Courses - Spring 2020

NES 1312 Introduction to Urdu Script

This class is an introductory class for beginners. This course will teach students how to listen, speak, read and write Urdu through vocabulary, grammar, oral and written activities, with an emphasis on reading and writing basic Urdu. The course begins by introducing the alphabet and their combinations. In addition to learning the script we will also introduce the basic knowledge and background on Urdu culture.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Naaz Rizvi (nfr8)
Full details for NES 1312 : Introduction to Urdu Script
NES 1350 Music of the Arab World

This course offers a survey of musical performance practices of the Arab world and its diasporas from the early twentieth century to the present. It investigates the sociopolitical conditions and entanglements of music (and, in a few instances, dance) across a range of localities and periods. Themes considered include colonialism and orientalism, nationalism and populism, minorities and indigeneity, gender, religion, revolution and political change, war and US imperialism, regional histories of enslavement.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Leila Tayeb (lot7)
Full details for NES 1350 : Music of the Arab World
NES 1561 Introduction to the Ottoman Empire

This course will introduce students to the study of the Ottoman Empire from its inception in the late 13th century until the early part of 19th century. The classes will follow the main timeline of the geographical expansion of the empire with a special emphasis on the historical significance of the conquest of Istanbul, the consolidation of the borders of the empire, the establishment of the state apparatus in the classical period, a period of turbulence leading to a substantial transformation of the state in the early 19th century. Special focus will be placed on the Ottoman Empire's diverse religious communities—using the history of the Jewish community as the main case study—the evolution of the imperial and provincial governments' relationships with the various socio-cultural groups, legal and economic practices in the urban centers, the culture of the court in the early modern period, and the evolution of the inter-communal relations in the empire's urban centers.  This course is intended to provide the student with a solid foundation from which they can pursue further specialized study in the history of the Ottoman Empire, the Modern Middle East, and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Distribution: (HA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Mostafa Minawi (mm2492)
Full details for NES 1561 : Introduction to the Ottoman Empire
NES 1602 Great Discoveries in Greek and Roman Archaeology

This introductory course surveys the archaeology of the ancient Greek and Roman Mediterranean. Each week, we will explore a different archaeological discovery that transformed scholars' understanding of the ancient world. From early excavations at sites such as Pompeii and Troy, to modern field projects across the Mediterranean, we will discover the rich cultures of ancient Greece and Rome while also exploring the history, methods, and major intellectual goals of archaeology.

Distribution: (HA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Caitlin Barrett (ceb329)
Full details for NES 1602 : Great Discoveries in Greek and Roman Archaeology
NES 1777 Elementary Yiddish II
Academic Career: UG Instructor: David Forman (drf84)
Full details for NES 1777 : Elementary Yiddish II
NES 1922 FWS: In the Footsteps of Sinbad: Readings in Arabic Travel Writing

Is the Sinbad story simply a story of wondrous events aimed at entertaining the reader? Or does its symbolic language tell us something more about the nature of crossing frontiers and encountering the unknown? How do we locate and read significant moments of encountering difference in a travel narrative? On what basis do we analyze these moments? In the Footsteps of Sinbad: Readings in Arabic Travel Writing is a freshmen writing seminar where we do close reading of primary fictional and non-fictional literary texts in Arabic travel writing. The text we read are from both the medieval and the modern periods and by men and women writers. The main goal of the seminar is to develop the students' ability to understand literary texts and write about them. Readings include, but are not limited to, the English translations of: "The Story of Sinbad the Sailor" from The Arabian Nights; the medieval Travels of Ibn Battuta by Ibn Battuta; My Travels Around the World by Nawal El-Saadawi; The Journey of Ibn Fattouma by Naguib Mahfouz; and Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Rama Alhabian (ra475)
Full details for NES 1922 : FWS: In the Footsteps of Sinbad: Readings in Arabic Travel Writing
NES 1981 FWS: The Emergence and Articulation of Islam

The factors and influences that contributed to the early development of Islam are a topic of intense debate and continued speculation. Devoted to the question of Islamic origins, this course examines Islam from numerous vantage points across the vast and shifting religious landscape of the Near East. Through selections of primary sources and scholarly literature, we will encounter the Sabaeans and Himyarites of Yemen, the Christians of Byzantine Rome and Abyssinia, and the Jewish diaspora in Arabia. Scrutinizing our state of knowledge, we will think and write much about how nascent Islam may have been impacted by these and other communities. Assignments—several multi-draft analytical essays and a research paper—will focus on developing critical thinking and persuasive, clear arguments.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Raashid Goyal (rsg263)
Full details for NES 1981 : FWS: The Emergence and Articulation of Islam
NES 2202 Intermediate Urdu Reading and Writing II

This course is designed to develop competence in Urdu reading and writing for students with a first-year knowledge of Hindi and knowledge of Urdu script. The goal of this course is to improve listening, speaking, reading and writing abilities in Urdu. By the end of the course, students will have the ability to read articles, write short stories and translate Urdu writings. This course may be taken concurrently with Intermediate Hindi.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Naaz Rizvi (nfr8)
Full details for NES 2202 : Intermediate Urdu Reading and Writing II
NES 2522 Drinking through the Ages: Intoxicating Beverages in Near Eastern and World History

This course examines the production and exchange of wine, beer, coffee and tea, and the social and ideological dynamics involved in their consumption. We start in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, and end with tea and coffee in the Arab and Ottoman worlds. Archaeological and textual evidence will be used throughout to show the centrality of drinking in daily, ritual and political life.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Christopher Monroe (cmm253)
Full details for NES 2522 : Drinking through the Ages: Intoxicating Beverages in Near Eastern and World History
NES 2565 Global Heritage

"Heritage" typically conjures images of a glorified human past, and evokes sentiments of care for lost or endangered cultures that symbolize humanity's diversity. But heritage is also the foundation for a multi-billion dollar tourist industry and a basis for claims to national sovereignty. A closer look at heritage reveals institutions, places, and things possessed of extraordinary power. Drawing on case studies from around the world, this course attends to the complexities of heritage today. Topics include heritage ethics, tourism and the marketing of the past, approaches to preservation and management, disputed heritage and violence, heritage ideologies from nationalism to universalism, participation and inequality from the grassroots to the global, "counterheritage", and the practice of public archaeology. Students apply insights gained by designing projects as heritage practitioners, engaged with "heritage-scapes" at Cornell and beyond.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Sabrina Papazian (sp625)
Adam Smith (ats73)
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NES 2575 Myth and Religion in Mesopotamia

This course will survey the cultic practices and beliefs of ancient Babylonia and Assyria, the two major civilizations of Mesopotamia. We will examine the major myths of this region, e.g., Ishtar's Descent into the Netherworld, Etana, and Gilgamesh, in light of what they reveal about Mesopotamian religion, politics, and understanding of the afterlife. We will also examine the performance of magical rituals and incantations, methods of predicting the future, and the role of sacred marriage, prostitution, and slavery in the ancient temple.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Jonathan Tenney (jst229)
Full details for NES 2575 : Myth and Religion in Mesopotamia
NES 2629 New Testament/Early Christian Literatures

This course provides a literary and historical introduction to the earliest Christian writings, especially those that eventually came to be included in the New Testament.  Through the lens of the Gospel narratives and earliest Christian letters, especially those of Paul, we will explore the rich diversity of the early Christian movement from its Jewish roots in first-century Palestine through its development and spread to Asia Minor and beyond.   We will give careful consideration to the political, economic, social, cultural, and religious circumstances that gave rise to the Jesus movement, as well as those that facilitated the emergence of various manifestations of Christian belief and practice.   The course will address themes like identity and ethnicity, conversion and debate, race and slavery, gender and sexuality, and the connections between politics and religion.

Distribution: (HA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Kim Haines-Eitzen (kjh10)
Full details for NES 2629 : New Testament/Early Christian Literatures
NES 2644 Introduction to Judaism

Jewish communities have been established, flourished and often struggled for millennia, throughout much of the world, and in vital contact with a vast range of other peoples and cultures. This course examines the constant and dynamic tension between that which unites Jews in all these different times and places, and that which makes every Jew a person of his or her own time and place. Our whirlwind tour will take us from ancient Israel, through Babylonia and the world of early Islam, into the medieval origins of Ashkenazi Jewry, down to Ottoman North Africa, and all the way across the Indian Ocean. We will learn how Jewish and other diaspora communities overcome challenges to maintain the distinctive identities, how to engage critically with the ways contemporary scholars engage with the records of these far-flung communities, and how to generate our own critical questions.

Distribution: (HA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Lauren Monroe (lm283)
Full details for NES 2644 : Introduction to Judaism
NES 2661 Ancient Ships and Seafaring: Introduction to Nautical Archaeology

A survey of the history and development of ships and seafaring as revealed by shipwrecks, boat burials, texts, art, and other evidence. The role of nautical technology and seafaring among the maritime peoples of the ancient Mediterranean world-Canaanites, Minoans, Mycenaeans, Phoenicians, Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans-and the riverine cultures of Mesopotamia and Egypt is addressed. The survey stretches from the earliest evidence for Mediterranean seafaring around 10,000 bce to the first transatlantic voyages in the 15th century, including Arab, Viking, and European explorers, and the birth of modern capitalism in the Italian Maritime Republics. Along the way, economics, war, exploration, cult, life at sea, and colonization are discussed.

Distribution: (HA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Christopher Monroe (cmm253)
Full details for NES 2661 : Ancient Ships and Seafaring: Introduction to Nautical Archaeology
NES 2722 Of Saints, Poets, and Revolutionaries: Medieval and Modern Iran and Central Asia

From the poet-kings of medieval Persia to the trading networks of the famed "Silk Road" to the wandering mystics of Herat to the constitutional revolution of Iran to the colonial and post-colonial occupations of contemporary Afghanistan, this course offers a broad cultural and political history of Iranian and Turkic Central Asia.  In addition, we will explore the highly complex intellectual, artistic, and architectural trends and "cross-cultural" exchanges that formed the backbone of many disparate Iranian-Turkic cultures. 

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Seema Golestaneh (sg2327)
Full details for NES 2722 : Of Saints, Poets, and Revolutionaries: Medieval and Modern Iran and Central Asia
NES 2728 Modern Middle Eastern Literature in Translation

In their acceptance speeches for the Nobel Prize in Literature, both the Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz (1988) and the Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk (2006) situate their work between Eastern and Western literary traditions. Pamuk elaborated: "To write, to read, was like leaving one world to find consolation in the other world's otherness, the strange and the wondrous." In this class, we seek the strange and wondrous otherness, along with the familiar and wondrous sameness in modern literature from the Middle East. We proceed thematically across the literary traditions of the Middle East, with a focus on works written in Arabic, Turkish, Persian, and Hebrew. The thematic organization permits us to approach critical issues comparatively. In addition to exploring the tension between Eastern and Western influences in this literature, we will also investigate other issues writers confront: How do literary heritage and religious tradition inflect modern texts? What is the relationship between politics and aesthetics? How does literature represent traumatic memories and violence, past and present? All readings are in English.

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Deborah Starr (das86)
Full details for NES 2728 : Modern Middle Eastern Literature in Translation
NES 3519 History of State and Society in Modern Iran: Through Literature and Film

In the conditions of strict censorship and numerous limitations on various forms of political organization and activism, literature and cinema, especially Iran's internationally acclaimed art cinematography, have been the major outlets through which the social and political concerns of the Iranian society have been voiced throughout the modern period. The course explores major themes and periods in Iran's transition from the secular state of the Pahlavi dynasty to the religious state of the Islamic Republic in the 20th and 21st centuries. We will focus on social as well as political themes including the Anglo-Russo-American Occupation of Iran, the 1979 Islamic Revolution, U.S.-Iranian relations, Iraq-Iran War, the Green Movement and the crisis of Islamic government, Images of the West in Iran, Modern Youth Culture, Gender segregation, and the struggle between modernity and traditionalism in contemporary Iran. We will watch selected Iranian documentary and feature films and draw on modern Persian literature but will approach them not as art forms but as reflections of major socio-economic, political, and religious phenomena in Iran's modern history. We will read and watch what the Iranians wrote and produced, read and watched, in order to view and explain Iran and its relations with the West through the Iranian eyes. We will examine how the Iranians perceived themselves and the others, how they viewed their own governments and the West, what issues inspired and shaped their outlook outside the official censorship during the period in question. All readings are in English translation and the films are with English subtitles. The course includes lectures deconstructing political, religious, and social evolution of modern Iran as well as regular class discussions where we will address the issues in question from a variety of perspectives.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Iago Gocheleishvili (ig44)
Full details for NES 3519 : History of State and Society in Modern Iran: Through Literature and Film
NES 3677 The Search for the Historical Muhammad

As the founder of Islam Muhammad is one of the most influential figures in world history. An important source for his life is the Sira of Ibn Ishaq (d. ca. 761), a biography that opens with Muhammad's birth ca. 570 and ends with his death in 632. If we take the narrative reports in this text at face-value, then Muhammad appears to have been born in the full light of history. But is the Sira a reliable source for the historical Muhammad? In this seminar, we will read this text in its entirely and analyze selected episodes from a critical historical perspective, with special attention to biblical and post-biblical models for the writing of sacred history.

Distribution: (HA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: David Powers (dsp4)
Full details for NES 3677 : The Search for the Historical Muhammad
NES 3691 Race and Slavery, Old and Modern

What does it mean to live in the aftermath of slavery? How has the human history of slavery contributed to the production of "natural" values that we take for granted—such as community, property, citizenship, gender, individuality, and freedom? This course explores the history of enslavement throughout the human past, from the ancient world to the modern era. We will pay particular attention to the relationship between slavery and the construction of racial blackness. We will explore various institutionalized forms of servitude throughout time and space, from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic worlds, from eunuchism to concubinage, from slavery in the Roman Empire to "modern slavery" and sex trafficking. Readings will be in English and will engage a variety of dynamic sources: theoretical, historiographical, anthropological, religious, legal, literary and multimedia.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Parisa Vaziri (pv248)
Full details for NES 3691 : Race and Slavery, Old and Modern
NES 3697 History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

This course examines the history of the conflict between two peoples with claims to the same land (Palestine/Israel), from the rise of their national movements at the turn of the 20th century and their eventual clash down to the present crisis. We will investigate the various stable and shifting elements in the evolution of the conflict including conflicting Israeli and Palestinian narratives and mythologies about the nature of the conflict. Among many issues to be addressed are: the relationship of this conflict to the history of European colonialism in the Middle East, the emergence of Pan-Arabism and Islamism, the various currents in Zionism and its relationship to Judaism, the implication of great power rivalry in the Middle East, the different causes and political repercussions of the four Arab-Israeli wars, efforts at peacemaking including Oslo and Camp David, and the significance of the two Palestinian uprisings.

Distribution: (HA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Ross Brann (rb23)
Full details for NES 3697 : History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
NES 3750 Humanities Scholars Research Methods

This course explores the practice, theory, and methodology of humanities research, critical analysis, and communication through writing and oral presentation. We will study the work and impact of humanists (scholars of literature, history, theory, art, visual studies, film, anthropology, gender and sexuality studies), who pose big questions about the human condition. By reading and analyzing their scholarship—critiquing them and engaging their ideas—we will craft our own methods and voices. Students will refine their research methods (library research, note taking, organizing material, bibliographies, citation methods, proposals, outlines, etc.) and design their own independent research project. Students enrolled in this seminar will have the opportunity to participate in the Humanities Scholars Program.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Durba Ghosh (dg256)
Full details for NES 3750 : Humanities Scholars Research Methods
NES 3880 Islam and the Ethnographic Imagination

How does one study Islam from an anthropological perspective?  Through close readings of recent ethnographies, canonical texts, theoretical works, and critiques of the genre, we will understand the major debates and intellectual trends that have defined the anthropology of Islam from its earliest inception through the present day.  Geographic areas covered include South Asia, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, America, North Africa, and West Africa.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Seema Golestaneh (sg2327)
Full details for NES 3880 : Islam and the Ethnographic Imagination
NES 4337 Labor and Employment in the Middle East and North Africa

This course introduces students to the history, evolution and trajectory of state-labor relations, labor activism, and the politics of unemployment in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). As the region with the highest concentration of non-democratic regimes in the world, the MENA provides a rich context for examining state efforts to control interest representation, and workers' struggles for freedom of association. In addition, the region features diverse political economic systems, making it ideal for examining the interaction between resource endowments and labor market dynamics. Finally, the region is ripe for the study of youth activism and the mobilization of the unemployed given that youth unemployment rates are higher in the MENA than any other world region.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Dina Bishara (db833)
Full details for NES 4337 : Labor and Employment in the Middle East and North Africa
NES 4533 The Lower East Side: Jews and the Immigrant City

American Jews have frequently been touted as a "model minority." This course will take a more critical look at the historical interactions between Jewish immigration, United States industrialization, and processes of social and geographical mobility—all through the prism of New York's Lower East Side, first home for over 750,000 Jewish immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe, the Ottoman Empire and elsewhere between the mid-19th century and the 1920s.  We will compare the Jewish experience to that of other immigrants/migrants by considering social institutions as well as material and other cultural practices. We will examine interactions with the built environment —most especially the tenement—in Lower East Side culture. Special attention will be paid to immigrant labor movement politics including strikes, splits, and gender in the garment trade. From the perspective of the present, the course will examine how commemoration, heritage tourism and the selling of [immigrant] history intersect with gentrifying real estate in an "iconic" New York City neighborhood. Projects using the ILR's archives on the Triangle Fire and other topics are explicitly encouraged. This course counts as an out of college elective for B. Arch and M. Arch students.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Elissa Sampson (ejs362)
Full details for NES 4533 : The Lower East Side: Jews and the Immigrant City
NES 4540 Moses Maimonides

Moses Maimonides who was born in Cordoba (1138), moved to Fez as a youth and died in Cairo (1204) is regarded by Jewish, Islamic, and Christian tradition alike as the most important Jewish religious intellectual of the classical age of Islam/the High Middle Ages. This seminar will examine Maimonides as the product of his time and place including his complex relationship with Arabo-Islamic culture and, because of his stature as a communal figure, rabbinic scholar, court physician and philosopher, his role as a catalyst for cultural developments. For comparative purposes we also consider Maimonides' Andalusi contemporary, Ibn Rushd, the philosopher, Muslim jurist, physician and scholar of Islamic law.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Ross Brann (rb23)
Full details for NES 4540 : Moses Maimonides
NES 4543 State and Society in the Late Ottoman Empire

This seminar will examine the relationship between the imperial, provincial, and local state apparatuses and the various sections of society as the Ottoman Empire underwent a steady transition from the so-called Ancient Régime through the constructs of the so-called modern state. This course will look at specific case studies from across the empire, examining the similarities and difference, across provinces, and wherever possible, across imperial domains. From a theoretical point of view, the discussion will not simply focus on how the relationship between state and society changed, but will also investigate the construct of the separation of state and society conceptually, over the period of 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries.

Distribution: (HA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Mostafa Minawi (mm2492)
Full details for NES 4543 : State and Society in the Late Ottoman Empire
NES 4545 Sound, Silence, and the Sacred

From the ringing of Tibetan singing bowls to the quiet of desert monasticism, religious imagination and ritual is replete with sound and silence.  Cityscapes resound with church bells and calls from the minarets.   Music, chanting, recitations, incantations, mantras, gongs—the world of religion is intimately tied to ritualistic uses of sound.   But sound goes even beyond ritual to the realm of the imaginary, which frequently contrasts the music of the gods with the noise of the demons.   Sound and silence in such contexts are inherently tied to desire, temptation, and even salvation.  In addition, environmental sounds—the sounds of thunder, water, wind, animals, and so forth—are important for religious history and literature and contemporary practices.    This course will draw upon a wide array of sources—from texts to recordings, videos, and performances—to address the function and meaning of sound (and silence) within diverse religious traditions.   Our goal will be to read selections from the field of sound studies, listen and read closely in texts and music coming from diverse religious traditions, and to make some of our own recordings for a Cornell (and beyond) religious soundscape. 

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Kim Haines-Eitzen (kjh10)
Full details for NES 4545 : Sound, Silence, and the Sacred
NES 4560 Theory and Method in Near Eastern Studies

Requirement for NES majors. In this seminar we will read and discuss a range of theories and methods that have been employed by scholars in the interdisciplinary area of Near Eastern Studies. After giving attention to the historical development of area studies programs and their current status and relevance, we read a wide range of influential works in Near Eastern Studies, with special attention to the concept of "orientalism". Literary theory, anthropology, historiography, post-colonialism, archaeology, gender theory, and comparative religions are a few of the approaches, methods, and theories we will explore.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Deborah Starr (das86)
Full details for NES 4560 : Theory and Method in Near Eastern Studies
NES 4670 Wealth and Power: Political Economy in Ancient Near Eastern States

Early states emerged when select groups gained control over wealth and power and institutionalized that control. How this was accomplished is a question of political economy that we can approach from archaeological, anthropological, and sociological perspectives. The course introduces students to the intellectual development of historical materialism in Smith, Marx, and Weber, among others, and traces their influence on later socioeconomic historians such as Polanyi and Finley. More recent approaches deriving from world-systems, gender studies, post-colonial studies, game theory, and network theory are then applied to case studies that include the emergence of a Mesopotamian state ca. 3400 BC, the Akkadian and Ur III empires, Old Babylonian and Old Assyrian trade, pharaonic Egypt, the international Late Bronze Age world, Aegean palatial civilization, and the Phoenicians. Students are welcome to present and write on other topics also. Monroe will provide context and clarification to assist with the specialist literature, but prior coursework in ancient studies will be advantageous in critically evaluating and writing about all the course readings.

Distribution: (HA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Christopher Monroe (cmm253)
Full details for NES 4670 : Wealth and Power: Political Economy in Ancient Near Eastern States
NES 4672 Nationalism(s) in the Arab World

This seminar examines the emergence of national identities, nationalist movements, and nation-states in the modern Arab world. First, we will examine various approaches to the question of nationalism, using Benedict Anderson's Imagined Communities as our basic reference. We will then test the applicability of these general theories to the Arab World through our examination of specific case studies.

Distribution: (HA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Ziad Fahmy (zaf3)
Full details for NES 4672 : Nationalism(s) in the Arab World
NES 4721 Peace Building in Conflict Regions: Case Studies Sub-Saharan Africa Israel Palestinian Territories

This course focuses on issues of conflict, peace, and reconciliation in Israel and the Palestinian Territories as well as Sub-Saharan Africa. Both regions exemplify how issues ranging from nationalism and ethnocentrism to land, water and resource management, climate change and migration, as well as socio-psychological dynamics, can exacerbate conflicts. At the same time, these regions also exemplify how trans-border collaboration and regional integration, civilian peace building efforts, strategies for achieving historical justice, as well as science education and science diplomacy can become crucial tools for long-term peace-building, reconciliation and development. In this course we will work with and discuss issues of peace and conflict with policy-makers and local stakeholders involved in peace-building efforts.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Christine Leuenberger (cal22)
Full details for NES 4721 : Peace Building in Conflict Regions: Case Studies Sub-Saharan Africa Israel Palestinian Territories
NES 4795 Looking for Love: Visual and Literary Cultures of Love in the Medieval Mediterranean, 1100 - 1400 AD

A comparative and interdisciplinary seminar whose focus is the visual world created by the pan-Mediterranean (Iberian Peninsula, Maghreb, France, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, and Persia) culture of "Courtly Love" beginning during the 11th century ad, and continuing as a principle factor in medieval cultural production for the remainder of the period. Particular attention will be paid to the ways in which the visual dimensions of this culture nuance, compliment, contradict, or at times even exist independently of, its oral and written spheres. Reading knowledge of any Romance or Semitic language and/or Persian, in addition to English, is highly advantageous.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Cynthia Robinson (cr94)
Full details for NES 4795 : Looking for Love: Visual and Literary Cultures of Love in the Medieval Mediterranean, 1100 - 1400 AD
NES 4913 Walter Benjamin

This extraordinary figure died in 1941, and his death  is emblematic of the intellectual depredations of Nazism. Yet since World War II, his influence, his reputation, and his fascination for scholars in a wide range of cultural and political disciplines has steadily grown. He is seen as a bridging figure between German and Jewish studies, between materialist critique of culture and the submerged yet powerful voice of theology, between literary history and philosophy. We will review Benjamin's life and some of the key disputes over his heritage; read some of the best-known of his essays; and devote significant time to his enigmatic and enormously rich masterwork, the Arcades Project, concluding with consideration of the relevance of Benjamin's insights for cultural and political dilemmas today.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Jonathan Boyarin (jab857)
Full details for NES 4913 : Walter Benjamin
NES 4943 Life in Ruins

How do humans live with the ruins we create? What lifeways and lifeforms do ruins sustain? What forces cause the remnants of late modernity to endure or erode? Through the lens of archaeology, anthropology, philosophy, cultural geography, art, and architecture, this interdisciplinary seminar interrogates ruination as a condition of the human experience—one that has intensified in the afterlife of modernity, and one whose study might help us cope with advancing planetary decline, even as we work to curb it. For longer description and instructor bio, visit societyhumanities.as.cornell.edu/courses

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Lori Khatchadourian (lk323)
Full details for NES 4943 : Life in Ruins
NES 4992 Independent Study, Undergraduate Level

For undergraduates who wish to obtain research experience or do extensive reading on a special topic. Students select a topic in consultation with the faculty member who has agreed to supervise the course.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Ross Brann (rb23)
Full details for NES 4992 : Independent Study, Undergraduate Level
NES 4998 Senior Honors Essay

Each fall, a small number of highly qualified seniors enter the Near Eastern Studies Honors Program. The Honors Program is open to NES majors who have done superior work and who wish to devote a substantial part of their senior year to advanced, specialized, independent research and writing of a thesis. Successfully completing an honors thesis will require sustained interest, exceptional ability, diligence, and enthusiasm. Students must also take two honors courses NES 4998 in fall and NES 4999 in spring, in addition to the regular major requirements. While admission to the Honors Program and completion of a thesis do not guarantee that students will be awarded honors in Near Eastern Studies, most students find the experience as intellectually rewarding as it is rigorous.

Academic Career: UG Full details for NES 4998 : Senior Honors Essay
NES 4999 Senior Honors Essay

Each fall, a small number of highly qualified seniors enter the Near Eastern Studies Honors Program. The Honors Program is open to NES majors who have done superior work and who wish to devote a substantial part of their senior year to advanced, specialized, independent research and writing of a thesis.  Successfully completing an honors thesis will require sustained interest, exceptional ability, diligence, and enthusiasm. Students must also take two honors courses NES 4998 in fall and NES 4999 in spring, in addition to the regular major requirements. While admission to the Honors Program and completion of a thesis do not guarantee that students will be awarded honors in Near Eastern Studies, most students find the experience as intellectually rewarding as it is rigorous.

Academic Career: UG Full details for NES 4999 : Senior Honors Essay
NES 6112 Medieval Hebrew Poetry

Critical readings in medieval Hebrew lyrical and liturgical poetry and imaginative rhymed prose from tenth-century Islamic Spain to Renaissance and Baroque Italy.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Ross Brann (rb23)
Full details for NES 6112 : Medieval Hebrew Poetry
NES 6337 Labor and Employment in the Middle East and North Africa

This course introduces students to the history, evolution and trajectory of state-labor relations, labor activism, and the politics of unemployment in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). As the region with the highest concentration of non-democratic regimes in the world, the MENA provides a rich context for examining state efforts to control interest representation, and workers' struggles for freedom of association. In addition, the region features diverse political economic systems, making it ideal for examining the interaction between resource endowments and labor market dynamics. Finally, the region is ripe for the study of youth activism and the mobilization of the unemployed given that youth unemployment rates are higher in the MENA than any other world region.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Dina Bishara (db833)
Full details for NES 6337 : Labor and Employment in the Middle East and North Africa
NES 6540 Moses Maimonides

Moses Maimonides who was born in Cordoba (1138), moved to Fez as a youth and died in Cairo (1204) is regarded by Jewish, Islamic, and Christian tradition alike as the most important Jewish religious intellectual of the classical age of Islam/the High Middle Ages. This seminar will examine Maimonides as the product of his time and place including his complex relationship with Arabo-Islamic culture and, because of his stature as a communal figure, rabbinic scholar, court physician and philosopher, his role as a catalyst for cultural developments. For comparative purposes we also consider Maimonides' Andalusi contemporary, Ibn Rushd, the philosopher, Muslim jurist, physician and scholar of Islamic law.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Ross Brann (rb23)
Full details for NES 6540 : Moses Maimonides
NES 6560 Theory and Method in Near Eastern Studies

Requirement for NES majors. In this seminar we will read and discuss a range of theories and methods that have been employed by scholars in the interdisciplinary area of Near Eastern Studies. After giving attention to the historical development of area studies programs and their current status and relevance, we read a wide range of influential works in Near Eastern Studies, with special attention to the concept of "orientalism". Literary theory, anthropology, historiography, post-colonialism, archaeology, gender theory, and comparative religions are a few of the approaches, methods, and theories we will explore.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Deborah Starr (das86)
Full details for NES 6560 : Theory and Method in Near Eastern Studies
NES 6575 Myth and Religion in Mesopotamia

This course will survey the cultic practices and beliefs of ancient Babylonia and Assyria, the two major civilizations of Mesopotamia. We will examine the major myths of this region, e.g., Ishtar's Descent into the Netherworld, Etana, and Gilgamesh, in light of what they reveal about Mesopotamian religion, politics, and understanding of the afterlife. We will also examine the performance of magical rituals and incantations, methods of predicting the future, and the role of sacred marriage, prostitution, and slavery in the ancient temple.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Jonathan Tenney (jst229)
Full details for NES 6575 : Myth and Religion in Mesopotamia
NES 6670 Wealth and Power: Political Economy in Ancient Near Eastern States

Early states emerged when select groups gained control over wealth and power and institutionalized that control. How this was accomplished is a question of political economy that we can approach from archaeological, anthropological, and sociological perspectives. The course introduces students to the intellectual development of historical materialism in Smith, Marx, and Weber, among others, and traces their influence on later socioeconomic historians such as Polanyi and Finley. More recent approaches deriving from world-systems, gender studies, post-colonial studies, game theory, and network theory are then applied to case studies that include the emergence of a Mesopotamian state ca. 3400 BC, the Akkadian and Ur III empires, Old Babylonian and Old Assyrian trade, pharaonic Egypt, the international Late Bronze Age world, Aegean palatial civilization, and the Phoenicians. Students are welcome to present and write on other topics also. Monroe will provide context and clarification to assist with the specialist literature, but prior coursework in ancient studies will be advantageous in critically evaluating and writing about all the course readings.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Christopher Monroe (cmm253)
Full details for NES 6670 : Wealth and Power: Political Economy in Ancient Near Eastern States
NES 6672 Nationalism(s) in the Arab World

This seminar examines the emergence of national identities, nationalist movements, and nation-states in the modern Arab world. First, we will examine various approaches to the question of nationalism, using Benedict Anderson's Imagined Communities as our basic reference. We will then test the applicability of these general theories to the Arab World through our examination of specific case studies.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Ziad Fahmy (zaf3)
Full details for NES 6672 : Nationalism(s) in the Arab World
NES 6677 The Search for the Historical Muhammad

As the founder of Islam Muhammad is one of the most influential figures in world history. An important source for his life is the Sira of Ibn Ishaq (d. ca. 761), a biography that opens with Muhammad's birth ca. 570 and ends with his death in 632. If we take the narrative reports in this text at face-value, then Muhammad appears to have been born in the full light of history. But is the Sira a reliable source for the historical Muhammad? In this seminar, we will read this text in its entirely and analyze selected episodes from a critical historical perspective, with special attention to biblical and post-biblical models for the writing of sacred history.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: David Powers (dsp4)
Full details for NES 6677 : The Search for the Historical Muhammad
NES 6722 Graduate Colloquium

A series of lectures on a range of themes in the discipline sponsored by the Department of Near Eastern Studies. Presentations include lectures by invited speakers and works in progress presented by faculty and graduate students.

Academic Career: GR Full details for NES 6722 : Graduate Colloquium
NES 6880 Islam and the Ethnographic Imagination

How does one study Islam from an anthropological perspective?  Through close readings of recent ethnographies, canonical texts, theoretical works, and critiques of the genre, we will understand the major debates and intellectual trends that have defined the anthropology of Islam from its earliest inception through the present day.  Geographic areas covered include South Asia, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, America, North Africa, and West Africa.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Seema Golestaneh (sg2327)
Full details for NES 6880 : Islam and the Ethnographic Imagination
NES 6943 Life in Ruins

How do humans live with the ruins we create? What lifeways and lifeforms do ruins sustain? What forces cause the remnants of late modernity to endure or erode? Through the lens of archaeology, anthropology, philosophy, cultural geography, art, and architecture, this interdisciplinary seminar interrogates ruination as a condition of the human experience—one that has intensified in the afterlife of modernity, and one whose study might help us cope with advancing planetary decline, even as we work to curb it. For longer description and instructor bio, visit societyhumanities.as.cornell.edu/courses.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Lori Khatchadourian (lk323)
Full details for NES 6943 : Life in Ruins
NES 6992 Independent Study: Graduate Level

For graduate students who wish to do intensive reading on a focused topic. Students select a topic in consultation with the faculty member that has agreed to supervise the course.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Deborah Starr (das86)
Full details for NES 6992 : Independent Study: Graduate Level
NES 7533 The Lower East Side: Jews and the Immigrant City

American Jews have frequently been touted as a "model minority." This course will take a more critical look at the historical interactions between Jewish immigration, United States industrialization, and processes of social and geographical mobility—all through the prism of New York's Lower East Side, first home for over 750,000 Jewish immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe, the Ottoman Empire and elsewhere between the mid-19th century and the 1920s.  We will compare the Jewish experience to that of other immigrants/migrants by considering social institutions as well as material and other cultural practices. We will examine interactions with the built environment —most especially the tenement—in Lower East Side culture. Special attention will be paid to immigrant labor movement politics including strikes, splits, and gender in the garment trade. From the perspective of the present, the course will examine how commemoration, heritage tourism and the selling of [immigrant] history intersect with gentrifying real estate in an "iconic" New York City neighborhood. Projects using the ILR's archives on the Triangle Fire and other topics are explicitly encouraged. This course counts as an out of college elective for B. Arch and M. Arch students.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Elissa Sampson (ejs362)
Full details for NES 7533 : The Lower East Side: Jews and the Immigrant City
NES 7545 Sound, Silence & the Sacred

From the ringing of Tibetan singing bowls to the silence of desert monasticism, religious imagination and ritual is replete with sound and its absence. Cityscapes resound with church bells and calls from the minarets. Music, chanting, recitations, incantations, mantras, gongs-the world of religion is replete with ritualistic uses of sound. But sound goes even beyond ritual to the realm of the imaginary, which frequently contrasts the music of the gods with the noise of the demons. Sound and silence in such contexts are inherently tied to desire, temptation, and even salvation. This course will draw upon a wide array of sources-from texts to recordings, videos, and performances-to address the function and meaning of sound (and silence) within diverse religious traditions.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Kim Haines-Eitzen (kjh10)
Full details for NES 7545 : Sound, Silence & the Sacred
NES 7758 Archaeology of Greek Religion: Theory, Methods, and Practice

What is "religion," and how can we use material culture to investigate ancient beliefs and rituals? This course (1) explores major themes and problems in the archaeology of ancient Greek religion, and (2) compares and critiques selected theoretical and methodological approaches to the "archaeology of cult" more generally. Students will consider and analyze ritual artifacts, cult sites, and other aspects of religious material culture, as well as primary textual sources (in translation). 

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Caitlin Barrett (ceb329)
Full details for NES 7758 : Archaeology of Greek Religion: Theory, Methods, and Practice
NES 7913 Walter Benjamin

This extraordinary figure died in 1941, and his death is emblematic of the intellectual depredations of Nazism. Yet since World War II, his influence, his reputation, and his fascination for scholars in a wide range of cultural and political disciplines has steadily grown. He is seen as a bridging figure between German and Jewish studies, between materialist critique of culture and the submerged yet powerful voice of theology, between literary history and philosophy. We will review Benjamin's life and some of the key disputes over his heritage; read some of the best-known of his essays; and devote significant time to his enigmatic and enormously rich masterwork, the Arcades Project, concluding with consideration of the relevance of Benjamin's insights for cultural and political dilemmas today.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Jonathan Boyarin (jab857)
Full details for NES 7913 : Walter Benjamin
HEBRW 1102 Elementary Modern Hebrew II

Intended for beginners. Provides a thorough grounding in reading, writing, grammar, oral comprehension, and speaking. Students who complete the course are able to function in basic situations in a Hebrew-speaking environment.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Shalom Shoer (ss66)
Full details for HEBRW 1102 : Elementary Modern Hebrew II
HEBRW 1110 Beginning Biblical Hebrew

This course is designed to introduce students to the language, grammar, and vocabulary of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. By the end of the semester students will be able to read and understand a number of biblical narrative passages, drawn from texts such as the stories of: creation in the Garden of Eden, Noah's Ark, Joseph and his brothers, the Israelites' exodus from Egypt, David and Goliath, and others stories students are interested in reading in the original language.  Emphasis will be placed on learning vocabulary in context so that students begin to understand the language of the Bible as a window on ancient Israelite religion, culture, and experience.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Lauren Monroe (lm283)
Full details for HEBRW 1110 : Beginning Biblical Hebrew
HEBRW 2100 Intermediate Modern Hebrew

The course is aimed at training students in exact and idiomatic Hebrew, expanding vocabulary and usage of grammatical knowledge, and acquiring facility of expression in both conversation and writing. Uses written and oral exercises built around the texts. Reading and discussion of selections from Hebrew literature and Israeli culture through the use of texts and audiovisual materials.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Shalom Shoer (ss66)
Full details for HEBRW 2100 : Intermediate Modern Hebrew
HEBRW 3104 Advanced Hebrew through Language, Media and Literature

The course focuses and explores the development and changes of Modern Hebrew in all aspects of Israeli and Jewish culture.  A close reading of selected works of modern Hebrew fiction, poetry,  drama in their cultural and historical contexts and of the present-day influence on Israeli life. During the semester we'll be paying attention to students language skills, interests, building vocabulary, grammar review, and literary analysis of a sampling of modern texts.

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Nava Scharf (ns21)
Full details for HEBRW 3104 : Advanced Hebrew through Language, Media and Literature
ARAB 1202 Elementary Arabic II

This two-course sequence assumes no previous knowledge of Arabic and provides a thorough grounding in the four language skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. It starts with the alphabet and the number system and builds the four skills gradually and systematically through carefully selected and organized materials focusing on specific, concrete and familiar topics such as self identification, family, travel, food, renting an apartment, study, the weather, etc.). These topics are listed in the textbook's table of contents.  The student who successfully completes the two-course sequence will have mastered about 1000 basic words and will be able to: 1) understand and actively participate in conversations on a limited range of practical topics such as self-identification, family, school, work, the weather, travel, etc., 2) read and understand, with the help of a short list of words, passages of up to 180 words written in Arabic script, and 3) discuss orally in class and write a 50-word paragraph in Arabic.  The two-course sequence aims to take the student from the Novice to the Intermediate Mid level according to the ACTFL proficiency guidelines.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Bilal Al-Omar (bma57)
Full details for ARAB 1202 : Elementary Arabic II
ARAB 2202 Intermediate Arabic II

In this two-course sequence learners continue to develop the four language skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing and grammar foundation through the extensive use of graded materials on a wide variety of topics.  While more attention is given to developing native-like pronunciation and to grammatical accuracy than in ARAB 1201 and ARAB 1202, the main focus of the course will be on encouraging fluency and facility in understanding the language and communicating ideas in it.  The student who successfully completes this two-course sequence will have mastered over 1500 new words and will be able to: 1) understand and actively participate in conversations related to a wide variety of topics beyond those covered in ARAB 1201 and ARAB 1202, such as the history and geography of the Arab world, food and health, sports, economic matters, the environment, politics, the Palestine problem, etc. 2) read and understand, with the help of a short list of words, passages of up to 300 words, and 3) discuss orally in class and write a 150-word paragraph in Arabic with fewer grammatical errors than in ARAB 1202.  The two-course sequence aims to take the student from the Intermediate Mid to the Advanced Mid level according to the ACTFL proficiency guidelines.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Makda Weatherspoon (mgw49)
Full details for ARAB 2202 : Intermediate Arabic II
ARAB 2204 Introduction to Quranic Arabic

This course is designed for students who are interested in reading the language of the Qur'an with accuracy and understanding. The first week (4 classes) will be devoted to an introduction of the history of the Qur'an: the revelation, collection, variant readings, and establishment of an authoritative edition. The last week will be devoted to a general overview of "revisionist" literature on the Qur'an. In the remaining 12 weeks, we will cover all of Part 30 (Juz' 'Amma, suuras 78-114) and three suuras of varying length (36, 19, and 12).

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Munther Younes (may2)
Full details for ARAB 2204 : Introduction to Quranic Arabic
ARAB 3202 Advanced Arabic II

In this two-semester sequence, learners will be introduced to authentic, unedited Arabic language materials ranging from short stories, and poems, to newspaper articles dealing with social,  political,  and cultural issues. Emphasis will be on developing fluency in oral expression through discussions of issues presented in the reading and listening selections. There will be more focus on the development of native-like pronunciation and accurate use of grammatical structures than in the previous four courses. A primary objective of the course is the development of the writing skill through free composition exercises in topics of interest to individual students.  This course starts where ARAB 2202 leaves off and continues the development of the four language skills and grammar foundation using 18 themes, some new and some introduced in previous courses but are presented here at a more challenging level.  The student who successfully completes this two-course sequence have mastered over 3000 new words and will be able, within context of the 18 new and recycled themes to: 1) understand and actively participate in conversations, 2) read and understand, with the help of a short list of words, authentic, unedited passages of up to 400 words, and 3) discuss orally in class and write a 300-word paragraph in Arabic with fewer grammatical errors than in ARAB 2202.  The two-course sequence aims to take the student from the Advanced Mid to the Superior level according to the ACTFL proficiency guidelines.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Bilal Al-Omar (bma57)
Full details for ARAB 3202 : Advanced Arabic II
ARAB 3203 Arab Society and Culture

In this course students are introduced to different aspects of Arab society in modern times. Topics include family, religion, marriage, divorce, gender relations, refugees, minorities, civil conflict, human rights, the effects of Western colonialism, the Palestine issue, and the relationships of the Arab world with other countries, particularly the United States and Europe.  Students will prepare an assigned article ahead of time on which a class discussion will be based. They will then write a composition based on that discussion.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Abdel-Fattah Shahda (as3859)
Full details for ARAB 3203 : Arab Society and Culture
ARAB 3700 Arabic Language Through Film

The objective of this course is to help students develop all four communicative skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) through the use of Arabic films coupled with other structured materials such as study guides, short readings and other authentic resources. Each lesson focuses on student-centered and interactive activities that include pair or group work, role-play, debates, and class presentations.

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Makda Weatherspoon (mgw49)
Full details for ARAB 3700 : Arabic Language Through Film