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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: The Politics of History in the Arabic-Speaking World (c.1750-Present) (PGHC11589)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryWhat do processes of archive building and history writing tell us about the Arabic-speaking world in the modern period? This course looks at the emergence of history as significant space for the articulation of the region's presents and futures. Using an in-depth case-study approach, it interrogates the construction of the region's historiographical ecosystems as a space where different actors negotiated their visions of self, state, and society.
Course description The course examines how writing history in the Arabic-speaking world was itself a historical process, one that is deeply intertwined with political, social, and material processes that have made the modern Middle East. Taking an in-depth case-study approach, it explores the evolution of history writing in different settings and at different moments in time. The course spans the eighteenth century to the present, and includes case studies from Syria, Egypt, Palestine, Algeria, and Saudi Arabia. Each case elucidates the stakes involved in writing history, and sheds light on the changing authority to tell the past (and use it to shape the present).

The course examines the development of historiography along two axes. The first is the development of the field from pre-modern Arabo-Islamic modes of writing history, tracing the syncretic manner in which the modern professional discipline was developed using the methods and forms of older traditions of knowledge. The second is tracing the use of history by states and non-state actors in particular moments of upheaval and transition -- collapse of empires, nation-state building, revolutions, regime consolidation -- as an entry point to unpacking the narrative battles before the consolidation of now-hegemonic narratives. Overall, it unpacks history's relationship to power in the modern Middle East. The course seeks to expand the history of historiography of the Middle East beyond historians, their methods, and their texts. It examines the broader historiographic ecosystem from which historical knowledge emerged, this includes the compilation of collections, the establishment of institutions, the formation of scholars, the reordering of urban space, and the dissemination of knowledge. It explores how men (and some women) have contributed to processes of telling the past, and how these processes provide a glimpse into their view of their self, their society, the states that were (re)forming, and their encounter with the colonising other.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 History courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  15
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 90 %, Practical Exam 10 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework:
1,000 word essay (20%)
4,000 word final paper (70%)

Non-Written Skills:
Seminar Participation (10%)
Feedback Students are expected to discuss their coursework with the Course Organiser at least once prior to submission, and are encouraged to do so more often. Meetings can take place with the Course Organiser during their published office hours or by appointment. Students will also receive feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser.

Students will receive formative feedback in two ways. The first is through feedback on their Essay 1, due in the middle of the semester. The second is through conversations around defining their research papers. Students will be required to develop their proposal and discuss with me in advance, which will serve as the space where they get personalised and detailed feedback on their projects.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Illustrate an understanding of the theories and methods used in the critical study of the history of historiography, and their specific applications to the modern Middle East.
  2. Critically appraise the literature on history writing and archive building in the modern Middle East, and their impact on state and society.
  3. Employ relevant scholarly and research skills: the ability to develop complex research arguments in oral and written form, the ability to critically reflect on and synthesize knowledge, and the ability to formulate questions and address them using appropriate evidence.
  4. Practice a significant degree of autonomy, originality of thought, intellectual integrity, an attitude of maturity and humility towards peers and knowledge.
Reading List
Bsheer, Rosie. Archive Wars: The Politics of History in Saudi Arabia / Rosie Bsheer. Stanford Studies in Middle Eastern and Islamic Societies and Cultures. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2020.

Bustani, Butrus al-. The Clarion of Syria: A Patriot's Call against the Civil War of 1860 / Butrus al-Bustani. Oakland: University of California Press, 2019.

Di-Capua, Yoav. Gatekeepers of the Arab Past: Historians and History Writing in Twentieth-Century Egypt / Yoav Di-Capua. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009.

Jabarti, 'Abd al-Rahman. Napoleon in Egypt: Al-Jabarrti's Chronicle of the French Occupation, 1798 / Translation by Shmuel Moreh; Introduction by Robert L. Tignor. Expanded edition in honor of Al-Jabarti's 250th birthday. Princeton, N.J: M. Wiener, 2004.

Khalidi, Tarif. Arabic Historical Thought in the Classical Period. Cambridge, GBR: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Sajdi, Dana. The Barber of Damascus Nouveau Literacy in the Eighteenth-Century Ottoman Levant / Dana Sajdi. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2013.

Trouillot, Michel-Rolph. Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History / Michel-Rolph Trouillot; with a New Foreword by Hazel V. Carby. Boston: Beacon Press, 2015.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Curiosity for learning that makes a positive difference: an inquisitive approach to grounding students' understanding of the contemporary Middle East in relevant historiographical debates.

Passion to engage locally and globally: ability to discern how global historical currents have shaped the modern Middle East and have been shaped by it.

Ability to answer complex questions drawing on primary and secondary sources.

Ability to critically reflect on primary sources and the conditions of their creation.

Ability to present analysis clearly to an audience.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Hana Sleiman
Course secretaryMr Rob Hutchinson
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