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Haverford College

2012-13 Course Catalog

Areas of Concentration / Programs: Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, 2012-2013

DescriptionRequirementsCoordinator & FacultyCourses


The concentration in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies (MEIS) gives students basic knowledge of the Middle East and broader Muslim world, and allows students to employ discipline-specific tools for advanced work in this area. To complete the concentration, students are required to fulfill several requirements. First, they must demonstrate competence above the intermediate level in a language pertinent to their area of research (see section A, below). Second, students must take two courses in which they learn about the Middle East and Islam (see section B, below). Third, students should pursue areas of inquiry related to the Middle East and/or Islam and specific to their interests by taking four electives, at least one of which is at the 300 level (see section C, below). Examples might include anthropological approaches to the study of Islam or Middle East, the art of the Muslim world, Islam in African politics, medieval Persian history, Jihadi movements, the Iranian Revolution, modern Arabic literature, etc. Fourth, students must write a thesis in their major department that addresses Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and is approved by the Concentration Coordinator (as well as the major advisor).

We strongly encourage students with interests in the Middle East and Islam to meet with the Concentration Coordinator early in their college program (during their first and second years). We also invite students to take advantage of Haverford's study abroad programs in Egypt, Morocco and other appropriate locations to advance their work in the concentration.

An "Area of Concentration" at Haverford is designed to facilitate a student pursuing an area of study distinct from her major, but which he or she can use the disciplinary tools of the major to pursue. To that end, at least two courses, and no more than three, may fulfill both the student's major requirements and the concentration requirements. In practical terms, this means that students who want to concentrate in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies usually major in anthropology, comparative literature, history, political science, religion, or sociology. In some cases, students may find that other majors can be joined with a concentration in MEIS (for example, History of Art and Growth and Structure of Cities at Bryn Mawr are two departments that sometimes have two or three course offerings that could count for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies). Students who can demonstrate that at least two courses in their major are about Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies can petition the Concentration Coordinator and faculty to approve their major.

In addition to the Haverford Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies proposal, students may choose to concentrate in Middle East Studies at Bryn Mawr, or minor in Islamic Studies at Swarthmore. The Bryn Mawr Middle East Studies concentration has two key differences from the Haverford program: (1) they offer an option to concentrate without language work, and (2) they require study of the pre-Islamic period. The Swarthmore Islamic Studies program differs from the Haverford program in that it is a stand alone minor, rather than a concentration. Only one course in the student's major can count toward the Islamic Studies minor. Swarthmore's Islamic Studies minor can include instruction in kathak, a form of classical Indian dance.

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  1. Students interested in concentrating in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies must demonstrate competence above the intermediate level in a language pertinent to their area of research. In cases where a student has selected Arabic as his or her relevant language, this means completion of ARABB004. If a student is doing research for which another language is more appropriate, he or she may need to study at the University of Pennsylvania (Pashtu, Persian, Turkish and Swahili) or Bryn Mawr (Hebrew), or take other Haverford language classes (e.g., Chinese, French). Some study abroad programs are also suitable for gaining language competence. Students should consult with the Concentration Coordinator about the course of language study to fill this requirement.
  2. Students must complete two of the courses listed below, in two of the three departments listed below. By completing this core requirement, students gain broad exposure to the history and politics of the Middle East, and to Islam as a major world religion and social and political force that began in, and continues to be affected by, the Middle East. The core course options are:
    1. History:
      HIST 117 (Modern Mediterranean History)
      HIST 266 (Sex and Gender in the Early Modern Islamic World)
      HIST 270 (From Empire to Nation: The Ottoman World Transformed)
    2. Political Science:
      POLS 256 (The Evolution of Jihadi Movement)
      POLS 357 (Conflict in the Middle East)
    3. Religion:
      RELG 108 (Vocabularies of Islam)
      RELG 218 (The Divine Guide: An Introduction to Shi'ism)
      RELG 248 (The Qur'an)
    Students must choose from two of the three listed departments, e.g., History and Political Science, History and Religion, Political Science and Religion. Students should consult the Concentration Coordinator to ensure they fill this requirement.
  3. Students must take four elective courses in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies selected from the following Haverford departments: Anthropology; ICPR/Art History; History; Peace Justice and Human Rights; Political Science; Religion; Sociology; or Spanish/Comparative Literature. A minimum of one course must be at the 300 level (or the equivalent). Courses at Haverford that fulfill the elective requirement in MEIS include:
    • Anthropology:
      ANTH 241 (Anthropology of the Mediterranean)
      ANTH 259 (Ethnographies of Islam)
      ANTH 361 (Advanced Topics in Ethnographic Area Studies: Middle Eastern Nationalisms)
    • ICPR/Art History
      ICPR 204/PEAC 204 (Picturing War: Goya to Abu Ghraib)
      ICPR 237 (Art and Cultural Identity)
    • History
      HIST 117 (Modern Mediterranean History)
      HIST 266 (Sex and Gender in the Early Modern Islamic World)
      HIST 270 (From Empire to Nation: The Ottoman World Transformed)
    • Peace, Justice and Human Rights
      PEAC 304 (Cosmopolitanism and Toleration in Enlightenment Europe)
    • Political Science
      POLS 151 (International Politics)
      POLS 253 (Introduction to Terrorism Studies)
      POLS 256 (The Evolution of the Jihadi Movement)
      POLS 333 (International Security)
      POLS 345 (Islam, Democracy and Development)
      POLS 357 (Conflict in the Middle East)
      POLS 358 (The War on Terrorism)
    • Religion
      RELG 108 (Vocabularies of Islam)
      RELG 118 (Hebrew Bible: Literary Text and Historical Context)
      RELG 203 (The Hebrew Bible and Its Interpretations)
      RELG 212 (Jerusalem: City, History and Representation)
      RELG 218 (The Divine Guide: An Introduction of Shi'ism)
      RELG 248 (The Qur'an)
      RELG 306 (Of Monsters and Marvels: Wonder in Islamic Traditions)
      RELG 307 (Imaging Islam: Icon, Object, and Image)
      RELG 308 (Mystical Literatures of Islam)
    • /** Last edited line **/
    • Sociology
      SOCL 207 (Internal Disorder: Deviance and Revolution)
      SOCL 233 (Topics in Sociology: Islamic Modernism)
      SOCL 237 (Topics in Historical Sociology)
      SOCL 298 (Law and Sociology)
    • Spanish/Comparative Literature
      SPAN 266 (Iberian Orientalism and the Nation)
      SPAN 340 (The Moor in Spanish Literature)
  4. To fulfill their elective credit, students may select from a list of designated electives at Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore (see below), or request approval from the Concentration Coordinator to take other appropriate courses at Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore or the University of Pennsylvania’s Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Program. Students may also petition the Concentration Coordinator and MEIS faculty for approval of a course that is not on the electives list but which the student feels provides important content for his or her specific research topic.
  5. Students must write a thesis in their major department (Anthropology, History, Political Science, Religion or Sociology) that addresses Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. The Concentration Coordinator must approve this thesis topic in advance to count for the MEIS concentration. To request approval, students should submit a brief (one page) thesis proposal to the Concentration Coordinator, Barak Mendelsohn and arrange a meeting him to discuss the proposal.

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Coordinator and Faculty

The Concentration Coordinator serves as the primary faculty resource for all students interested in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. Barak Mendelsohn is the advisor for all students who choose to concentrate in MEIS. He meets with all students who have questions about the concentration, curriculum, study abroad related to the Middle East and/or Islam, language work, research internships, summer programs and other student opportunities related to this area. The coordinator organizes meetings of MEIS faculty, is the point person for events that publicize and advance the mission of the concentration (such as lectures, workshops, symposia, film screenings and artistic residencies) and ensures that student concentrators select thesis topics that are appropriate. The concentration coordinator informs himself about study abroad programs that are useful for MEIS concentrators and works with the Dean of Global Affairs to help students select programs and ensure that the College maintains sufficient study abroad opportunities to support the concentration. The concentration coordinator maintains the MEIS website.

MEIS faculty introduce students to the concentration. When appropriate, MEIS faculty will talk about the concentration in their classes and about events that support the concentration. MEIS faculty consult with the Barak Mendelsohn about the program, including curriculum, expansion positions, summer opportunities for students, language study and pertinent programs at other area institutions that support the concentration.

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FALL 2012

ANTH 316 Gender & Sexuality in the Middle East

Zainab Saleh

ICPR 204 Picturing War: Goya to Abu Ghraib

Carol Solomon

POLS 253 Introduction to Terrorism Studies

Barak Mendelsohn

POLS 357 International Relations Theory: Conflict and the Middle East

Barak Mendelsohn

RELG 108 Vocabularies of Islam

Jamel Velji

RELG 303 Seminar B: Religion and Translation

Travis Zadeh


HIST 117 Modern Mediterranean History

Alexander Kitroeff

POLS 151 International Politics

Barak Mendelsohn

RELG 212 Jerusalem: City, History and Representation

Naomi Koltun-Fromm

RELG 218 The Divine Guide: an Introduction to Shi’ism

Travis Zadeh

RELG 306 Of Monsters and Marvels: Wonder in Islamic Traditions

Travis Zadeh

MEIS Approved Elective Courses at Swarthmore:

FREN 045 France and the Maghreb: Postcolonial Writing in a Transnational Context
HIST 006A Formation of the Islamic Near East
HIST 006B The Modern Middle East
HIST 025 Colonialism and Nationalism in the Arab Middle East
HIST 018 Cities of the Middle East
HIST 111 Christians, Muslims and Jews in the Medieval Mediterranean
LITR 076 Female Authors from the Arab World
RELG 008 The Qur’an and its Interpreters
RELG 119 Islamic Law and Society
RELG 053 Gender, Sexuality, and the Body in Islamic Discourses
RELG 054 Power and Authority in Modern Islam
SOAN 009 Cultures of the Middle East

MEIS Approved Elective Courses at Bryn Mawr:

ANTH 261 Palestine and Israeli Society
ANTH 275 Cultures and Societies of the Middle East
ANTH 276 Islam in Europe
ANTH 382 Religious Fundamentalism in the Global Era
CITY 248 Modern Middle East Cities
GNST 158 Themes in Middle Eastern Society
HART 212 Medieval Architecture: Islamic Cities
HEBR 110 Israeli Cinema
HEBR 283 Introduction to the Politics of the Modern Middle East and North Africa
HIST 283 Introduction to the Politics of the Modern Middle East and North Africa
HIST 288 The Political Economy of the Middle East and North Africa
POLS 282 The Exotic Other: Gender and Sexuality in the Middle East
POLS 383 Two Hundred Years of Islamic Reform, Radicalism, and Revolution

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