Middle East Related Courses

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Middle East-Related Courses, Spring 2019

Note: Course lists are provided as a courtesy to students and are not exhaustive. Please contact the relevant department for any questions about registration.  

Middle Eastern Studies

MESTU H195: Honors in Middle Eastern Studies

4 Units|M|2:00 pm – 4:59 pm|Dwinelle 279

This course is the second of a two-semester senior honors program and culminates in the completion of a senior thesis. The thesis project begins with 102, which must be successfully completed before enrollment in H195. During this semester, an honors thesis of approximately 50-75 pages is completed under the direct supervision of the instructor of the Honors seminar program in International and Area Studies and a faculty member appropriate to the student’s interest.

Global Studies

GLOBAL 110M: Middle East in Global Context

3 Units|M, W|5:00 pm – 6:29 pm|Hearst Field Annex B5

This course provides Global Studies majors with an introduction to the Middle East region, broadly defined. It takes an interdisciplinary approach, joining the fields of history, political science, anthropology, religious studies, economics, and Middle Eastern studies. Students will be introduced to major historical themes in the study of Middle Eastern societies that are relevant in understanding contemporary intellectual debates and the origins, nature, and trajectory of war and peace in the region. Focusing on the 20th century, the course explores how the modern Middle East evolved politically, socially, and economically into a region burdened by webs of power and influence.

Near Eastern Studies

NESTUD R1B: Reading and Composition in Near Eastern Studies

4 Units|Tu,Th|12:30 pm – 1:59 pm|Barrows 271

Expository writing based on analysis of selected texts or literatures in translation or writings interpreting the material culture of the ancient Near or modern Middle East. Specific topics vary with instructor. R1A satisfies the first half of the Reading and Composition requirement, and R1B satisfies the second half.

NESTUD 109: Mesopotamian History 

3 Units|Tu, Th|12:30 pm – 1:59 pm|Dwinelle 109
Ancient Mesopotamian political, cultural, and economic history from the invention of script to the Persian conquest of Babylon will be presented in survey, and one topic will be selected for in-depth study.

NESTUD 126: Silk Road Art and Archaeology 

3 Units|Tu, Th|11:00 am – 12:29 pm|Barrows 126

The course will outline art and archaeology of the Silk Roads from the 5th century BCE to the 10th century CE. A number of specific sites located along the Silk Roads will be selected and explored in depth, as examples which reveal the manifold cultural currents along the trade routes. Special attention will be paid to the eclecticism in Silk Road cultures brought about by the movement of peoples and merchandise which facilitated the spread and fusion along these trading routes of various ideas, cultural forms, art styles, and religious concepts. The social and political underpinnings of this eclecticism will be examined.

NESTUD 150B: Arabic Literature in Translation 

3 Units|M,W|2:00 pm – 3:59 pm|Barrows 271

No knowledge of Arabic is required.  Survey of Arabic literature in its development from the post-Abbasid period to the present.

NESTUD 156: Sociolinguistics of the Greater Middle East

4 Units|M,W|12:00 pm – 1:59 pm|Barrows 271

The Middle East, Iran, and North Africa are home to a great number of languages and dialects, including many varieties of Arabic, as well as Persian, Kurdish, Hebrew, Aramaic, Berber and more. This course provides an introduction to the current status of these languages, their social settings, and relevant parts of their histories. Students will acquire a basic foundation in sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology as we explore how these languages change, struggle, and thrive. 

Knowledge of a language from the region (e.g. Arabic or Persian) will be helpful; no background in linguistics is required..

NESTUD 180: The Quran and Its Interpretation  

4 Units|Tu, Th|9:30 am – 10:59 am|Wheeler 222

The course introduces students to Quran and to methods of its interpretation, as adopted in the exegetical (tafsir) literature. In addition to being exposed to secondary academic literature on the Quran and its exegesis, students will be offered a high dose of primary exegetical texts in translation. Passages from a number of periods and denominations will be selected, so that students may develop an appreciation of the interpretive range of a constantly-evolving tradition.

NESTUD 190A: Special Topics in the Field of Near Eastern Studies, Ancient Near Eastern Studies

4 Units|W|2:00 pm – 4:59 pm| Barrows 252

Topics explore themes and problems in the various fields of Near Eastern studies. They often reflect the research interests of the instructor and supplement regular curricular offerings. Specific descriptions of current offerings in this series are available through the department.

NESTUD 190B: Special Topics in the Field of Near Eastern Studies, Egyptian Studies

4 Units|M,W|2:00 pm – 3:29 pm| Barrows 18

Topics explore themes and problems in the various fields of Near Eastern studies. They often reflect the research interests of the instructor and supplement regular curricular offerings. Specific descriptions of current offerings in this series are available through the department.

NESTUD 190C: Special Topics in the Field of Near Eastern Studies, Jewish Studies

4 Units|Tu,Th|11:00 am – 12:29 pm| Evans 72

Topics explore themes and problems in the various fields of Near Eastern studies. They often reflect the research interests of the instructor and supplement regular curricular offerings. Specific descriptions of current offerings in this series are available through the department.

NESTUD 291: Dissertation Writing Workshop

4 Units|W|2:00 pm – 3:59 pm| Dwinelle 106

A faculty member will oversee the group, offering guidance and making sure guidelines are followed. Students will manage the group’s day-to-day operations. At least one week before each meeting a student will pre-circulate a draft of a chapter. During the meeting, students will give feedback on the draft. This feedback will be used to revise the chapter, which will be due at the end of the semester. The workshop is open to graduate students from other departments who are writing on topics associated with Near Eastern Studies.

NESTUD 298: Seminar: Islamic Legal Theories 

1-4 Units|W|12:30 pm – 3:29 pm| Barrows 272

Special topics in Near Eastern Studies. Topics vary and are announced at the beginning of each semester.


HISTORY 109C: The Middle East From the 18th Century to the Present

4 Units|Tu,Th|9:30 pm – 10:59 pm| Etcheverry 3108

The breaking of pre-modern empires and the formation of national states in the Arab world, Turkey, and Iran; Islam and nationalism.

HISTORY 100B: Special Topics in European History:Jews of France and the Francophone World, Medieval to the Present

4 Units|Tu,Th|9:30 pm – 10:59 pm|

Designed primarily to permit the instructors to deal with a topic with which they are especially concerned, usually more restricted than the subject matter of a regular lecture course. A combination of informal lectures and discussions, term papers, and examinations. Instructors and subject to vary. Consult department website during pre-enrollment week each semester for specific topic.

HISTORY 101: Seminar in Historical Research and Writing for History Majors: Ancient Mediterranean

5 Units|Tu,Th|12:00 pm – 1:59 pm| Dwinelle 2231
Individual research projects carried out in seminar sections in various historical fields resulting in a lengthy paper, with readings and discussions on general problems of historical inquiry. In addition to regular class meetings, individual consultations with the instructor, research, and preparation totaling ten to twelve hours per week are required.


Jewish Studies

JEWISH 39:Freshman and Sophomore Seminar: Jews, Super-Heroes and Other Curiosities

2 Units|W|5:00 pm – 6:59 pm| Barrows 104

Freshman and sophomore seminars offer lower division students the opportunity to explore an intellectual topic with a faculty member and a group of peers in a small-seminar setting. These seminars are offered in all campus departments; topics vary from department to department and from semester to semester.

JEWISH 98: Directed Group Study

1-4 Units|Tu|5:00 pm – 6:59 pm|

Organized group study on topics selected by upper division students under the sponsorship and direction of the Jewish Studies faculty.

JEWISH 100: The Cultural Legacies of the Jews

3 Units|Tu,Th|9:30 am – 12:59 pm| Lewis 9

The course is intended to give Jewish studies minors a general introduction to the field through a survey of religious and cultural expressions of Jews across time and geographies. No previous knowledge of Judaism or Jewish Studies is necessary.

JEWISH 121: Topics in Jewish Arts and Culture

4 Units|W|2:00 pm – 4:59 pm| 2121 Allston Way 110

This course will address topics related to Jewish arts and culture with a format that includes lecture and lab hours.

JEWISH 122: Topics in Contemporary Judaism

3 Units|Tu,Th|11:00 am – 12:29 pm|Evans 72
A course on current trends in Jewish religious, cultural, and social life. The course will study innovative and conservative aspects of thought, ritual, and belief in relation to contemporary life and traditional Jewish values.

JEWISH 198: Directed Group Study

1 to 4 Units|W|6:30 pm – 8:29 pm

Organized group study on topics selected by upper division students under the sponsorship and direction of the Jewish Studies faculty.

JEWISH 198: Directed Group Study

1 to 4 Units|Th|6:30 pm – 8:29 pm

Organized group study on topics selected by upper division students under the sponsorship and direction of the Jewish Studies faculty.

JEWISH 200: Advanced Topics in Jewish Studies 

4 Units

Graduate seminar will focus on specific areas or topics in Jewish studies through a combination of close reading of texts, student presentation, and informal lectures. Instructors and topics to vary semester to semester. Consult department website for updated course descriptions.

Asian American Studies

ASAMST 132AC: Islamophobia and Constructing Otherness

4 Units|M,W|5:00 pm – 6:29 pm| Hearst Field Annex A1

This course will examine and attempt to understand Islamophobia, as the most recently articulated principle of otherness and its implications domestically and globally. The course will also closely examine the ideological and epistemological frameworks employed in discourses of otherness, and the complex social, political, economic, gender-based, and religious forces entangled in its historical and modern reproduction.

History of Art

Histart 21: Beauty and Truth in Islamic Art

4 Units|M,W,F|2:00 pm – 4:59 am| Moffitt Library 106

This course is an exercise in thinking about human perception and knowing in relation to the history of Islamic art and visual culture. It tracks the expression of theories of beauty and truth in great works of art and architecture, spanning from the seventh century CE to the present day, and including sites across the Middle East, Asia, North Africa, East Africa, Europe, and the United States. Equally, it aims to examine our own contemporary habits of assessing beauty and truth, and their fit (or lack thereof) when confronted with a diversity of arts made in distinct historical conditions of belief, interpretation and education, patronage, production, circulation, gender and sexuality, displacement and migration, and more.
This is a lower division course designed to meet Arts and Literature and Philosophy and Values distribution requirements. No prior knowledge of Art History or of Islam is presumed, but students must be motivated to learn about both.

Language Courses


ARABIC 1B: Elementary Arabic

5 Units

This course emphasizes the functional usage of Arabic in the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Authentic audio, video, and reading materials are presented from the beginning, and students are encouraged to be creative with the language in and out of class.

ARABIC 20B: Intermediate Arabic

5 Units

This course is proficiency oriented. Authentic reading in modern standard and classical Arabic and the understanding and application of grammatical and stylistic rules are emphasized. Students deliver oral presentations and write academic papers in Arabic.

ARABIC 100B: Advanced Arabic

3 Units

Intensive reading and analysis of texts of different genres. Guest lectures, films, documentaries, oral presentations, research papers. Formal and informal styles of writing and correspondence. Extensive vocabulary building.

ARABIC 111B: Survey of Arabic Literature (in Arabic)

3 Units|Tu, Th|3:30 pm – 4:59 pm|Barrows 271

This course is designed primarily for majors and prospective majors in Arabic studies.  The Post-Abbasid and Modern Periods: A literary-historical survey of Arabic literature from the middle of the thirteenth century to the present.

ARABIC 220: Seminar in Classical Arabic Literature

3 Units|M,W|11:00 am – 12:30 pm|Barrows 244

A close reading and careful literary analysis of significant authors and specific topics in Classical Arabic prose or poetry or both.


ARMENI 1B: Introductory Armenian

3 Units|Tu,Th|11:00 am – 12:29 pm| Dwinelle 242

An introduction to Armenian language and culture, aiming to give students basic competence in all four skills and an introduction to traditional and contemporary Armenian culture.

ARMENI 101B: Continuing Armenian

4 Units|Tu,Th|5:00 pm – 6:29 pm| Dwinelle 182

This course examines issues in Armenian culture (folklore, literature, architecture, visual arts, and film), with particular attention to Armenian cultural identity and socio-political movements in today’s Armenia and in diaspora. Lectures, readings and discussions in English. No knowledge of Armenian language is required (students with knowledge of Armenian read in the original).


HEBREW 1B: Elementary Hebrew

5 Units|M, Tu, W, Th, F|10:00 am – 10:59 am|Barrows 271

HEBREW 100B: Advanced Hebrew

3 Units|M|2:00 pm – 4:59 pm| Barrows 275

Advanced Hebrew, especially designed for those going on to the study of modern Hebrew literature. Vocabulary building, grammar review, and literary analysis of a sampling of modern texts.

HEBREW 106B: Elementary Biblical Hebrew

3 Units|Tu,Th|9:30 pm – 10:59 pm| Barrows 275

An introduction to the language of the Hebrew Bible.

HEBREW 201B: Advanced Biblical Hebrew Texts

3 Units|Th|3:30 pm – 6:29 pm| Barrows 252

The exegesis of a biblical book in the light of its ancient Near Eastern background.

HEBREW 202B: Advanced Late Antique Hebrew Texts

3 Units|Tu|2:00 pm – 4:59 pm| Barrows 8A

Historical and literary study of Hebrew and Aramaic Judaic texts (e.g., Talmud and Midrash).


Persian 1B: Elementary Modern Persian

5 Units|M,Tu,W,Th, F|10:00 am – 10:59 am| Barrows 118

Introduction to Persian language, covering basics of the language skills in all aspects of reading, writing, listening comprehension, and speaking with emphasis on culture and communicative methods.

Persian 11B:Reading and Composition for Persian-Speaking Students

5 Units|M,Tu,W,Th, F|1:00 pm – 1:59 pm| Dwinelle B4/ Dwinelle B33B

Designed for heritage students who possess oral skills (speaking/comprehension, though limited) but need to improve their writing and reading abilities, and expand their knowledge of Persian grammar and syntax. Completion of 11A-11B will prepare the student to take Persian 20A, Intermediate Persian.

Persian 20B: Intermediate Modern Persian

5 Units|M,Tu,W,Th, F|11:00 am – 11:59 am|Barrows 275

The sequence begins in the fall. This course emphasizes reading of simple literary texts, expository writing and composition, formal conversation, grammar, and syntax. It involves intensive vocabulary building in preparation for advanced reading and comprehension of standard literary texts

Persian 100B: Advanced Persian

3 Units|Tu,Th|2:00 pm – 3:29 pm| Barrows 275

Emphasis on intensive vocabulary building, comprehensive grammar review, reading and analysis of short literary texts of various genres from classical and modern periods, and reading newspaper clips and other original sources in Persian media.

Persian 102A: Advanced Persian

3 Units|Tu,Th|11:00 am – 12:29 pm| Barrows 155

Systematic study of representative selections from all periods of classical Persian literature, with attention to the historical and intellectual context.

Persian 200A: Readings in Persian Literary Texts

3 Units|Th|2:00 pm – 4:59 pm| Barrows 271

Advanced topics in Persian literature from various periods of Persian culture and literary history.

Iranian 201A: Iranian Philology

3 Units|Tu|3:00 pm – 3:59 am|Barrows 271

Reading of texts in Avestan, western Middle Iranian, and Sogdian, taken from Zoroastrian, Manichaean, and Buddhist texts.


TURKISH 1B: Elementary Modern Turkish

5 Units|M,Tu,W,Th,F|10:00 am – 10:59 am| Barrows 8A

Sequence begins Fall.

TURKISH 100B: Intermediate Modern Turkish

5 Units|M,W,F|11:00 am – 12:35 pm| Barrows 8A

    Sequence begins Fall.

TURKISH 198: Directed Group Study for Upper Division Students

1-4 Units|F|3:00 pm – 4:29 pm| Barrows 252

Prerequisite: One year of Modern Turkish, or consent of instructor.

Ottoman Turkish, the administrative language of the Ottoman Empire, is critical for students of the history and culture of not only Turkey but also the Balkans and the entire Arab world excluding Morocco. Rich and beguiling, its combination of the vocabulary and grammar of Turkish, Persian, and Arabic is unique, challenging, and delightful.

We begin by introducing the Arabic script, then read printed texts. From there we progress through more complex handwritten manuscripts. The goal is to give students the confidence to tackle a wide variety of Ottoman texts.

Center for Middle Eastern Studies
University of California, Berkeley
340 Stephens Hall, Berkeley, CA  94720-2314


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