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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Divinity

Undergraduate Course: Religion and Culture in the Modern Middle East (DIVI10115)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Divinity CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryReligious diversity animates much of the cultural, intellectual, and political development in the modern Middle East. This course seeks to investigate the complexities of cultural formation in the Middle East. From early Christian Arabists in the Levantine and Druze intellectuals investigating Islamic civilizational decline and renovation to the rise of televangelism and embattled religiosities after the Arab Spring, this course applies a multi-method approach to the question of culture and cultural production. Students will have the opportunity to explore the question of religion and culture in film, music, literature, news reports (in translation) as well as exploring secondary literature.
Course description Academic Description
This course provides students with an intradisciplinary approach to the study of religion, religious communities, intellectuals, revolutionaries, and reformists in culture-making in the modern Middle East. It covers a wide range of topics that highlight the complexity and internal diversity of cultural and religious formations from the early 19th century to the present day. By incorporating a study of primary sources - such as film, intellectual scholarship from the region, and news articles - to burgeoning literature, this course aims at a well rounded and expansive understanding of religion and culture. It will highlight the ways in which the the experiences the Middle East has had with modernization, secularization, religious resurgence, and conflict are contested both in society and in scholarship. As such, the goal of this course is to orient students to a deeper understanding of the political, social, cultural, and religious transformations that have developed as a result of modernity and modernization in the Middle East.

Outline Content
The course aims to provide students with pertinent skills that enables them to develop broader understandings of religion and culture in the modern Middle East. Beginning from a study of the religious, intellectual, and political history to sectarian relations, gender, and religious revivalism. The course provides students with deeper insights into the role religious communities have played in culture-making in different political settings and historical moments. The topics this course covers ranges from the role of 19th and 20th century Christian intellectuals, Jewish revolutionaries, and Muslim and Druze thinkers and reformists in building the intellectual foundations of Arabism, communism, and Pan-Islamism. It will then examine the cultural impact of religious revival in the media as well as it pertains to debates on womanhood, piety, and agency and the role televangelists had in propagating for this revival. The course explores the question of embattled identities in the Middle East: from debates within Israel/Palestine about Druze identities and Mizrahi Jewish belonging. Students will also study the wide representations of Muslim-Christian relations in film - particularly in the Lebanese and Egyptian contexts as well as sectarian relations in the aftermath of the Iraq war. Finally, the course explores religion and religious identities during and after the Arab Spring and how religion impacted music and song in the region. In doing so, the students will have a nuanced, historically rooted, geographically and diverse understanding of religion and culture in the modern Middle East.

Student Learning Experience
The course will include one hour lecture and one-hour seminar and presentations by the students. The lecture will provide the students with a background understanding of the course readings. The one-hour seminar will include a 10 minute student presentation and a class seminar. Furthermore, the syllabus will include films, documentaries, music, and newspaper articles to consult. Students will be assessed on one class presentations and two essays - a mid-semester essay and a final semester essay.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  27
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 172 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 80 %, Practical Exam 20 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Presentation 20%
Mid-semester essay: 35%; 2000 words
Final essay: 45%; 2500 words
Feedback Students will have the opportunity to see me in office hours for official feedback general questions about upcoming assignments, sources and reading material. They will also be given the option to ask for feedback on essay plans.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Analyze religious formations of the culture, subjectivity, and intellectual thought
  2. Examine the theoretical and applied dimensions of lived religion in the Middle East
  3. Evaluate the religious diversity and interreligious debates in the Middle East
  4. Analyze the role of the media and literature in forming religious dialogue and debate
  5. Explain the political significance of religion and culture in times of crisis
Reading List
o Abu-Lughod, Lila. 1986. Veiled sentiments: Honor and poetry in a Bedouin society. University of California Press.
o Agaoglu, Adalet. 1997. Curfew: A novel, trans. John Goulden. University of Texas Press.
o Ahmed, Akbar, S. 2003. Islam under siege: Living dangerously in a post-honor world. Polity Press.
o Ateek, Naim Stifan, ed. A Palestinian theology of liberation: The bible, justice, and the Palestine-Israel conflict. Orbis Books, 2017.
o Azari, Farah (ed.). 1983. Women of Iran: The conflict with fundamentalist Islam. Ithaca Press.
o Bader, Ali. The Tobacco Keeper. Bloomsbury, 2011.
o Bashkin, Orit. New Babylonians: A History of Jews in Modern Iraq. Stanford University Press, 2012.
o Bates Daniel G. and Amal Rassam. 2000. Peoples and cultures of the Middle East, 2nd Edition. Prentice Hall.
o Beinin, Joel. "Henri Curiel and the Egyptian Communist Movement." Radical History Review 1989, no. 45 (1989): 157-163.
o Beinin, Joel. Dispersion of Egyptian Jewry: Culture, Politics, and the Formation of Modern Diaspora. University of California Press, 1998.
o Betts, Robert Brenton. The Druze. Yale University Press, 1988.
o Brenneman, Robert L. 2007. As strong as mountains: A Kurdish cultural journey. Waveland Press.
o Bushnaq, Inea (ed.). 1986. Arab folktales. Pantheon Books.
o Caton, Steven C. 1990. Peaks of Yemen I Summon: Poetry as cultural practice in a north Yemen tribe. University of California Press.
o Chatty, Dawn. 1996. Mobile pastoralists: Development planning and social change in Oman. Columbia University Press.
o Cleveland, William L. and Martin Bunton. 2008. A history of the modern Middle East, 4th Edition. Westview Press.
o Cole, Donald and Soraya Altorki. 1998. Bedouin, settlers, and holiday-makers: Egypt¿s changing northwest coast. American University in Cairo Press.
o Dahl, Robert A. 1991. Modern political analysis, 5th Edition. Prentice Hall.
o Deeb, Lara. 2006. An enchanted modern: Gender and public piety in Shi¿i Lebanon. Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics. Princeton University Press
o Denny, Frederick M. 1996. An introduction to Islam, 2nd Edition. Macmillan.
o Eickelman, Dale, F., and James Piscatori. 1996. Muslim politics. Princeton University Press. Esposito, John L. 1998. Islam: The straight path. Oxford University Press.
o El-Falaky, Mai Samir. "The Representation of Women in Street Songs: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Egyptian Mahraganat." Advances in Language and Literary Studies 6, no. 5 (2015): 1-8.
o Farouk-Alli, Aslam. "Sectarianism in Alawi Syria: Exploring the Paradoxes of Politics and Religion." Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 34.3 (2014): 207-26
o Firro, Kais M. "Druze maq¿m¿t (shrines) in Israel: From ancient to newly-invented tradition." British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 32, no. 2 (2005): 217-239.
o Fuller, Graham E. and Rend Rahim Francke. ¿The Arab Shi¿a in the Sunni State.¿ In The Arab Shi¿a: The Forgotten Muslims. St Martin¿s Press, 1999.
o Gerges, Fawaz A. 1999. America and political Islam: Clash of Cultures or Clash of Interests? Cambridge University Press.
o Halabi, Rabah. "Invention of a nation: The Druze in Israel." Journal of Asian and African Studies 49, no. 3 (2014): 267-281.
o Hayoun, Massoud. When We Were Arabs: A Jewish Family¿s Forgotten History. The New Press, 2019.
o Heggy, Tarek. 2003. Culture, civilization, and humanity. Frank Cass. Held, David. 2006. Models of democracy, 3rd Edition. Stanford University Press.
o Held, Colbert C. 1989. Middle East patterns: Places, peoples, and politics. Westview Press
o Hourani, Albert. 1991. A history of the Arab peoples. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
o Hubbard, Mark. 1999. Warriors of the Prophet: The struggle for Islam. Westview Press.
o Ibrahim, Mina. "A minority at the bar: Revisiting the Coptic Christian (in-) visibility." Social Compass 66, no. 3 (2019): 366-382.
o Ibrahim, Mina. "For the sake of Marguirguis: The Coptic Christian khidma as a divine community." Endowment Studies 4, no. 1-2 (2020): 66-91.
o Ibrahim, Mina. Identity, Marginalisation, Activism, and Victimhood in Egypt: Misfits in the Coptic Christian Community. Springer Nature, 2023.
o Ibrahim, Vivian. ¿Tracing the Coptic Question in Contemporary Egypt.¿ In Rowe, The Routledge Handbook of Minorities in the Middle East, Routledge, 2019
o Jabbur, Jibrail S. 1996. The bedouins and the desert. Aspects of nomadic life in the Arab east. Trans. Lawrence I. Conrad. State University of New York Press.
o Juergensmeyer, Mark. 2003. Terror in the mind of God: The rise of religious violence. University of California Press.
o Keane, John. 1996. Reflections on violence. Verso. Khalidi, Rashid. 1997. Palestinian identity: The construction of modern national consciousness. Columbia University Press.
o Khoury, Nabil Abdo. Islam and modernization in the Middle East: Muhammad Abduh, an ideology of development. State University of New York at Albany, 1976.
o Labaki, Nadie. Where Do We Go Now. Scanbox Entertainment Denmark, 2012.
o Lawrence, Bruce B. 1998. Shattering the myth: Islam beyond violence. Princeton University Press.
o Lewis, Bernard. 1993. Islam and the West. Oxford University Press. Lipset,
o Lewis, Bernard. 2002. What went wrong? Western impact and Middle Eastern response. Oxford University Press.
o Little, Douglas. 2008. American orientalism: the United States and the Middle East since 1945, Third Edition. University of North Carolina Press Lockman
o Lunde, Paul. 2002. Islam: faith, culture, history. DK Publishing.
o Macmillan. 2004. Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim world, Macmillan Reference.
o Makdisi, Ussama. ¿The Problem of Sectarianism in the Middle East in an Age of Western Hegemony¿ in Hashemi and Postel. Sectarianization: Mapping the New Politics of the Middle East, Oxford U, 2017
o Mango, Andrew. 2004. The Turks today. Overlook.
o Mansfield, Peter. 2004. A history of the Middle East. Penguin Books.
o Masters, Bruce. Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Arab world: the roots of sectarianism. Cambridge University Press, 2004.
o Maya Schatzmiller, ed. Nationalism and Minority Identities in Islamic Societies. McQueen¿s University Press, 2005. ¿ Moshe Behar and Zvi Ben-Dor Benite, Modern Middle Eastern Jewish Thought: Writings on Identity, Politics, & Culture, 1893-1958. Brandeis University Press, 2013
o Mayer, Ann Elizabeth. 1999. Islam and human rights: Tradition and politics, 3rd Edition. Westview Press.
o Mills, Margaret. 1991. Rhetorics and politics in traditional Afghan storytelling. University of Pennsylvania Press.
o Milton-Edwards, Beverly. 2006. Contemporary politics in the Middle East. Blackwell Publishers.
o Mir-Hosseini, Ziba. 1993. Marriage on trial: A study of Islamic family law: Iran and Morocco compared. St. Martin¿s Press.
o Moussa Nabo, Mitra. "Eastern Christian Subjectivities and Islam¿s Hegemony in the Arab World." Middle East Christianity: Local Practices, World Societal Entanglements (2020): 25-47.
o Nooshin, Laudan, ed. Music and the play of power in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2009.
o Nooshin, Laudan. "Prelude: Power and the play of music." In Music and the Play of Power in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, pp. 19-50. Routledge, 2016.
o Parekh, Bhikhu. 2000. Rethinking multiculturalism: Cultural diversity and political theory. Harvard University Press.
o Peddie, Ian. "Music, Religion and Protest." The Bloomsbury Handbook of Religion and Popular Music (2017): 32-42.
o Peterson, Mark Allen. 2011. Connected in Cairo: Growing up cosmopolitan in the modern Middle East. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
o Philips, Miray. "¿We love martyrdom, but we also love life¿: Coptic cultural trauma between martyrdom and rights." American journal of cultural sociology (2022): 1-28.
o Rahman, Fazlur. 1979. Islam, 2nd Edition. University of Chicago Press
o Riklis, Eran. The Syrian Bride. Eran Riklis Productions, 2004.
o Roskin, Michael G. and James J Coyle. 2007. Politics of the Middle East: Cultures and conflicts, 2nd Edition. Prentice Hall.
o Said, Edward. 1979. Orientalism: Western conceptions of the Orient. Vintage Press.
o Sanchez Garcia, Jose, and Carles Feixa Pampols. "In My Name and the Name of All People Who Live in Misery: Rap in the Wake of Revolution in Tunisia and Egypt." Young 28, no. 1 (2020): 85-100.
o Sharkey, Heather J. A History of Muslims, Christians, and Jews in the Middle East (New York: Cambridge UP, 2017).
o Shatzmiller, Maya. 2005. Nationalism and minority identities in Islamic societies. McGill Queens University Press.
o Stewart, Dona J. 2009. The Middle East today: Political, geographical, and cultural perspectives. New York: Routledge.
o Tapper, Richard. 1997. Frontier nomads of Iran: A political and social history of the Shasevan. Cambridge University Press.
o Varzi, Roxanne. 2006. Warring souls: Youth, media, and martyrdom in post-Revolution Iran. Duke University Press.
o Zachary. 2004. Contending visions of the Middle East: the history and politics of Orientalism. New York: Cambridge University Press.
o Zubaida, Sami. "Cosmopolitanism and the Middle East." In Cosmopolitanism, identity and authenticity in the Middle East, pp. 15-33. Routledge, 2014.
o Zuhur, Sherifa, (ed.). 1999. Images of enchantment: Visual and performing arts of the Middle East. Columbia University Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will develop a greater understanding of religion in a more embodied form.
Students will develop intercultural skills possible through a greater regional literacy.
Students will be more competitive in an international job market
KeywordsMiddle East,Religion,Culture,Islam,Christianity,Judaism,Druze
Course organiserDr Walaa Quisay
Course secretaryMiss Rachel Dutton
Tel: (0131 6)50 7227
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