentative judgments about other people's judgments. Ideally, the course will help you become a more critically intelligent, creative, and curious person, capable of making rational decisions based on extensive and accurate information.
Reading and Discussing Your goal is to develop a thorough knowledge and understanding of the thesis, arguments, and major pieces of evidence of the major interpretations we encounter; to be able to determine the ways in which these interpretations agree and disagree; to make well reasoned evaluations of those interpretations; and to develop some well reasoned, albeit tentative, conclusions of your own (with supporting evidence and arguments).
Learning Opportunities: to achieve the promises of this course you will write five short papers, a midterm, and a take home final exam exploring an important historical question about U.S. relations with the Middle East. You will also participate actively in class discussion and engage with your peers in occasional online discussions on Blackboard.
Class Participation: Your involvement with the class is extremely important. I will try to make class time valuable. You should come to every class and plan to participate. If you do not find class valuable, please let me know. Please do not simply skip class. If you already know you will miss more than one or two classes this term, you probably should not take this class this quarter. If you miss class more than twice, I will probably assume that you are no longer taking the class and I will drop you from the class. It is essential that everyone in the class attend all discussion and case study days.
Technology in the classroom: Please turn off all cell phones before entering the classroom. If your cell phone rings, I will answer it. Please do not bring your computer if you do not intend to use if for taking notes. This means no checking email, myspace, youtube, playing games or anything else. Students found using their computers for non-class related activities will be asked to leave; more than once and they will be dropped from the course.
By enrolling in this course, each student assumes the responsibilities of an active participant in UMBC's scholarly community in which everyone's academic work and behavior are held to the highest standards of honesty. Cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, and helping others to commit these acts are all forms of academic dishonesty, and they are wrong. Academic misconduct could result in disciplinary action that may include, but is not limited to, suspension or dismissal. To read the full Student Academic Conduct Policy, consult the UMBC Student Handbook, the Faculty Handbook, or the UMBC Policies section of the UMBC Directory [or for graduate courses, the Graduate School. Students can read about these policies at: http://www.umbc.edu/provost/integrity/students.html
The final grade will assess each student's ability--as reflected in written and oral work--to draw and defend historical conclusions, to think historically, and to apply that thinking to the issues raised in the course. This will break down along the following lines:
Short Papers: 25%
Class and Online Discussion: 15%
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