Course Detail

195:316: Politics, Literature, and the Arts – Ottoman Middle East

This introduction to the cultural history of the modern Middle East surveys the background for contexts ranging from the Syrian conflict and the global refugee crisis to “political Islam” in the modern world; to the Israeli-Palestian conflict, the Arab spring, the emergence of ISIS and the modern Armenian struggle for culture and identity. The modern Middle East was born out of the ashes of a Muslim empire about a century ago. This empire once covered most of North Africa and the Middle East and parts of Eastern Europe. While nationalist movements forged new identities, the Ottoman empire crumbled in the 19th century, and the 20th century brought a colonial war to this part of the world. The idea of Islam went through a speedy transformation in the mean time, while Europe’s scramble for African resources had repercussions not only for the North African subjects of the empire but across the Middle East. The first negotiations for a Jewish homeland in Palestine took place in this final era of Ottoman rule of the Middle East, when the Armenian genocide and other atrocities left indelible marks in world history. The cultural archive of Ottoman modernity responds to these seismic events. We will read historical accounts and memoirs, essays, articles, novels, classical and modern poetry to trace the birth of the modern Middle East out of Ottoman decline, Western colonial aggression, and national struggles. All readings in English. Course Cross-listing: 013:320:01;/ 01:685:396:01