Middle East Studies

Spring 2024 Courses


MES 0100 The Middle East: Cultures & Societies
Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 10:00am-10:50am
Professor: Alex Winder 

This course highlights major cultural, social, and political developments in the amorphous region known, since the 20th century, as the Middle East. Covering expanses of space and time, this course attends to a diversity of peoples and polities and considers different regional concepts that include some or all of the territories normally included in the Middle East (including the Fertile Crescent, the Mediterranean world, the Indian Ocean world, the Arab world, and the Muslim world) and addresses the region's coherence in terms of shared historical and political experiences, religious and cultural references or practices, and/or socialities and ways of being.

MES 1111 The Modern Middle East: Struggles for Power and Justice
Tuesday, Thursday 2:30pm-3:50pm 
Professor: Alex Winder 

This course is an introduction to the modern Middle East, spanning from the 18th century to the present. It focuses on struggles—individual and collective—for power and justice. At times, these struggles overlap: when groups seek to overthrow the existing authority and install a more just one in its place. Other times, they diverge: when groups or individuals seize power for their own interests, or seek justice by reforming the existing order (rather than toppling it). These struggles illuminate the shifting material and ideological conditions within the Middle East over the past three centuries or so: in other words, over what are people struggling, and why? By focusing on struggles for power and justice, this course emphasizes the Middle East as a dynamic region shaped by numerous stakeholders and challengers, rather than a space with an essential or homogenous character.

MES 1171 Ethics and Politics of Intimacy in the Middle East
Tuesday, Thursday 9:00am-10:20am
Professor: Mehrdad Babadi 

Intimacy is often a synonym for proximate, close relations, connected with the interior and the personal: sexual and romantic relations. It is associated with private embodied life, the realm of psychology, desires and emotions. Intimacy as an analytical concept in social sciences draws on these micro-level (private) meanings, but also introduces macro-level (public) socio-economic, cultural, and political dimensions, including power relations. This course explores the ethics and politics of intimacy in contemporary Middle Eastern societies. We examine these transformations in a comparative manner, including various countries (Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE, etc.), though Iran will be our main geographical focus. We will discuss marriage, family, kinship, gender, and sexuality and evaluate the impact of modernity, globalization, capitalism, and individualism on shifting notions of romantic love and companionate marriage in Muslim societies.

MES 1221 Palestine: A Comparative Ethnic Studies Approach 
Wednesday, 3pm-5:30pm
Professor: Loubna Qutami 

This course examines Palestine and the Palestinians through interdisciplinary ethnic studies optics and frameworks. The course begins by examining the Palestinian struggle from a historical and geographically contextual lens. It then engages the question of Palestine from an ethnic studies approach centering theories and ideas on indigenous sovereignty; transnational social movements; racial carcerality; sexual and gender politics, displacement and refugee-hood; apartheid and international law. We will also examine Palestinian relationships with communities and causes of the global South in the past and present. Students with background training in Middle East Studies, ethnic studies, and/or gender and sexuality studies are especially encouraged to enroll in this course. Students interested in interdisciplinary and intersectional approaches to Middle East and ethnic studies are also encouraged to enroll.

MES 1198 Reflections on "The Jewish Question" 
Monday, 3:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Professor: Adi Ophir

In the mid-19th century, “the Jewish Question” became a galvanizing topic of debate among European thinkers with diverse political and theological orientations. In the wake of the French Revolution, and in an era of “questions” of minorities of all kinds, kindled by ideas of emancipation and equality, “the Jewish Question” centered on promoting or blocking Jewish “assimilation” and was driven by interpretations of Jewish otherness, the possibility of its transformation, and its meaning as a metonym for/a symptom of a secularized civil society. The goal of this seminar is to become acquainted with the history of “the Jewish Question” to reframe it for the contemporary historical moment; to do so without adopting the terms of the 19th century’s Question; and to understand the ways and meaning of asking “the Question” today without necessarily offering it any "solutions."



ARAB 0200 First-Year Arabic (Alla Hassan)
ARAB 0400 Second-Year Arabic (Miled Faiza)
ARAB 0600 Third-Year Arabic (Miled Faiza)
ARAB 0800 Advanced Arabic: Language & Culture through Cinema (Elsa Belmont Flores)


HEBR 0200 Elementary Hebrew (Ruth Adler Ben Yehuda)
HEBR 0400 Intermediate Hebrew (Ruth Adler Ben Yehuda)
HEBR 0600 Issues in Contemporary Israeli Society, Politics, and Culture in Hebrew (David Jacobson)


PRSN 0105 Accelerated Persian (Michelle Quay)
PRSN 0200 Basic Persian (Michelle Quay)
PRSN 0600 Advanced Persian Language and Culture II (Michelle Quay)


TKSH 0200 Introduction to Turkish (Esra Ozdemir)
TKSH 0400 Intermediate Turkish II (Esra Ozdemir)


For courses that may count towards electives, meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies to discuss

Archaeology and the Ancient World

ARCH 0150 Introduction to Egyptian Archaeology and Art (Laurel Bestock)
ARCH 2635 An Empire without Bounds: The Roman Empire in Its ‘Global’ Context (Tyler Franconi) 
ARCH 2725 The Making of Egypt (Laurel Bestock)


ASYR 1100 Imagining the Gods: Myths and Myth-making in Ancient Mesopotamia (Matthew Rutz)
ASYR 2120 Historiography of Exact Sciences (John Steele) Graduate Seminar


EGYT 1320 Introduction to Classical Hieroglyphic Egyptian Writing and Language (Middle Egyptian II) (Christelle Alvarez)

French and Francophone Studies 

FREN1070L Islam, Immigration, and National Identity in the French Contemporary Novel (Maan Alsahoui) WRIT

Gender and Sexuality Studies

GNSS 1962B Woman*, Life, Freedom: Global Feminist Liberation Movements  (Sarah Afshar) RPP | WRIT

History of Art and Architecture

HIAA 1415 Beyond Kitsch and Colonialism: Islamic Art in the 19th Century (Margaret Graves)
HIAA 1010 Cultural Heritage in Crisis (Margaret Graves)


HIST 1457 Understanding the Palestinians (Beshara Doumani) RPP | WRIT
HIST 1969A Israel-Palestine: Lands and Peoples I (Omer Bartov) RPP | WRIT

Judaic Studies

JUDS 1711 History of the State of Israel: 1948 to the Present (Rachel Rojanski) WRIT

Modern Culture and Media

MCM 1504R Iranian Cinema (Joan Copjec)

Religious Studies

RELS 0420 Sacred Bodies (Susan Harvey)
RELS 0600 Contestations Within Political Islam (Suvaid Yaseen)
RELS 1330A The Life and Afterlives of the Apostle Paul (Jae Han)
RELS 2400D Islamic Pasts and Futures (Shahzad Bashir)


SOC 1155 Borderlands (Lisa Dicarlo) 


MES 1198 Reflections on "The Jewish Question" (Adi Ophir)
HIST 1457 Understanding the Palestinians  (Beshara Doumani)
HIST 1969A Israel-Palestine: Lands and Peoples I (Omer Bartov)

*This course is not yet listed on Courses@Brown. 


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