Saturday, October 6, 2012

Islamic Middle East Syllabus

Islamic Middle East
History 355 / RGS 355
Fall 2014
Course Syllabus

Dr. Zackery M. Heern, PhD
Phone: 270-809-6585
Office Hours: TBA
Office: Faculty Hall 6B #4

Note: This syllabus is subject to change at the instructor’s discretion. It is the responsibility of each student to note any changes. All changes will be posted on Blackboard.

Course Description:
History of the Middle East from the 7th century to the 18th century. The course will examine the apostleship of Muhammad, the question of succession and the Sunni-Shi‘i schism, the government, society, and culture of the High Caliphate, the decline of Arab power and the rise of the Turks, the Islamic perspective of the Crusades, and the revival of Islamic power under the Gunpowder Empires. (Same as RGS 355.)

Textbooks and Readings:

Vernon O. Egger. A History of the Muslim World to 1405: The Making of a Civilization (New Jersey: Pearson, 2004)

Jonathan P. Berkey. The Formation of Islam: Religion and Society in the Near East, 600-1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009)

Additional readings and films will be posted on Canvas. These readings are required!

Course Requirements:

Reading Analyses and Discussion. Nearly every week we will have a discussion on the readings for that week. The discussion will take place on Canvas and in class - usually on Thursdays.

Each student will prepare for the discussion by writing an analysis of the readings for that week, which should be approximately 300-600 words (roughly 1-2 pages). The response will be posted to Canvas. Each student is required to write 10 reading analyses. The analysis should be a combination of summarizing the readings and analyzing them. A section of the analysis must compare and contrast the readings. It is also important that you pick out the most prominent themes discussed in the readings.

To receive full credit, students will also post at least two comments on responses posted by classmates. Additionally, each student will give a short oral report at the beginning of the discussion describing her/his reaction to the readings.

Papers. Each student will write three papers for this class. Each paper must be on a different topic.

Paper 1: Book Review. Write a review (roughly 800 words, 3 pages) of a book taken from a list that I will provide.

Paper 2: Bibliographic Paper. Write a bibliographic paper (1,300 words, 5 pages) on one of the 15 topics of the course. The bibliography must include at least 2 books and 2 journal articles.

Paper 3: Research Paper. The term paper (2,800, 10 pages) will be based on research of primary and secondary sources. The topic will be chosen in consultation with me, but must be directly related to the subject matter of the course. As part of the research paper students will submit an annotated bibliography, an introduction, and an outline prior to the due date of the paper. The bibliography must include at least 3 books, 3 journal articles, and primary source material.

Participation and Attendance. Students will receive a participation grade. As long as you regularly attend class and make a positive contribution to it, you will receive points for participation.

If a student misses 5 or more classes, his or her final grade will automatically be dropped by a letter grade. If a student misses 10 or more classes she or he will receive an E for the final grade.

Students who show up after roll is called will be marked late if they remind me after class. Students will receive half credit for being late and two tardies will be equated with one absence.

Students will lose points for cell-phone use or other inappropriate behavior in the classroom. Computers in the classroom are only to be used for note taking.

Canvas will be used extensively for this class. I will post announcements regarding changes in the syllabus and class schedule on Canvas. I will also use Canvas to post grades, etc. Please check it regularly.

Grade: (Your grade will be calculated as follows with the typical percentages equated to letter grades: 90%-100% = A, etc.)

Participation and Attendance:             100
Reading Analyses:                              250 (25 for each discussion)
Paper 1:                                               150                 
Paper 2:                                               200     
Paper 3:                                               300     
Total:                                                  1,000

I will be available to meet with you regularly. Please come to my office hours as often as you would like. It is my job to help you succeed in this class. I am ready and eager to help you. You can contact me in the following ways:
  1. Office Hours
  2. Email: Feel free to email me at
  3. Phone: 270-809-6585. If you are unable to come to office hours please call me.

Murray State University endorses the intent of all federal and state laws created to prohibit discrimination. Murray State University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, veteran status, or disability in employment, admissions, or the provision of services and provides, upon request, reasonable accommodation including auxiliary aids and services necessary to afford individuals with disabilities equal access to participate in all programs and activities. For more information, contact Director of Equal Opportunity, 103 Wells Hall. 270-809-3155 (voice), 270-809-3361 (TDD).

Murray State University prohibits cheating, which includes plagiarism. If a student is charged with academic dishonesty, an E may be recorded as the final grade and the student will be reported to her/his department. For the university academic honesty policy, see below for more details.

Murray State University takes seriously its moral and educational obligation to maintain high standards of academic honesty and ethical behavior. Instructors are expected to evaluate students’ academic achievements accurately, as well as ascertain that work submitted by students is authentic and the result of their own efforts, and consistent with established academic standards. Students are obligated to respect and abide by the basic standards of personal and professional integrity.

Violations of Academic Honesty include:
Cheating - Intentionally using or attempting to use unauthorized information such as books, notes, study aids, or other electronic, online, or digital devices in any academic exercise; as well as unauthorized com­munication of information by any means to or from others during any academic exercise.
Fabrication and Falsification - Intentional alteration or invention of any information or citation in an academic exercise. Falsification involves changing information whereas fabrication involves inventing or counterfeiting information.
Multiple Submission - The submission of substantial portions of the same academic work, including oral reports, for credit more than once without authorization from the instructor.
Plagiarism - Intentionally or knowingly representing the words, ideas, creative work, or data of someone else as one’s own in any academic exercise, without due and proper acknowledgement.
Instructors should outline their expectations that may go beyond the scope of this policy at the beginning of each course and identify such expectations and restrictions in the course syllabus. When an instructor receives evidence, either directly or indirectly, of academic dishonesty, he or she should investigate the instance. The faculty member should then take ap­propriate disciplinary action.
Disciplinary action may include, but is not limited to the following:
1) Requiring the student(s) to repeat the exercise or do additional related exercise(s).
2) Lowering the grade or failing the student(s) on the particular exercise(s) involved.
3) Lowering the grade or failing the student(s) in the course.

If the disciplinary action results in the awarding of a grade of E in the course, the student(s) may not drop the course.

Faculty reserve the right to invalidate any exercise or other evaluative measures if substantial evidence exists that the integ­rity of the exercise has been compromised. Faculty also reserve the right to document in the course syllabi further academic honesty policy elements related to the individual disciplines.
A student may appeal the decision of the faculty member with the department chair in writing within five working days. Note: If, at any point in this process, the student alleges that actions have taken place that may be in violation of the Murray State University Non-Discrimination Statement, this process must be suspended and the matter be directed to the Office of Equal Opportunity. Any appeal will be forwarded to the appropriate university committee as determined by the Provost.

Tentative Course Schedule:

Part 1: Formation of Islamic Middle East: 600-750

Week 1: August 19
Introduction and Pre-Islamic Middle East
Readings: Syllabus; Egger, Origins, pp. xi-20; Berkey, The Near East before Islam, pp. 1-54
Introductions Due

Week 2: August 26
Topic 1: Pre-Islamic Middle East
Readings: Egger, Origins, pp. xi-20; Berkey, The Near East before Islam, pp. 1-54
Reading Analysis 1 Due

Week 3: Sep 2
Topic 2: Muhammad and Islamic Origins
Readings: Egger, Rise of Islam, pp. 20-31; Berkey, The Emergence of Islam, pp. 55-69
Reading Analysis 2 Due

Week 4: Sep 9
Topic 3: Arab Conquests and Umayyad Caliphate
Readings: Egger, Arab Imperialism, pp. 33-60; Berkey, The Emergence of Islam, pp. 70-82
Reading Analysis 3 Due

Week 5: Sep 16
Topic 4: Sunni-Shi‘i Split and ‘Abbasid Revolution
Readings: Egger, Development of Sectarianism pp. 62-84; Berkey, The Emergence of Islam, pp. 83-110
Reading Analysis 4 Due

Part 2: Classical Islamic Middle East: 750-1250

Week 6: Sep 23
Topic 5: Abbasid, Fatimid, Umayyad Caliphates
Readings: Egger, The Center Cannot Hold: 3 Caliphates, pp. 85-112; Berkey, The Consolidation of Islam, pp. 111-140
Reading Analysis 5 Due

Week 7: Sep 30 (Oct. 2 and 3 No class for fall break)
Catch up or Film
Paper 1 Due

Week 8: Oct 7
Topic 6: Islamic Law and Mysticism
Readings: Egger, Synthesis and Creativity, pp. 114-127; Berkey, The Consolidation of Islam, pp. 141-176
Reading Analysis 6 Due

Week 9: Oct 14 (Oct 13 Midterm Grades Due)
Topic 7: Islamic Theology, Philosophy, Art, and Science
Readings: Egger, Synthesis and Creativity, pp. 127-138
See Canvas: Ahmad Dallal, “Science, Medicine, and Technology,” 155-214, Majid Fakhry, “Philosophy and Theology” 269-304 in John L. Esposito, The Oxford History of Islam
Reading Analysis 7 Due

Week 10: Oct 21
Topic 8: Political Decentralization
Readings: Egger, Filling the Vacuum of Power, pp. 139-144, 154-161; Berkey, 177-198
Reading Analysis 8 Due

Part 3: Middle Period of Islamic Middle East: 1250-1750

Week 11: Oct 28
Topic 9: Saljuqs and Islamic Spain
Readings: Egger, Filling the Power Vacuum, pp. 145-153, 162-170,
See Canvas for additional Reading
Paper 2 Due
Reading Analysis 9 Due

Week 12: Nov 4
Topic 10: Islam, Christendom, and Crusades
Readings: Egger, Barbarians at the Gates, pp. 172-188, Berkey, 198-202
See Canvas: Jane Smith, “Islam and Christendom” in John L. Esposito, The Oxford History of Islam.
Reading Analysis 10 Due

Week 13: Nov 11
Topic 11: Mongols and Mamluks
Readings: Egger, Barbarians at the Gates, pp. 188-198, and The Great Transformation, 257-288,
See Canvas for Additional Reading
Reading Analysis 11 Due
Bibliography and Intro for Final Paper

Week 14: Nov 18
Topic 12: Intellectual and Religious Life in the Middle Period
Readings: Egger, Consolidation of the Traditions, pp. 199-227, The Muslim Commonwealth, 229-255, and Unity and Diversity in Islamic Traditions, pp. 290-317; Berkey, Medieval Islam, pp. 203-257
Reading Analysis 12 Due

Week 15: Nov 25 (Nov 26-28 Thanksgiving)
Catch up or Film

Week 16: Dec 2
Topic 13: Ottoman and Safavid Empires
Readings: Berkey, pp. 261-269,
See Canvas: Gelvin, Gunpowder Empires
Reading Analysis 13 Due

Finals Week: Dec. 10-14
Paper 3 Due: Wednesday Dec. 10 @ 5pm

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