Area concentrations/Middle East
About the program
AMES courses
Area concentrations
East Asia
Middle East concentration
South/Southeast Asia
Central Asia
Interregional Studies
Study abroad
Middle East (and North Africa) Concentration

Middle Eastern Studies is defined both by geography and by culture. The majority of its inhabitants are Muslim, but Christians and Jews have also played important roles in shaping Middle Eastern societies. The region has been the setting for major developments that have affected the course of human history; and, in the twentieth century, the discovery of oil has guaranteed its continuing importance to international affairs and the world economy. The AMES concentration in Middle Eastern Studies offers insight into the region from a variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives. Consequently, there are many possibilities for concentrations that go beyond current courses and faculty staffing and could include independent research and/or off-campus study in AMES' Foreign Study Program in Fez Morocco. Students should work closely with an adviser in the area of their interest. The Middle East faculty strongly encourages the sustained study of at least one relevant Middle Eastern language.


  • 1. Students concentrating on the Middle East must meet the general requirements of the AMES major: ten courses with one meeting AMES' Interregional Requirement and one being a Culminating Experience.
    For details see: AMES major requirements. Research undertaken for the Culminating Experience should conform with the student's area concentration.
  • 2. Students should identify a faculty advisor as soon as possible and should remain in close contact with that advisor through their Dartmouth career. Students should work closely with their faculty advisors to ensure that their major is intellectually coherent and not a random selection of courses. Use the Middle East area-concentration worksheet to plan your major.
  • 3. Courses should be selected from the list of Approved Courses for the Middle East Concentration (see below).
  • 4. Students may include up to two AMES 85 Independent Research courses provided they are supervised by an AMES affiliated faculty member with expertise in the Middle East. Students wishing to pursue advanced research should consider AMES 86 Advanced Independent Research.



AMES 4/ARAB 10 Introduction to Arab Culture
This course will provide a broad introduction to the historical, literary, artistic, and popular cultures of the Middle East, from pre-and early Islamic times to the present. The aim of the course is to give students an appreciation of Arab and Arabo-Islamic culture, but also to examine ways in which prevailing historical, political, economic, and social conditions have impacted cultural production and expression in the Middle East. Sources and texts will include, but not be limited to, selections from the Quran, hadith, Arabic poetry and literature, historical chronicles, and film. Required for the FSP, major and minor. Dist: LIT; WCult: CI (Smolin)

AMES 5/ANTH 27 Thought and Change in the Middle East and Central Asia
This course focuses on changing ideas of political and religious authority in the Middle East. Topics include how changing notions of personal, tribal, ethnic, and religious identities influence politics locally and internationally; religion and mass higher education; the multiple meanings and prospects of democracy; conflict over land and natural resources; political and economic migration; new communications media; the global and local bases for extremist movements; and the changing faces of Islam and other religions in the region's public spaces. Dist: SOC; WCult: NW (Abusharaf)

AMES 6/ANTH 19 Islam: An Anthropological Approach
This course integrates anthropological approaches to understanding Islam with textual and social historical ones. The anthropological approach values the study of sacred texts and practices as they are locally understood throughout the world and in different historical contexts. This course focuses on Islam as practiced in the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, Africa, Central Asia, and in Europe and North America. It seeks to appreciate the contributions of religious leaders and activists as much as ordinary believers, showing the multiple ways in which Muslims throughout the world have contributed to the vitality of the Islamic tradition. Many different people and groups, including violent ones, claim to speak for Islam. This course suggests ways of re-thinking increasingly vocal debates concerning "authentic" Islam and who speaks for it. Dist: SOC; WCult: CI (Eickelman)

AMES 8/REL 8 Introduction to Islam
This course will provide students with useful tools for reading about, thinking about, or otherwise engaging with Islam and Muslims. It is first a survey of important topics in the study of the religion of Islam, including the Qur'an and the Prophet, the role of Islamic mysticism, Islam and the state, Islamic law, and Islamic theories of family and person. We also discuss Orientalism and the western study of Islam, so that we can understand ourselves as students of the Islamic tradition. Dist: TMV; WCult: NW (Reinhart)

AMES 15/REL 16 Modern Islam
In all the attention focused on Islam at present, a newspaper reader could be forgiven for supposing that between Muhammad and Usamah bin Laden, there has been no change in Islam. This course surveys developments in Islamic religious history, thought, and practice since 1800, with special emphasis on topics of current controversy, including the status of women, the nature of government, and the place of Islamic law. Readings will be mostly from primary texts written by contemporary Muslims, both modernists and Islamists. Dist: TMV; WCult: NW (Reinhart)

AMES 17/HEBR 10/JWST 16 Introduction to Hebraic and Israeli Culture
This course explores the interaction of Hebrew literature, film, music, religion, and society. For millennia, Hebrew has had a unique spiritual hold on both the Jewish and Christian identity. We will focus on the Bible as wisdom, law, and poetry, the Talmud of the ancient Rabbis, Kabbalah and Hebrew alphabet mysticism, war and the Israeli cinema, Hebrew folk and rock culture, and a modern political mystery: how today's Hebrew created a new Jewish identity. No knowledge of Hebrew is required. Dist: LIT; WCult: CI (Glinert)

AMES 25/THEA 10/WGST 59.3 Unveiling the Harem Dancer
The historical legacy of Orientalism continues to perpetuate a stereotypical image of the exotic female dancing body. We will consider the Oriental dancer as an entry point to examine contexts of the colonial encounter, global circulation, and postcolonial conditions. We will also explore issues of gender and sexuality in Arab Islamic culture and address questions about the social agency of the female dancer. Materials include theoretical texts, travel accounts, films, and performances. Dist: INT; WCult: NW (Yessayan)

AMES 30/MUS 4 Global Sounds
A survey of music and music-making whose origins are in the non-European world. Examples include Indian raga, Middle Eastern maqam, West African drumming, Javanese gamelan, and Tuvan throat-singing. Course work will include listening, reading and critical writing assignments. Where possible, visiting musicians will be invited to demonstrate and discuss the music under consideration. Dist: ART; WCult: NW (Levin)

AMES 41.01/WGST 44.7 Feminism, Islam and Modernity in the Muslim World
This course examines the relationship between feminism in relation to Islam and state modernizing projects in modern nations-states of the Middle East and North Africa. We will identify problems and promises in theoretical paradigms and methodologies of writing about MENA women in feminist scholarship. We will study how the condition of MENA women have been shaped by the gendered nature of nationalist, Islamic, and imperialist discourses and how women have responded and participated in national debates, pious movements, social struggles, global impacts, and with feminism to voice their rights, narrate their selfhood, and articulate their own desires. Topics include: the family, veil, ritual, dance, education, citizenship, law, marriage, women's work, and activism. Case studies are from a variety of modern Arab or Muslim states with a strong focus on Egypt, including Algeria, Iran, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, and Sudan. Dist: SOC or INT; WCult: NW (Yessayan)

AMES 41.06 Reporting the Arab Spring
This course focuses on journalistic coverage of the "Arab Spring," subsequent regional developments, including foreign intervention, the collapse or reshaping of government authority, and the rise of ISIS and violent extremism in the Middle East and abroad. We also consider the role of Saudi Arabia, Iran, and their proxies in the ongoing conflicts. Readings are drawn from news reports, longform articles, and personal essays, and will be supplemented by documentary films. Dist: INT or SOC; WCult: NW (Gillis)

AMES 45/*MUS 45.03 /JWST 57 Topics in World Music: The Music of Central Asia
The course will focus on music in Central Eurasia-the core region of the historical Silk Road-and on musical connections between Central Asia and regions to which it has been historically linked by trade and cultural exchange. Course work includes reading and critical writing as well as listening and viewing assignments. No prerequisite. Dist: ART; WCult: NW (Levin)

Foreign Study Program in Fez, Morocco:
AMES 53: Discovering an Islamic City (formerly AMES 33) This course analyzes the historical and contemporary urban life of a traditional Islamic city as seen through the eyes of the town's scholars, planners, educators, writers, and crafts people, as well as scholarly readings that have shaped discussions in anthropology, history, and the history of religions. Fez is the locus of classical discussions of urbanism, public space, and civic life in the Muslim world. Dist: SOC; WCult: NW (faculty) D.F.SP.

AMES 54: Arabic as a Cultural System
Examines the historical and cultural factors and forces that have molded and continue to mold colloquial Moroccan Arabic. This course includes an appreciation of the nonverbal aspects-gestures and body language-of communication and identity in the Moroccan setting. It also offers a minimal functional mastery of practical communicative skills-the sound system, basic sentence patterns, and everyday vocabulary of colloquial Moroccan Arabic-as well as a knowledge of the Arabic script, a key element of Islamic civilization and identity. Dist: WCult: NW (Faculty) D.F.S.P.

AMES 55.01/ANTH 50.2 Religion, Reason and Reform in Morocco
This course introduces religion in Morocco, and how Islam (and other faiths) relate to Moroccan society, politics, and culture and to the Middle East and Mediterranean worlds. Secular and religious movements in Morocco, as in Tunisia and Algeria - France's other former colonies - show profound political contrasts and have a vital impact on European societies today. The course also explores how the study of North Africa, particularly Morocco, has contributed significantly to ongoing debates over understanding the role of religion and politics in contemporary social life. Dist: SOC; WCult: NW (Eickelman) D.F.S.P.

AMES 55.02/REL 28 Topics in the Study of Islam
This course will focus on a particular topic in Islamic studies, with an emphasis on the most recent research in that field. The topic will vary with each offering, so the course may be taken more than once. Sample topics include: "The Islam of Morocco," "Shi'ism," and "Problems in Popular Islam." Dist: TMV; WCult: NW (Reinhart) D.F.S.P.

AMES 55.03/GOVT 81.08 Political Economy of Development in the Middle East
The economies of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have historically enjoyed unique roles in their relationship to the global economy: either as colonies or dependencies, with their economies geared toward the interests of the métropole or, more recently, as peripheral economies after their independence, or as energy suppliers to the world. This course focuses on the challenges and opportunities of the most current phase of globalization economies in MENA face that started with the oil boom of 2003. We investigate initially the prognostications of the Washington Consensus, particularly its central argument that the need for neo-liberal reform in the region would led to, and be reinforced, by political liberalization. Using institutional theories, we then discuss how a unique combination of historical legacies, the nature of resources, and financial crisis, led to a re-evaluation of development paradigms in MENA that increasingly included attention to good governance and human resource development. The case studies include distinct sets of countries across the region: the Arab republics, the MENA monarchies, and the Arab Gulf countries. The final section of the course looks at the interaction between national, regional, and global economies of the region. Dist: SOC; WCult: NW (Vandewalle) D.F.S.P.

AMES 85 Independent Research (with a Middle Eastern topic)

AMES 86 Advanced Independent Research (with a Middle Eastern topic)

AMES 87 Honors Thesis (with a Middle Eastern topic)

Other Middle East courses accepted for AMES credit:

  • ANTH 15 Political Anthropology (with Middle Eastern Studies faculty and topics) (Eickelman)
  • ARTH 16 Islamic Architecture (Camerlenghi)
  • ARTH 20 The Art of Ancient Egypt and the Ancient Near East (Kangas)
  • ARAB 11 Special Topics in Arabic Studies (FSP)
  • ARAB 21, 22, 23 Intermediate Arabic (Chahboun, Ouajjani)
  • ARAB 25 Moroccan Arabic (Chahboun)
  • ARAB 31, 32, 33 Intermediate Modern Arabic (faculty)
  • ARAB 41, 42, 43 Advanced Arabic (faculty)
  • ARAB 59 Independent Advanced Study in Arabic Language and Literature (faculty)
  • ARAB 61 Topics in Modern Arabic Literature and Culture (faculty)
  • ARAB 62 Topics in Classical Arabic Literature and Culture (faculty)
  • ARAB 63 Themes in Arabic Literature and Culture
  • ARAB 81 Topics in Arabic Literature and Culture (faculty)
  • HEBR 21, 22 Intermediate Modern Hebrew (faculty)
  • HEBR 23 Intermediate Modern Hebrew (Ben Yehuda)
  • HEBR 31, 32, 33 Advanced Modern Hebrew (faculty)
  • HEBR 51 The Hebrew of the Bible (Ben Yehuda)
  • HEBR 52 Readings in Biblical Hebrew (Ben Yehuda)
  • HEBR 59 Independent Advanced Study in Hebrew Language and Literature (Glinert)
  • HEBR 61 Topics in Modern Hebrew Literature and Culture (Glinert)
  • HEBR 62 Topics in Classical Hebrew Literature and Culture (Glinert)
  • HEBR 63 Themes in Hebrew Literature and Culture (Glinert)
  • HEBR 81 Topics in Hebrew Literature and Culture (faculty)
  • COLT 53 Middle Eastern Literature (faculty)
  • FILM 42 National Cinemas: North African Cinema
  • GEOG 41/WSGT 37 Gender, Space and Islam
  • GEOG 48 Geographies of the Middle East (faculty)
  • GOVT 24 Development in Emerging Economies (Vandewalle)
  • GOVT 25 Problems of Political Development: India, South Africa and China (Sa'adah)
  • GOVT 40 Topics in Area Politics: The Arab Uprising (Vandewalle)
  • GOVT 46 Politics of the Middle East and North Africa (Vandewalle)
  • GOVT 47 The Arab-Israeli Conflict (Sa'adah)
  • GOVT 81.3 Economic Growth and Reform in the Emerging Economies (Vandewalle)
  • GOVT 84.23 Politics of Peace in the Middle East (Sa'adah)
  • HIST 5.2 Introduction to the Modern Middle East (Turkyilmaz)
  • HIST 68 History of North Africa from the Arrival of Islam to the Present (Trumbull)
  • HIST 69 Islam in Africa (Trumbull)
  • HIST 96.2 Topics in Islamic Africa (faculty)
  • JWST 6 Introduction to Judaism (identical to Religion 6) (Benor)
  • JWST 10 History and Culture of the Jews: The Classical Period (faculty)
  • JWST 41 Art and Archaeology of Israel (Kangas)
  • JWST 41.3 Cities of the Biblical World: An Archaeological Approach (Kangas)
  • JWST 66 Jewish Society in Northern Africa
  • REL 4 Religion of Israel: The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) (faculty)
  • REL 6 Introduction to Judaism (Benor)
  • REL 8 Introduction to Islam (Reinhart)
  • REL 21 Judaism in Late Antiquity: The Rabbinic Revolution (faculty)
  • REL 23 Jewish Mysticism (Benor)
  • REL 25 Islamic Mysticism (Sufism) (Reinhart)
  • REL 27 The Qur'an and the Prophet (faculty)
  • REL 33 Christians, Jews and Muslims in the Age of the Crusades (MacEvitt)
  • SOCY 22 The Sociology of International Development (with a Middle Eastern topic) (Parsa)
  • SOCY 23 Social Movements (with a Middle Eastern topic)
  • SOCY 25 Democracy and Democratization in Developing Countries (with a Middle Eastern topic) (Parsa)

Administrator, Ann Fenton
Last Modified September 14, 2015