Recent scholarship has increasingly focused upon the importance of collective memory in the shaping of modern (and ancient) identities. This advanced seminar will investigate the function of history and memory in the modern Middle East, looking at its interaction with various tensions: religion/secularism (Turkey and Iran), Arab nationalism/particularism (Iraq, Egypt, and Lebanon), and diaspora/nationhood (Israel and the Palestinians). Students will develop a better understanding of how individuals and states have remembered, shaped, and fabricated memories and histories to promote various agendæ, while uncovering trends and similarities that underline their actions and their goals. This course concludes by analysing contemporary developments and discussing collective memory as it applies to the Middle East in the coming decades.
As an advanced seminar, this course demands a high level of individual participation, inside and outside the classroom. Each student will have the opportunity to lead a classroom discussion revolving around the assigned readings. In addition, each week’s topic (covering two classes) will require a considerable amount of reading (150 to 200 pages). Students will be evaluated on the basis of three factors: (1) participation (35%), (2) seminar presentation (25%), and (3) a final research paper (40%). Given the importance of discussion, students are expected to have read the assigned reading in advance of each class. Recommended readings are not required, but are offered for those seeking further depth, as a starting point for research papers, and as a highly-encouraged resource for those presenting. At the end of this course, it is hoped that students will have not only a better understanding of the discourse of history and memory in general and in the contemporary Middle East, but have developed better research skills, practiced critical thinking, and gained experience collecting and presenting information clearly.