Reading through Howard Zinn’s article in Mother Jones, I came across this interesting part:
I received my doctorate in history at Columbia University, but my own experience made me aware that the history I learned in the university omitted crucial elements in the history of the country.
Now, he goes on to say a few things that I do not agree with, but the point he makes stands on its own: the history Columbia University still teaches omits crucial elements. Want an example? See below–Professor Joseph Massad’s syllabus from a class that is obligatory for MEALAC Majors.
Notice the one book he has the students read about Israel in its entirety: Maxime Rodinson, Israel, a Colonial Settler State? This book was published in 1973. Omitting crucial elements is right. Maybe we should get Howard Zinn to speak to the way history is being taught at Columbia today.
TOPICS IN ASIAN CIVILIZATION
Professors Bakhle and Massad
PART II –Middle East [this is taught by Professor Joseph Massad -ed.]
Schedule and Location:
Tuesdays and Thursdays 2:40-3:55
413 International Affairs Building
Instructor for Part Two:
614 Kent Hall
Office Hours: Wednesdays 2-3
This is a course in two parts. The first part deals with, broadly speaking, South Asia and the second with the Middle East. Each week we will focus on a topic or a theme of both contemporary and historical relevance. The objective of this course is to give you the basis for a comparative frame, an introduction, and entry point, that will allow you to pursue a deeper historical and critical understanding of the complexity and diversity of the two parts of the world dealt with in this class. It is not the objective of the course to give you a comprehensive history of both parts of the world under consideration. In this class, we will pay attention to gender, religion and politics in both pre-modern and modern periods. The five themes, covered over six weeks, for Middle East are the following:
(1) The beginnings of Islam and medieval Society, (2) Colonialism,
(3) Nationalism (4) Islamism (5) Gender and the Uses of Tradition.
This brief introduction to the complex mixture of culture, power and history will enable you to take more detailed courses in Middle Eastern history, politics, anthropology, sociology and so on.
Requirements for the Second half of the semester totaling 50% of your grade
1) An in-class Final exam that will involve short identifications and an essay – 20%.
2) Paper – You will be asked to write a 5 page paper on a topic/question relevant to the material covered in class. 20%
3) Section Attendance is mandatory. Attendance will be taken, there will be one or two map quizzes, your participation will be noted and all of it will count towards your grade. 10%
The books are available for purchase at Labyrinth Bookstore on 112th and Broadway. All Materials have also been placed on reserve at Butler Library.
Coursepack: A small coursepack is available for purchase at Village Copier at 112th St. and Amsterdam. One copy is on reserve at Butler Library and one copy is on reserve in the MEALAC reading room, 6th floor, Kent Hall.
PLEASE NOTE: You are expected to have completed the reading assignments for each lecture BEFORE coming to class.
Schedule of Classes
SECOND HALF – MIDDLE EAST
The Arabs and Islam
October 26: Studying the Middle East
Readings: Edward Said, Orientalism (Introduction)
October 28: Beginnings
Readings: Hourani, A History of the Arab Peoples (Chapters 1-3,
Holy Qur’an (reading –selections in course reader)
November 4: Philosophy
Readings: Hourani, A History of the Arab Peoples (Chapters 5, 9-12
[pages 83-97, 147-205])
November 9: European Empires and the Arab World
Readings: Hourani, A History of the Arab Peoples (Chapters 16-20
November 11: Algeria
Readings: Assia Djebar, Fantasia (Pages 6-8, 49-82, 130-167)
November 16: Zionism and Settler Colonialism
Readings: Maxime Rodinson, Israel, a Colonial Settler State? (Entire)
Nationalism and Islamism
November 18: Iran
Readings: Ervand Abrahamian, Iran Between Two Revolutions (pages 267-
280, 419-449, 496-537)
Assignment: Second Paper due
November 23: Arab Nationalism
Readings: Hourani, A History of the Arab Peoples (Chapters 21, 24 [pages
November 30: The Case of Saudi Arabia
Readings: As’ad Abukhalil, The Battle for Saudi Arabia (Entire)
Gender and the Uses of Tradition
December 2: Early feminists
Readings: Leila Ahmad, Women and Gender in Islam (Pages 127-188)
December 7: Women and feminism
Readings: Leila Ahmad, Women and Gender in Islam (Pages 189-248)
December 9: In-Class Final