Course Offerings

Spring 2020

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

Pillage, Peddling and Piety: Travel in the Middle Ages

HIST 226 - Vise, Melissa E.

Perhaps contrary to expectation, Medieval people traveled extensively for trade and profit, pilgrimage and piety, conquest and gain, and even for pleasure. These motives cut across the cultures of the medieval world to encompass Muslims, Christians, and Jews and led these people to places both proximate to and far distant from Europe. We explore the medieval world as a world that moved. To that end, in addition to some more traditional academic exercises, students create a group mapping project using a host of digital tools that can communicate movement, exchange, and interaction. Topics include pilgrimage, trade, economic systems, holy war, gender, race, and chivalry.

History Compounded: ExperienceEgypt

MESA 252 - Edwards, Anthony (Antoine)

An exploration of the social, religious, historical, and political foundations of the Arab Republic of Egypt. Based in Cairo, a.k.a. "Omm ed-Duniya (Mother of the World)", students study the complex dynamics of state, culture, and society from a historical perspective. This course uses multiple academic lenses to understand the manifold pasts, interpret the ever-changing present, and speculate about possible futures of contemporary Egypt.

Special Topics in Religion

REL 195 - Chalmers, Matthew J.

A course offered from time to time in a selected problem or topic in religion. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Spring 2020, REL 195-01: From Anti-Judaism to Anti-Semitism (3). In this course, we encounter and analyze the forms and histories of anti-Jewishness. The course tracks from Judaeophobia in the ancient world to anti-Semitism in the contemporary world, with a focus on three moments: first, the Mediterranean world at the birth of Christian empire; second, the Holocaust in historical and ideological context; and third, anti-Semitism in America, from Henry Ford's anti-Semitic conspiracy theories to the Pittsburgh Tree of Life shooting. In the process we ask some hard questions. What is the connection between anti-Semitism and racial thought? What is the difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism? How does Christian religion intersect with anti-Semitism? How have Jewish people responded to hostility and attack, and how has suffering and loss been memorialized? (HU) Chalmers.

Meditation and Self-Knowledge

REL 333 - Lubin, Timothy (Tim)

For 2,500 years, Hindus and Buddhists have promoted meditation as a means to attain insight and liberation from suffering, a state sometimes understood in terms of divinity or Buddha-nature. Meditation has also been adopted by some in the West during the last century, often for psychological or physical benefits apart from any devotional context. What had traditionally been a practice of ordained monks was popularized in the West, a trend that then caught on in Asia as well. We look at the origins of meditative practices in Asian traditions using primary sources, social context, and personal experience of basic meditative techniques. The course concludes by noting that some contemporary neuroscientists are looking to meditation to better understand mind, brain, emotion, and cognition.

Winter 2020

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

First-Year Arabic II

ARAB 112 - Shehata, Asmaa

This course builds communicative skills in written and spoken Arabic, emphasizing foundational grammar and speaking. Continued introduction to cultural practices of the Arab world.

Second-Year Arabic II

ARAB 162 - Shehata, Asmaa

A continuation of Second-Year Arabic focused on speaking and writing, in addition to listening comprehension and reading. Increased familiarization with popular Arab culture.


Arabic Dialects

ARAB 225 - Edwards, Anthony (Antoine)

Taught in Arabic. An introduction to three Arabic dialects, in particular those used in Morocco, Egypt, and the Emirates. Students learn the sounds, key vocabulary, and sentence structures particular to these dialects, and develop their listening comprehension abilities and communication skills. This practical course is designed to prepare students to engage in authentic interactions with Arabic speakers in North Africa and the Middle East.

Ancient Cultures, New Markets: Modern and Contemporary Asian Art

ARTH 245 - Kerin, Melissa R.

Meets simultaneously with ARTH 394B-01. Students may not register or receive credit for both. This course examines the art movements of the last one hundred years from India, China, Tibet, and Japan primarily through the lenses of the larger sociopolitical movements that informed much of Asia's cultural discourses: Colonialism, Post-Colonialism, Socialism, Communism, and Feminism. We also address debates concerning "non-Western" 20th-century art as peripheral to the main canons of Modern and Contemporary art. By the end of the course, students have created a complex picture of Asian art/artists, and have engaged broader concepts of transnationalism, as well as examined the roles of galleries, museums, and auction houses in establishing market value and biases in acquisition practices.

Health Economics in Developing Countries

ECON 276 - Blunch, Niels-Hugo (Hugo)

A survey of the major issues of health economics. with a focus on developing countries (although the issues are also relevant for developed countries, including the U.S. Economic modeling of health-related issues, supply and demand of health, cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analysis, health goals, and policy alternatives. Economic epidemiology, including HIV/AIDS. Selected case studies. Group project, where the group selects a developing country for which a policy proposal is then developed for a health-related policy issue of the group's choice.

The World of Islam: 1500 to the Present

HIST 171 - Atanasova, Kameliya N.

This course surveys the political, social, and cultural history of the Islamic World from the 16th to 21st centuries, with particular attention paid to the diverse experiences of the various regions that make up the Islamic world. Topics include the emergence of the early modern centralizing states in Iran, Turkey, India, and elsewhere; the spread of Islamic religious and political practices in Africa and Asia; the colonial and post-colonial confrontation between the Islamic World and Europe; and the evolution of new political, cultural, and intellectual movements as Muslim nations in the context of globalization.

History of the Caucasus and Central Asia

HIST 280 - Bidlack, Richard H. (Rich)

The peoples who inhabit the Caucasus Mountains region and Central Asia are extraordinarily diverse in their history, culture, language, and religion. The area has been a crossroads of civilizations for centuries, and comprises present-day southern Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan. Students study how the Caucasus region and Central Asia have developed from early-recorded history to the present, through close reading and discussion of scholarly texts and primary sources. Students also write an analytical essay from a range of assigned topics and a research paper on a topic of their own choosing.

Language Policies and Politics

MESA 255 - Edwards, Anthony (Antoine)

t.An examination of language policies in North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia (broadly defined). Students are introduced to the concepts and theories involved in language planning and policy (LPP) and discuss topics such as the legal status of language(s); linguistic rights; language attitudes and ideologies; language in education; language standardization; multilingualism and nationalism; and language endangerment. Students investigate the factors that govern and influence different LPPs through a series of case studies from the MESA region.

Capstone in Middle East and South Asia Studies

MESA 393 - Lubin, Timothy (Tim)

Capstone project. Independent research project on a topic in Middle East and South Asia studies, under the guidance of a faculty adviser, including regular individual meetings and at least four group workshops, culminating in a formal presentation of the finished project to MESA faculty and students.


POL 274 - Cantey, Joseph M., Jr. (Seth)

The principal goal of this course is to help students understand the complexities of contemporary terrorism. We discuss definitional issues, the historical roots of modern terrorism, and various micro- and macro-explanations for this form of violence. We also investigate the life cycles of terrorist groups: How do they emerge? What kinds of organizational challenges do they face? How do they end? Other topics include leaderless movements (e.g., "lone wolves") and state sponsorship. Throughout the course, students observe that terrorism is not a phenomenon unique to one class of people. The course ends with three weeks focused on a certain kind of terrorism which some have called violent Islamic extremism.

New Testament

REL 102 - Chalmers, Matthew J.

An introduction to the history, literature and interpretation of the New Testament.


REL 131 - Lubin, Timothy (Tim)

A survey of the historical development of the doctrines and practices of Buddhism. After a discussion of the Hindu origins of Buddhism, the course focuses on the development of the Theravada, Vajrayana and Mahayana traditions. A class trip to at least one Buddhist center is included.

Gender, Sexuality, and Islam

REL 284 - Atanasova, Kameliya N.

How have issues of gender and sexuality in Medieval and Modern Islamic societies been debated across the Middle East, South Asia, and the West? Students examine scholarly and public discussions of gender and Islam, and they build a vocabulary in which to talk about women. queer, and intersex history as they concern Muslim societies and their foundational sources in their regional and historical contexts. No prior knowledge of Islam is necessary.

Fall 2019

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

First-Year Arabic I

ARAB 111 - Shehata, Asmaa

An introductory course in written and spoken Arabic, focusing on basic grammar and speaking. Aspects of Arab culture introduced.

Second-Year Arabic I

ARAB 161 - Edwards, Anthony (Antoine)

Building on basic grammar and vocabulary knowledge, this course emphasizes speaking and writing, as well as listening comprehension and reading. Students introduced with popular Arab culture.

Third-Year Arabic I

ARAB 211 - Shehata, Asmaa

This course expands on grammar concepts and vocabulary knowledge with practical applications of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Social and political aspects of Arab culture are introduced.

Special Topics in Arabic Literature and Culture

ARAB 395A - Edwards, Anthony (Antoine)

An advanced seminar on a particular author, period, or genre. Topics may include Arab Short Stories, Classical Arabic Poetry, Travelogues in Arabic Literature, Arabic Pop Culture and Music, and Arabic Media. The subject changes annually. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Fall 2019, ARAB 395A-01: Special Topic in Arabic Literature and Culture: Shabab Talk (3). Prerequisite: ARAB 211 or instructor consent. An advanced-level Arabic language course about shabab (youth) and the political, social, and religious issues that they face in the 21st-century Arabic-speaking world. Hosted by Jaafar Abdul Karim and television on DW Arabia, Shabab Talk is an Arabic, talk show addressing topics such as women's rights, homosexuality, unemployment, politics, and atheism. Students watch episodes of Shabab Talk and develop their linguistic and analytical abilities in order to engage critically with these discourses. Students continue to improve their Arabic skills in listening comprehension, speaking, writing, and reading and broaden their cultural understanding of the region, specifically from the perspective of their peers: the Arab shabab . Edwards.

Asian Art

ARTH 140 - Kerin, Melissa R.

A survey of artistic traditions from South (including the Himalayan region), East, and Southeast Asia from roughly the 1st to the 18th centuries CE. The course focuses on a wide range of media - including architecture, sculpture, painting, textiles, and book arts - that serve a spectrum of religious and secular functions. The broad temporal, geographic, and topical scope of this course is meant to provide students with a basic understanding of not only the greatest artistic achievements and movements in Asia, but also the historical and political contexts that gave rise to these extraordinary pieces of art.

Arts of India

ARTH 242 - Kerin, Melissa R.

This course explores the artistic traditions of India from the earliest extant material evidence of the Indus Valley Civilization (circa 2500 BCE) to the elaborate painting and architectural traditions of the Mughal period (circa 16th - 18th centuries). The course analyzes the religious and ritual uses of temples, paintings, and sculptures, as well as their political role in expressing imperial ideologies.

The World of Islam: Origins to 1500

HIST 170 - Atanasova, Kameliya N.

This course surveys the political, social, and cultural history of the Islamic World from the 7th to 15th centuries, with particular attention paid to the diverse geographical and cultural contexts in which pre-modern Islamic civilization flourished. Topics include the origins of Islam in late Antiquity; the development of Islamic religious, political, and cultural institutions; the flourishing of medieval Islamic education, science, and literature; the tension among state, ethnic, sectarian, and global Muslim identities; and the emergence of a distinctly Muslim approach to historiography.

Seminar in Middle Eastern Politics

POL 384 - Cantey, Joseph M., Jr. (Seth)

This course examines contemporary politics in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Topics include the role of colonial legacies in state formation, the region's democratic deficit, nationalism, sectarianism, and the influence of religion in politics. We explore inter- and intrastate conflict, including the use of terrorism, economic development and underdevelopment, and the recent Arab uprisings (commonly referred to as the Arab Spring). Throughout, we consider why the Middle East attracts as much attention from policymakers and scholars as it does, how analysts have studied the region across time and space, and why understanding different cultural perspectives is critical to understanding the region.

Hebrew Bible/Old Testament

REL 101 - Chalmers, Matthew J.

An introduction to the history, literature and interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament).

Special Topics in Religion

REL 195A - Chalmers, Matthew J.

A course offered from time to time in a selected problem or topic in religion. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Fall 2019, REL 195A-01: Special Topic: Corporeal Religion: The Body in Judaism (3). Bodies matter. This is true for Jewish identity as well, both in terms of traditional practices (such as circumcision and menstrual impurity) and body-related discourses (like the process by which American Jews became racially white). This course explores the traditions and practices of Jewish life, as well as the problems and possibilities of Jewish identities, through a specific focus on the body: how it has been perceived, how it has been targeted for violence, how it has been shaped and formed within Jewish tradition, and how it intersects with race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and religion. (HU) Chalmers.

Law and Religion

REL 222 - Lubin, Timothy (Tim)

Drawing on examples from diverse periods and legal cultures, this seminar addresses "law" and "religion" as two realms of life that have much shared history and continue to intersect in the modern world. Several important topics in comparative law and jurisprudence are covered, including authority and legitimacy, the relation between custom and statute, legal pluralism, church-state relations, and competing models of constitutional secularism. A selective survey of legal systems and practices rooted in particular religious traditions is followed by an examination of how secular legal systems conceptualize religion and balance the protection of religious freedom with their standards of equity and neutrality.

Sufism: Islamic Mysticism

REL 283 - Atanasova, Kameliya N.

This course explores the mystical expressions and institutions known as Sufism within the Islamic community. Topics include the elaboration of Sufism from the core tenets of Islam; Sufi practices of ecstasy and discipline; the artistic and literary products of the Sufi experience; the institutions of Sufi orders, saints, shrines, and popular practices; and the debates among Muslims over the place of Sufism within the greater tradition of Islam.