Dr. Gesink's HIS 389I syllabus


HISTORY 389I Office: 308 Marting Hall
MODERN MIDDLE EAST Office Hours: MW 2:30-4 PM & by appt.
Spring 2006 Syllabus Office phone: 440-826-2280
Dr. Gesink


Link to course web site: http://www.bw.edu/academics/his/faculty/igesink/

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This is an introduction to the history of the Middle East in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  The dominant theme of the course is Middle Eastern peoples' rediscovery of their own traditions as means to grapple with western political and economic domination.   Topics include 19th century reformism (political, military, economic, and religious) in the Ottoman Empire, the Qajar Empire, and Egypt; cycles of economic dependency; imperialism; the Arab-Israeli conflict; the Islamic Revolution in Iran; Saddam Hussein and the Gulf Wars; the rise of politicized Islam and extremist groups such as Osama bin Ladin’s al-Qa’ida network. Throughout the course, we will be dealing with enduring questions of political philosophy in the Middle East: Who should lead the community? What is the purpose of leadership? Which is more important, justice or order? What is the best way to organize a society, and what roles should ordinary people play in that society? How has western domination influenced Middle Eastern theories of government and resistance?


  • Reading Quizzes and Participation (20%): Be prepared to answer one-question quizzes on your readings and to refer to the sources during in-class discussion or debate. The syllabus may list questions that direct you to the important themes in the primary sources for that week.
  • Three Exams (20% each): The exams will be objective questions (multiple choice, true/false, and map labeling) and short answer. The essay portion of the final exam is comprehensive.  You will be given a list of possible essay questions one week before the exams. Two of the essays will appear on the exam; you will answer one.  See my web site for hints on preparing essay questions.
  • Research Paper and Research Assignments (20%): This class will require an 8-10 page research paper on a topic relating to the class. To help you choose and investigate a topic, I will have you do a series of short assignments. Grades on the research assignments make up 5% of your research paper grade. Revised research assignments must be turned in with the final research paper.
  • Extra Credit: Limited extra credit is available to students who participate in activities relating to modern Middle Eastern history or culture and write a short review of the activity (activities include watching documentaries or movies, reading memoirs, novels, or short stories, going to art exhibits or lectures, or visiting mosques - check with me first).  See Extra Credit Policy on the web site.


  • Sources in the History of the Modern Middle East, by Akram Fouad Khater (K). Primary sources.
  • Orientalism, by Edward Said (S). An influential study of the way power affects knowledge, in this case westerners’ knowledge of colonized people.
  • Readings on Blackboard (B).  Primary sources, articles, maps, and study guides.  
  • A History of the Modern Middle East, by William Cleveland, 3rd ed. (C).  Optional textbook. Recommended for students who plan to work in a field related to the Middle East or who may miss classes. You can download a schedule of readings from this text from Blackboard.

COURSE SCHEDULE: Readings and assignments should be done by the day for which they are assigned.

UNIT ONE: Modernity, Economic Dependency, and the Search for Communal Identity  

M 1/9 Introduction.

W 1/11 Background: Diversity in Land, Languages, Ethnic Groups, and Religions. Review of early Islamic history through 1800. S: 1-9. Discussion questions: What is an Orientalist? What is Orientalism? What is "cultural hegemony"? Please hand in a copy of your student ID (color copy preferred) with the following information: (1) Your year in school, (2) your major, (3) your reason for taking this class, (4) the name by which you would prefer me to call you, if not the same as on your ID, (5) your email address, if not your B-W one, (6) and something to help me remember you.

F 1/13 An Era of Transformation: Justice vs. Order in the Ottoman Empire. S: 9-top of 20. Discussion questions: How does Said clarify what "Orientalism" means?

M 1/16 Martin Luther King Jr. Day - no class

W 1/18 An Era of Transformation: Justice vs. Order under Muhammad ‘Ali, Ottoman governor of Egypt. S: 20-28.

F 1/20 GROUP DISCUSSION EXERCISE: Locate and print out Discussion Assignment #1 on Blackboard, and use the questions posed there to analyze the following sources: S: 31-49; K: 1-9 (intro), 48-51 (Balta Liman treaty). Completion of this exercise is important, because later discussion assignments will require you to analyze primary sources.

M 1/23 The Ottoman Tanzimat. K: 10-18 (the Hatt-i sherif of Gulhane and Islahat Fermani); S: 49-61. Recommended extra credit film: Pascali’s Island.

W 1/25 The Crisis of 1876, Sultan 'Abdul Hamid II, and the Young Turks. K: 64-65 (Tobacco smuggling); S: 61-73.

F 1/27  Islamic Reform Movements. K: 19-21 (the "modern" citizen), 29-35 (Afghani), 66-70 (Tahtawi), 74-83 (Qasim Amin); B: Notes on Modernization theory; S: 73-83. Discussion questions: What do you think it means to these authors to be "modern"? How do they construct modernity? In what ways are Orientalism and Modernization Theory similar?

M 1/30 Imperialism and Capitalism in Egypt: the 'Urabi Revolt. K: 51-54 (Public Debt Administration), 54-57 (Suez Convention); S: 83-92. EXAM STUDY GUIDE AVAILABLE ON BLACKBOARD.

W 2/1 Imperialism and Capitalism in the Qajar Empire of Persia: the Tobacco Protests and the Constitutional Revolution. K: 38-48 (Turkmanchai treaty), 62-64 (Tobacco concession); B: D'Arcy Concession for Iranian Oil; S: 92-100. Discussion questions: Using evidence from capitulations treaties and/or development concessions, explain how these economic agreements contributed to the development of economic dependency in Persia. (You may want to consider whether Persia’s economic development followed the same pattern as Egypt’s.)

F 2/3 Oil and the Creation of the Gulf States. B: Ahmad: a Kuwaiti pearl diver and Kuwait Treaty; S: 100-110. Discussion questions: What was Kuwaiti society like before the discovery of oil? How did it change? What did Ahmad the pearl diver think of the old system of debt and diving--was it oppressive? What was "modernity" to Ahmad the pearl diver? Heuristic question exercise due. See Blackboard Assignments for instructions.


UNIT TWO: World War I and the Creation of the "Modern Middle East"

W 2/8-F 2/10 World War I and the Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. K: 182-193 (Armenians); S: 111-123. . Discussion questions: How does Said describe how ideas about Orientals are passed on? What happened to the Armenians during WWI? Recommended extra credit film: Lawrence of Arabia.

M 2/13 Conflicting Promises and the Paris Peace Conference. K: 193-200 (Zionist memo), 200-202 (Syrian Resolution), 203-209 (King-Crane), 209-211 (al-Asima), 128-131 (Husayn-McMahon Correspondence), 131-136 (Balfour Declaration); B: Tripartite (Sykes-Picot) Agreement, British and Anglo-French Statements to the Arabs, British Treaty with Ibn Sa’ud, Amir Faysal’s Memorandum, Tentative Recommendations for President Wilson, Zionist Organization’s Memorandum, Summary Record of a Secret Meeting of the Supreme Council at Paris, and maps showing the divisions of territory represented by the various agreements.  GROUP DISCUSSION PROJECT:   Print out and read the special assignment in Blackboard Assignments. Have each member of your group represent a different faction at the Paris Peace Conference (Arab nationalists, Zionists, British, or French).  Use the various agreements and treaties in your readings as evidence to defend your claims to territory. You must adhere to the positions taken by the actual negotiators, as presented in the evidence, but you may negotiate different settlements than they did. (For example, one semester there were some groups in which the French or the Zionists were not represented at all. How might the settlements have been different had the Arabs been given sovereignty over Syria or Palestine?) Your goal is to negotiate a written settlement that will satisfy all parties and avoid future disagreements. You will want to print copies of the maps and agreements from Blackboard so that you can refer to your evidence in class.

W 2/15 The Wahhabi Revival, Oil, and the Creation of Saudi Arabia. K: 136-145 (Treaty of Sevres), 267-271 (Saudi Constitution); B: review British Treaty with Ibn Sa'ud); S: 123-132. Discussion questions: What was Silvestre de Sacy’s contribution to Orientalism? Be prepared to comment, after hearing the lecture, on the influences of Wahhabism on the Saudi constitution.

F 2/17 Authoritarianism and Secularism in Turkey: the rise of Mustafa Kemal "Ataturk." K: 145-152 (Ataturk); S: 132-148. Discussion questions: What was Ernst Renan’s contribution to Orientalism?

M 2/20 Authoritarianism and Secularism in Iran: the rise of Reza Shah Pahlavi. S: 149-166. Discussion questions: What was Edward Lane’s contribution to Orientalism?

W 2/22 GROUP DISCUSSION PROJECT: Egypt's Responses to Imperialism. K: 152-161 (‘Abd al-Raziq), 166-170 (Taha Husayn), 175-181 (Hasan al-Banna). Prepare discussion question ahead of time: Compare the ideas of ‘Ali ‘Abd al-Raziq, Taha Husayn and Hasan al-Banna.  Considering the political context of inter-war Egypt, which thinker had the better plan to unify the Egyptian nation? List pros and cons of both plans and prepare to justify your decision.  

F 2/24 The Mandatory System: the French interpretation (in Syria and Lebanon). K: 162-166 (Antun Sa‘adah), 231-232 (Alexandretta); S: 166-176. Discussion questions: What evidence did Sa ‘adah offer for the argument that the Syrians were a single nation? What can we tell about national identities in Alexandretta from Arab/Turk relations there? EXAM STUDY GUIDE AVAILABLE ON BLACKBOARD.

M 2/27 The British Mandate in Iraq. S: 176-186.

W 3/1 The British Mandate in Transjordan and the establishment of the Hashemite monarchy. S: 186-197. Discussion question: How did professional "travelers’" descriptions of the Middle East contribute to Orientalism?


M 3/6-F 3/10 Spring break

UNIT THREE: Historical Background of Contemporary Issues M 3/13 Humanizing the Early History of the Israel-Palestine Conflict. K: 114-121 (Pinsker), 121-128 (Ha-Am); S: 200-209. Discussion question: What are "latent" and "manifest" Orientalisms?

W 3/15  The British Mandate in Palestine. B: al-Qassam: Palestinian preacher and mujahid; S: 209-225. Discussion questions: What was it about al-Qassam that inspired deep feeling on the part of the Arabs in Palestine? What was jihad to al-Qassam? Was al-Qassam a terrorist?

F 3/17 The British Mandate in Palestine to 1948. K: 233-243 (Arab Case), 243-246 (Truman); B: UN Resolution 181; S: 226-236.

M 3/20 FILM: "Al-Nakba." Participants' accounts of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and the creation of the Palestinian refugee community. B: Constantine Zurayq's "Call for a New Order," from The Meaning of the Disaster; S: 236-246. Annotated bibliography due. See Blackboard Assignments for instructions.

W 3/22 Effects of the 1948 war on Egypt: The Egyptian Revolution, Nasser's Arab Socialism, and "Corporate" Democracy. B: Nasser's Philosophy of the Revolution ; S: 246-254.

F 3/24 Egypt and Israel: the 1956 Suez Crisis, the 1967 "Six Day" war, and the end of Nasserism. K: 278-282 (Nasser Resigns); S: 255-265.

M 3/27 The PLO, Sadat, and the 1973 war. S: 265-284. Discussion question: According to Said, what was the real purpose, the underlying unconscious motive, of Orientalism?

W 3/29 The PLO and sectarian politics in Lebanon. K: 289-298 (Lebanese Civil War); B: Sumaya - a Lebanese housemaid lives in Beirut through civil war; S: 284-294. Discussion question: What does Sumaya’s experience suggest about the involvement of ordinary people in the wars between Lebanese militias?

F 3/31 Peace Process, Intifada, and Contemporary Israel. S: 294-314. Research paper outline due. See Blackboard Assignments for instructions. Recommended extra credit film: Promises.

M 4/3  GROUP DISCUSSION PROJECT. K: 309-314 (Arab-Israelis), 397-402 (Arab and Israeli Soccer Players); B: "Politics of Memory," "The Art of Forgetting," "Americans Get Tax breaks," Benefits and Costs of U.S. Aid to Israel, "Such Good Friends," "Palestinians in State of Siege," Hamas Charter, map of security barrier and settlements. Web assignment: (1) Go to http://www.seedsofpeace.org and link to the "About us" page. (2) Go to http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/Terrorism/paltertoc.html and browse the documents on Palestinian terrorist groups. Discussion: You have been posted to serve as a UN Special Investigator in Israel/Palestine.  Based on evidence from the documents and/or Burke, devise a draft plan to prevent future conflicts between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs.  Take into consideration the potential problems with your plan and try to incorporate means to resolve those problems. (And keep in mind: just because we think a problem is impossible to solve does not mean we shouldn’t try to solve it.) You will want to print out a copy of the large map.

W 4/5 Islam and secularism in Turkey. K: 271-275 (Ensaroglu), 391-394 (Kurdish Activist’s Letter); B: Necmettin Erbakan's "Science, Nationality, and Westernism: Women in Islam," "Turkish Dilemma: Islam and the Army," and "Throw the Rascals Out."

F 4/7 Resisting economic dependency in Iran: Dr. Musaddiq and the CIA. K: 250-252 (Restricting Authority); S: 314-328. Discussion question: Considering the basic conclusion of Said’s book, be prepared to comment, after hearing the lecture, on Dr. Musaddiq’s effort to resist western economic imperialism and the actions of the CIA.

M 4/10 Cultural authenticity and the Islamic Revolution in Iran. K: 252-263 (Asadollah Alam), 286-289 (Khomeini), 298-301 (American Consular Documents), 331-340 (Shariati), 340-345 (Bazargan).

W 4/12 The Ba‘ath Party in Syria.. K: 170-175 (Michel Aflaq), 302-306 (massacre in Hama).

F 4/14 GOOD FRIDAY – no class

M 4/17 The Ba’ath Party in Iraq and the rise of Saddam Hussein. K: 263-267 (Saddam Hussein).

W 4/19 The Gulf War.

F 4/21 FILM: "The Mother of All Battles." RESEARCH PAPERS DUE. See Blackboard Assignments for instructions on how to insert footnotes in MS Word. Consult your St. Martin’s Guide for correct Chicago Manual of Style citation formats. I will expect to see some evidence of your having read Orientalism in your final draft, either in your discussion of your sources, in your formulation of your theoretical perspective, or at least in your avoidance of an "Orientalist" perspective. Papers must be handed in during class, not shoved under my door or put in my mailbox, unless you have arranged for an excused absence. Papers not turned in during class will be considered late by one day. Grades for late papers will be reduced by one letter grade for each day they are late.

M  4/24 The Appeal of Islamic Militancy: Sayyid Qutb and the intellectual origins of al-Qa'ida. K: 276-278 (Crisis of the State), 282-286 (al-‘Azm), 320-323 (Islamic Political Movements since 1964), 323-331 (Sayyid Qutb), 352-359 (Farag Foda), 359-365 (Bin Laden) B: "The Philosopher of Islamic Terror," Edward Said's "The Phony Islamic Threat". Discussion questions: Be able to summarize Sayyid Qutb’s main criticisms of western civ and his solutions. What were Osama bin Laden's reasons for attacking the U.S.? Do you see any echo of Sayyid Qutb’s ideas in Bin Laden’s statements? According to Said, how does the media mischaracterize the "Islamic threat"? Is he right?

W 4/26 The war against terror and the Iraq war. K: 416-421 (Khoury). Discussion questions: What will the effect of U.S. efforts in Iraq be on our "war against terror"? Recommended extra credit film: Control Room.

F 4/28 GROUP DISCUSSION PROJECT: K: 366-372 (Sept. 11), 410-416 (Globalization), 372-374 (subaltern groups); B: "The Fundamentalism Project," "Resisting the Horror," "Defending Human Rights," "The Changing Face of Islamic Movements," "It’s Democracy, Like It or Not," "They Say We’re Getting a Democracy," "Reintegration of Militants, "Reuters-Egypt-Militants." Based on the evidence presented in the reading, draw up a brief proposal to help the U.S. government address the root causes of terrorism in the Middle East. http://www.ibnkhaldun.org/religion/reintegration/ As preparation, make sure you recognize the differences between benevolent and violent Islamist groups. 

Final Exam Wednesday, May 3, 1-3 PM

CLASS POLICIES: It is absolutely essential to success in this class that you attend regularly, take good notes, and keep up with the discussion questions. To aid you in that effort:

I do not take formal attendance, but I do note when students are absent repeatedly. If I notice that you have had more than four absences, you will receive a zero for your participation grade. I do not require doctor’s excuses or notes from coaches unless you anticipate missing more than four classes or know that you will be absent for an exam. If an assignment is due on a day when you are absent, please use the digital drop box in Blackboard to turn it in (I accept MSWord and Corel WordPerfect formats, but NOT Microsoft Works). Digital submissions must be sent before the class starts to receive full credit.

Missed assignments and quizzes will receive a grade of zero. Note that a zero is worse, mathematically-speaking, than an F (anything below sixty percent). Late assignments will be penalized by one grade level per day (i.e., an A paper turned in two days late will receive a C). Assignments that are turned in after the class period they were due will be considered a day late. Missed quizzes may not be taken late, but you can make up for them by doing extra credit.

Any student with a documented disability (e.g., mobility, learning, psychological, vision, hearing, etc.) who needs to arrange accommodations must contact both me and Disability Services (826-2188) at the beginning of the term.

I will not tolerate plagiarism or cheating. Violations of the "Policy on Academic Honesty" detailed in the Baldwin-Wallace College Catalog will result in a failing grade and will be reported to college authorities for investigation and disciplinary action.

I strongly encourage you to make use of my e-mail and office hours. This is the best way to ensure that I get to know you as a person, so that I am aware of your individual strengths and any difficulties you may experience. If you need to meet with me outside of regular office hours, either drop by my office or contact me to schedule an appointment.



1. Ethical Considerations: The Department of History believes that all history should be taught within an ethical framework. The Department of History therefore seeks to challenge students as to the ethical consideration of historical events and movements. The courses in the Department include questions of ethical and moral concerns in the areas of political thought and practice, international relations and conflicts, economic justice, social interaction, scientific discoveries, and religious standards.

2. Writing: The Department of History believes that sound, effective and accurate writing skills should be the goal of all Baldwin-Wallace students. The Department of History therefore will include in all courses essay-type examinations and/or term papers, book reports, or other written, graded assignments.


Throughout class lecture and discussions, we will be considering some of the same "enduring questions" about leadership and political philosophy that you considered in LDR 202 Introduction to Leadership Studies. We will of course be discussing these ideas in the Middle Eastern context.

I encourage students who have Leadership minors to ask bring up issues relating to leadership studies during discussion. Several of the discussion questions relate to issues of leadership and/or the role of the subject/citizen in society. You may want to reflect in your oral responses on the relationship between the material in this class and that from your leadership classes or other electives. For example, one group discussion asks you to ‘solve’ the Arab-Israeli conflict: so for example, you might suggest ways in which a model of citizen leadership could be used to encourage cultural cooperation between Arabs and Israelis. The last discussion assignment asks you to advise the US government as to how to address the root causes of Islamic terrorism, and since militant groups use a form of citizen leadership to provide social services to the poor, you will have both an example of how citizen leadership and civil society can be manipulated and the opportunity to explore an alternative perspective on militant groups.

I suggest that you explore an issue related to leadership in your research paper.