Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Middle East Studies

Taper Hall of Humanities 449
(213) 740-2795
FAX: (213) 740-9354
Email: mdes@dornsife.usc.edu
dornsife.usc.edu/mesp

Faculty

John Elliott Chair in Economics: M. Hashem Pesaran, Ph.D. (Economics)

Robert Grandford Wright Professor in International Relations: Laurie A. Brand, Ph.D. (International Relations)

Professors: Richard Dekmejian, Ph.D. (Political Science); Jeffrey B. Nugent, Ph.D. (Economics and Business); Azade-Ayse Rorlich, Ph.D. (History and Slavic Languages and Linguistics); Bruce Zuckerman, Ph.D. (Religion and Linguistics)

Associate Professors: Sarah Gulatieri, Ph.D. (History and American Studies and Ethnicity); Ramzi Rouighi, Ph.D. (History)

Assistant Professors: Christelle Fischer-Bovet, Ph.D. (Classics); Olivia Harrison, Ph.D. (French and Italian); Megan Reid (Religion and Gender Studies)

Associate Professor (Teaching): Jamal Ali, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor (Teaching): Peyman Nojoumian, Ph.D.

Lecturers: Lynn Swartz Dodd, Ph.D. (Religion); Fayez Hammad, Ph.D. (Political Science); Rym Kaki, Ph.D. (Public Policy); Lina Kholaki, Ph.D.; Suzan Wali, Ph.D.

Bachelor of Arts in Middle East Studies

This major is an interdisciplinary degree which draws on courses from anthropology, classics, economics, history, international relations, Judaic studies, linguistics, political science and religion. It offers students interested in exploring the richness and complexity of the Middle East, broadly defined as extending from Morocco through Iran, a framework for developing both expertise and wide-ranging critical perspectives on the region’s past, present and future. The variety of courses will allow students to tailor their choices to a range of possible emphases. Two options are also available regarding language study. The first, which is strongly recommended for all students, but especially for those who seek to pursue a career using Middle East studies, stresses the importance of a regional language (at this point, Arabic, Hebrew or Persian), along with other disciplinary offerings. The second allows students to gain an in-depth understanding of the region, but without the requirement of a regional language.

Requirements for the degree are: HIST 180 (an introductory survey course) which is a prerequisite for the major. Students must also take: a) seven more courses, six of which must be upper-division courses, chosen from MDES courses or from the list below; b) an eighth course, which may be either an upper-division course from the MDES courses or from the list below or the fourth semester of Arabic or Hebrew for those studying a regional language.

No more than two courses may be counted toward this major and another major.

Required Courses Units
HIST 180 The Middle East 4

Seven of the following courses, six of which must be upper-division courses:
ANTH 327 Anthropology of the Middle East and Islam 4
ANTH 335 Comparative Muslim Societies 4
CLAS 360 Classical Arabic Literature in Translation 4
ECON 322 Economic History and Modernization of the Middle East 4
ECON 342 Economic Development of the Middle East 4
HEBR 315 Biblical Hebrew Literature (Hebrew IV) 4
HIST 275 The Worlds of the Silk Road 4
HIST 324 Islam in Russia and the Soviet Union 4
HIST 383 The Modern Middle East 4
HIST 384 Popular Culture in the Middle East 4
HIST 480 Seminar in Middle East History 4, max 8
JS 214 Zionism, Israel and the Modern World 4
JS 361 Scripture and Polemic in Judaism, Christianity and Islam 4
LING 295 The Ancient Near East: Culture, Archaeology, Texts 4
MDES 252* Arabic IV 4
POSC 351 Middle East Politics 4
REL 315 Thought and Life of Islam 4
REL 317 Ancient Near Eastern Myth and Literature 4
REL 394 Archaeology of Egypt and the Near East 4
REL 494 Lab Methods and Theories in Archeology 4

*Counts as an upper-division course

Students majoring in Middle East studies are strongly encouraged to study in the Middle East in one of USC’s study abroad programs. USC currently has programs at the American University in Cairo, the Hebrew University (Jerusalem) and Tel Aviv University.

Unlike the other majors offered through the School of International Relations, advisement for the Middle East major is through the Dornsife College Advising Office.

Minor in Iranian Studies

The Iranian Studies minor provides students with the foundation for an advanced understanding of Iran, its history, peoples and cultures, from antiquity to the present. Neighboring countries that participated in Persian culture are included, as well as non-Persian Iranian peoples such as the Kurds and Pashtuns. Students finishing this minor will also have at least an intermediate ability in Persian, the official language of Iran, widely used in neighboring countries as well.

The Middle East Studies Program offers a minor in Iranian Studies for students majoring in other disciplines.

Required Courses, Lower Division Units
MDES 120 Persian I 4
MDES 150 Persian II 4
MDES 220 Persian III 4
MDES 250 Persian IV 4
Some or all of these may be waived by placement examination.

Required Courses, Upper Division Units
Four courses (16 units) from the following:
MDES 312 Iran in the Middle Ages 4
MDES 313 Modern Iran 4
MDES 320 Advanced Persian I 4
MDES 324 Classical Persian Literature in Translation 4
MDES 325 Modern Persian Literature in Translation 4
MDES 350 Advanced Persian II 4
MDES 461 Topics in Ancient Iranian Languages and Cultures 4

One of these four may alternatively be chosen from the following list of upper-division courses that cover material relevant to Iran or which situate an aspect of Iran in a broader context.
ANTH 335 Comparative Muslim Societies 4
CLAS 360 Classical Arabic Literature in Translation [covers period 500–1500] 4
HIST 324 Islam in Russia and the Soviet Union 4
HIST 382 The Middle East, 500–1500 4
POSC 351 Middle East Politics 4
REL 315 Thought and Life of Islam 4
REL 316 Women and the Islamic Tradition 4
REL 414 History of Islamic Law 4

Minor in Middle East Studies

Drawing on courses from nine different departments, this interdisciplinary minor offers students interested in exploring the richness and complexity of the Middle East, broadly defined as extending from Morocco through Iran, a framework for developing a basic but solid understanding of the region. Students may select courses that provide a broad introduction across disciplines, or they may choose courses that address a particular historical period or theme.

Twenty units (five courses) are required. All students must take HIST 180. To complete the minor a student must also take four upper-division courses from the list below from at least three departments. Students who are also studying Arabic may substitute MDES 252 Arabic IV for one of the four upper-division courses. However there is no language requirement for the minor.

Required Courses units
HIST 180 The Middle East 4

Four of the following courses:
ANTH 327 Anthropology of the Middle East and Islam 4
ANTH 335 Comparative Muslim Societies 4
CLAS 360 Classical Arabic Literature in Translation 4
ECON 322 Economic History and Modernization of the Middle East 4
ECON 342 Economic Development of the Middle East 4
HEBR 315 Biblical Hebrew Literature (Hebrew IV) 4
HIST 324 Islam in Russia and the Soviet Union 4
HIST 382 The Middle East, 500–1500 4
HIST 384 Popular Culture in the Middle East 4
HIST 480 Seminar in Middle East History 4, max 8
IR 362 The International Relations of the Contemporary Middle East 4
IR 363 Middle East Political Economy 4
JS 361 Scripture and Polemic in Judaism, Christianity and Islam 4
JS 465 Medieval Jewish Philosophy 4
MDES 252 Arabic IV 4
POSC 351 Middle East Politics 4
REL 315 Thought and Life of Islam 4
REL 317 Ancient Near Eastern Myth and Literature 4
REL 394 Archaeology of Egypt and the Near East 4
REL 494 Advanced Near Eastern and Mediterranean Archaeology 4

Unlike the other minors offered through the School of International Relations, advisement for the Middle East minor is done through the Dornsife College Advising Office.

Courses of Instruction

MIDDLE EAST STUDIES (MDES)

The terms indicated are expected but are not guaranteed. For the courses offered during any given term, consult the Schedule of Classes.

MDES 120 Persian I (4) Introduction to contemporary Persian (Farsi). Oral practice, listening and reading comprehension, grammar and vocabulary necessary for simple spoken and written expression.

MDES 122 Arabic I (4, FaSp) Introduction to modern standard Arabic: Development of speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills in contemporary cultural contexts.

MDES 150 Persian II (4) Continuation of Persian I. Prerequisite: MDES 120.

MDES 152 Arabic II (4, FaSp) Continuation of Arabic I. Prerequisite: MDES 122.

MDES 220 Persian III (4) Intermediate Persian (Farsi). Building conversational skills, listening and reading comprehension, grammar and vocabulary necessary for intermediate level spoken and written expression. Prerequisite: MDES 150.

MDES 222 Arabic III (4, FaSp) Intermediate modern standard Arabic. Continued development of speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. Prerequisite: MDES 152.

MDES 250 Persian IV (4) Continuing Intermediate Persian (Farsi). Building conversational skills, listening and reading comprehension, grammar and vocabulary necessary for intermediate level spoken and written expression. Prerequisite: MDES 220.

MDES 252 Arabic IV (4, FaSp) Continuation of Arabic III. Prerequisite: MDES 222.

MDES 312 Iran in the Middle Ages (4, FaSp) Political and dynastic history of Iran from the Arab conquest in the 7th to the 18th century.

MDES 313 Modern Iran (4, FaSp) History and culture of modern Iran from the 19th century to present through historical and ethnographic approaches to Iran today, richly contextualizing events and people.

MDES 320 Advanced Persian I (4, FaSp) Advanced verbal and written expression in Persian, including deeper understanding of Persian culture. Prerequisite: MDES 250.

MDES 322 Advanced Arabic I (4, FaSp) Advanced expression in written and spoken Arabic, including reading of original texts, understanding different registers, and exposure to modern Arabic cultures. Prerequisite: MDES 252.

MDES 324 Classical Persian Literature in Translation (4, FaSp) Introduction to literary culture of pre-modern Persia, from about 800–1800 AD. Emphasis on poetry, the most extensive, prestigious, and influential medium of Persian literature.

MDES 325 Modern Persian Literature in Translation (4, FaSp) Modern Persian literature, covering the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, including the rise of disaporic literature in Persian. Includes poetry, but focused primarily on prose.

MDES 333 Colloquial Arabic: Regional Dialects (4, max 16, FaSp) Introduction to a regional Arabic dialect, focusing primarily on verbal skills. Prerequisite: MDES 152; recommended preparation: MDES 222 and/or MDES 252.

MDES 334 Media Arabic (4, FaSp) Introduction and development of language skills encountered in print and broadcast media Arabic. Prerequisite: MDES 222.

MDES 349g Ancient Empires (4, FaSpSm) (Enroll in CLAS 349g)

MDES 350 Advanced Persian II (4, FaSp) Continuation of Advanced Persian I. Prerequisite: MDES 320.

MDES 352 Advanced Arabic II (4, FaSp) Continuation of Advanced Arabic I. Prerequisite: MDES 322.

MDES 362 The International Relations of the Contemporary Middle East (4, Fa) (Enroll in IR 362)

MDES 363 Middle East Political Economy (4, Sp) (Enroll in IR 363)

MDES 378 Ptolemaic Egypt (4) (Enroll in CLAS 378)

MDES 382 The Middle East, 500–1500 (4) (Enroll in HIST 382)

MDES 383 The Modern Middle East (4, Sp) (Enroll in HIST 383)

MDES 384 Popular Culture in the Middle East (4, FaSpSm) (Enroll in HIST 384)

MDES 394 Archaeology of Egypt and the Near East (4) (Enroll in REL 394)

MDES 402 Cultural Heritage, Religion, and Politics in the Middle East (4, Fa) (Enroll in REL 402)

MDES 448m Islam in France (4, FaSp) (Enroll in FREN 448m)

MDES 454 Classical Arabic (4, max 20, FaSp) Introduction to reading and interpretation of pre-modern, classical Arabic, including literature from the 6th to 19th centuries. Prerequisite: MDES 252.

MDES 461 Topics in Ancient Iranian Languages and Cultures (4, max 20) Studies and readings in one or more pre-modern Iranian languages and their cultural and historical contexts. Specific topics vary; may be repeated for credit.

MDES 463 Islam and Arab Nationalism (4) (Enroll in IR 463)

MDES 464 U.S. Policy Towards the Middle East: 1950 to the Present (4) (Enroll in IR 464)

MDES 480 Seminar in Middle East History (4, max 8) (Enroll in HIST 480)

MDES 490x Directed Research (1–8, max 12, FaSpSm) Individual research and readings. Not for graduate credit.

MDES 499 Special Topics (2–4, max 8, FaSpSm) Selected topics in Middle East studies.