2008-09 Catalog

Decorative graphic

Program Description

(Re)Imagining the Middle East

Revised Last Updated: 02/24/2009

Fall, Winter and Spring quarters

Faculty: Therese Saliba Middle East studies, international feminism, Suzanne Simons (FW) Middle East studies, media studies, Savvina Chowdhury political economy

Faculty Signature Required: Winter quarter

Major areas of study include Middle East Studies, women's/gender studies, journalism and media studies, community studies, international studies, religion, history, politics, social movements, political economy, multicultural film and literature.

Class Standing: Sophomores or above; transfer students welcome.

Accepts Winter Enrollment: This program will accept new students who have appropriate background. Contact faculty at Academic Fair or by email. New students should expect to complete some catch-up work during the December break.

Revised prerequisites: Priority will be given to students with previous work in Middle East Studies or International Studies, Political Economy, History, and/or Cultural Studies (including Religious and/or Media Studies), but students new to these areas may also contact the faculty for consideration. We prefer that students talk with us at the Academic Fair, but if this isn't possible, please contact Therese Saliba. Students should write a short paragraph about their interest in the program and prior related studies in the area. Some new students may be eligible for study abroad to Egypt and Jordan in Spring ($5300). Students must read at least one foundational text from Fall quarter over winter break, along with a new text for Winter quarter. They will also conduct an oral history over winter break.

For roughly 1,000 years, Islamic dynasties of the Middle East were dominant world powers. Largely through peaceful co-existence with other cultures, they exported world-changing religious movements, intellectual thought, and great advances in the arts and sciences, ultimately sparking the European Renaissance. Yet in the past 200 years, Europe and the United States have politically, economically and culturally dominated a Middle East marked by conflict and turmoil.

This program will examine the Middle East, past and present, through literary and media representations from Morocco to Iran. In the process, we will learn about the histories, cultures, literatures, religions, and contemporary political and economic developments in the region. In fall quarter, we will focus on the history of cultural contact and exchange between “East” and “West,” examining how these relations have shaped present (mis)perceptions of the peoples, their religions, politics and gender roles. Our goal is to move beyond the “clash of civilizations” thesis to understand how historical developments, from the Arab-Islamic and Ottoman empires, to European colonialism and U.S. empire, have shaped this region, often defined as the cradle of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In this U.S. presidential election season, we will examine mass media coverage of the Middle East, and the relationship between media, foreign policy and public opinion.

In winter quarter, our case studies will examine the relationships between socio-economic issues, such as oil, water rights, economic development, tourism, and environmental impacts, and political conflicts, such as the U.S. and Iraq/Iran, Israel and the Palestinians, Turkey and the Kurds, and the destruction of indigenous communities. We will investigate the connections between religion, nationalism, liberation movements, gender relations and ethnic/religious minorities, and examine how recent developments in the global economy and the U.S. “war on terrorism” are influencing struggles for human rights, women’s rights and democracy in the region.

Our analysis and knowledge will be developed through various analytic texts, oral histories, literature, film and journalism. We will work on developing skills in interviewing, and various types of writing, such as expository, fiction, poetry, travel writing and journalism. We will consult with community organizations connected to the region through religious, political and cultural ties to better understand the potential for advocacy that links communities. We will also analyze the role of the United Nations, governments, non-governmental organizations and solidarity projects as we work to understand local and global connections to the region.

During spring quarter, students will have the option of traveling to Egypt and Jordan for further study, and to work with non-governmental organizations. For those not traveling, the program will focus on contemporary remappings of the Middle East by studying diaspora communities, including their literature and film. Students may also have the opportunity to work with local religious communities, refugees, media or solidarity projects.

A 12 credit option is available to students who wish to study Arabic concurrently with this program. Please consult with the faculty to discuss this option.

Credits: 16 per quarter

Enrollment: 75 Fall, 75 Winter and 50 Spring

Internship Possibilities: Spring only with faculty approval.

Books: www.tescbookstore.com

Special Expenses: $75 per quarter fall and winter for conference fees and field trips. Approximately $5200 in spring for a 7-week optional study abroad in Jordan and Egypt.

Program is preparatory for careers and future studies in education, journalism, international studies, social science, media studies, economic development, women's advocacy, international or community non-governmental organizations, social justice advocacy and writing.

Planning Units: Culture, Text and Language, Society, Politics, Behavior and Change

Program Revisions

Date Revision
May 2nd, 2008 Char Simons and Savvina Chowdhury have joined the faculty team for this program.
May 13th, 2008 The special expenses have changed to reflect current anticipated costs of the study abroad portion of the program.
November 17th, 2008 Winter quarter enrollment details added.
November 24th, 2008 Additional Winter quarter enrollment details added.
November 25th, 2008 Winter enrollment field utilized.
February 24th, 2009 Char Simons has left the team to teach related program Immigrant Voices.