MIDEAST 391 - Humanities Topics in Middle East Studies
Section: 001 Popular Culture in the Middle East
Term: FA 2018
Subject: Middle East Studies (MIDEAST)
Department: LSA Near Eastern Studies
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
At least one previous course in Middle East studies. Students should not elect the same topic twice.
May be elected twice for credit.
Primary Instructor:

We are all familiar with the news media’s sensational headlines involving the Middle East: ISIS, refugees, dictators, suicide bombers, veiled (and oppressed) women, oil riches, or the excitement of the Arab Spring. In this class, we shift the focus to approach the Middle East from the angle of popular culture so as to highlight the creativity and dynamism of a region that is more complex and cosmopolitan than such media headlines suggest. At the same time, we will use the lens of popular culture to investigate aspects of society, culture, and politics in the Middle East. We will ask what can and does film, television, and music tell us about state power, inequality, national identities, or political and social struggles? How is popular culture in the Middle Eats integrated in global circuits of representations and transnational cultural forms? How can popular culture be mobilized in times of revolutionary upheaval as it was the case during the Arab Spring and its aftermath? Throughout the class we will investigate the various meanings of the terms “popular” and “culture” (in both English and Arabic) and will examine what counts as “popular culture” and for whom. To address these issues and questions, the class will rely on both historical and anthropological readings that examine popular culture in the Middle East, as well as on first-hand engagements with instances of this popular culture. We will analyze films and soap operas, novels and news media, visual images like graffiti and comics, and music. We will also make a field trip to the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan and attend one relevant show in the Ann Arbor area. The class offers students an introduction to anthropological approaches in general, and specifically anthropological approaches to media and popular culture.

Course Requirements:

Class participation, short response papers on assigned readings or view materials, and 3 five-page essays each focusing on a different example of popular culture

Class Format:

Two 90-minute meetings weekly

MIDEAST 391 - Humanities Topics in Middle East Studies
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
TuTh 4:00PM - 5:30PM
002 (SEM)
MW 2:30PM - 4:00PM
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