This is the first course in a two-course introductory sequence (442 and 443) that covers Near Eastern history from the era of Muhammad to the present. Our purpose is to introduce you to (and give you some practice in) methods of studying the Near East as well as to some of the content of Near Eastern history; we expect no previous background in the field.
This course begins with the background and rise of Islam and ends in the heyday of the Ottoman Turkish and Safavid Persian empires, circa 1700. Although the basic organization of the course is chronological, we will discuss topics in such areas as politics and governance, religion (formal and 'folk,' including theology and mysticism), law, foreign relations and war, art and architecture, literature, economics, and social life. The classes will include lectures by (and probably discussions between) the instructors, and there will also be weekly class discussion of the assigned readings. In addition to the final examination, students will be expected to prepare two three-page exercises based on the readings, which will consist of modern scholarly works and translated medieval sources.