History 850

San Francisco State University

 History 850:  Modernity and the Islamic World

Instructor: Maziar Behrooz

E-mail: mroozbeh@sfsu.edu
Home Page: http://faculty.sfsu.edu/~mroozbeh

Telephone: 415/3381776

Course Abstract: This research graduate seminar examines the relationship between The United States, Europe, and the Middle East in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  Students will be required to develop a topic of interest which will cover a given interaction by any actor in the West or the Middle East and reaction and consequences it caused.  Topics such as diplomacy, cultural interaction, travelogues and individual impressions, politics of imperialism, nationalism, Islamic revivalism, etc. are possible areas of interest.  The goal is to find a thesis for a graduate level research paper which is both focused and manageable


Spring 2018: Wednesday Th. 16:10-18:55 Science 268

Office Hours: Science 223 MW, 10-11 or by appointment




The first half of the course will be devoted to group discussion of selected reading assignments.  Participants will be assigned books for in class presentation, discussion, and writing of book reviews. 


Participants will be required to give book presentations, do the readings, participate in class discussions, write book reviews, and give presentations on their final paper before submitting it.


Research Paper: Your task is to develop a thesis, conduct research, and write a research paper, mine is to oversee this process, guide its development, and judge its outcome.  Your project thesis should be an original one.  It may also be a different approach to an already well researched subject. 


This course will take the Early Topic Selection approach which means you are encouraged to select a paper topic as early as possible and begin your research.


You should be prepared to argue the originality of your topic both orally and in your paper introduction.  Your paper should also include an evaluation of the state of the field under study, the significance of your topic, and why your work differs from other researches done in this area.  Your work should be based on primary and secondary sources.  This should include primary non-English sources depending on your language proficiency (to be determined in class).       


You are expected to turn in a rough draft copy of your work.  This will be read by all class members and commented on.  Students who develop a topic early on and choose to present early will not be expected to turn in a complete draft.  The later your presentation the more complete your draft should look.


Each student is required to read the work of others and comment on them.  Comments on presentations and rough drafts should be constructive.  Remember, everyone will go through the same process.  If you know of sources unknown to the author, you can provide her\him with it.  If you see a contradiction in his\her argument, you should bring it up academically and constructively.


Final papers should be between 30-35 pages long, typed double space.  Endnotes and bibliographies should follow the Chicago Manual of Styles. 



No two books are alike so guidelines for book reviews must be general. There is, however, one basic rule. In order to write a good review you must think carefully about the book and about your review. Reviews should be 1,000 words maximum, so you must take pains to organize and present your thoughts with maximum precision, clarity and conciseness. Do not submit a review that exceeds the maximum word limit by more than five percent.  Begin your review with the author, title, and facts of publication, using a standard bibliographic form.


Write on the author’s purpose for writing the book, his thesis, how the book is organized, what type of sources are used to develop his theses, how well the author accomplishes his task and how the book relates to the main theme of our class.


Grade breakdown:


Final paper: 40%

Class participation: 20%

Book reviews: 20%

Paper presentation 20%


Course Outline:


Note: The following is a rough outline and it is subject to change.


Week 1: January 24

Course introduction & watching a lecture on Islamophobia in the West followed by class discussion.


Read: Anderson, Imagined Communities


Week 2:  January 31


Discussion of Anderson, Imagined Communities. (No book review required)


Week 3: February 7

No Class: Preliminary discussion of possible research topic in individual meeting with instructor.  


Week 4: February 14

-Discussion of Salt, the Unmaking of the Middle East.

-Discussion of N. Ferguson, “Colossus.”

-Salt book review is due.


Week 5: February 21

-Discussion of Galvin, the Middle East.

-One page paper topics proposals is due.

-Galvin book review is due.

-Scheduling for second one-on-one meeting and discussion of paper topics with instructor. 


Week 6: February 28

No Class: Individual meeting with instructor.


Week 7: March 7

-Discussion of Becevich, America’s War for the Greater Middle East.

-Discussion of E. Wallerstein, “Curve.”

-Becevich book review is due.

Week 8: March14

No Class: Third individual meeting with instructor.


Week 9: March 21 (No Class—Spring Recess)


Week 10: March 28

-Discussion of the Middle East and the United States.

-Discussion of Saladden, “Russian Strategy in the Middle East.”

-Discussion of Mearsheimer, “Israel Lobby.”

-Book review for the Middle East and the United States is due.

-Rough drafts for the first group of presentations should have been e-mailed to the instructor.


Week 11:  April 4

-First group of paper presentations.

-Rough drafts for the second group of presentations should have been e-mailed to the instructor.


Week 12:  April 11

-Second group of paper presentations.

-Rough drafts for the third group of paper presentations should have been e-mailed to the instructor.


Week 13: April18

-Third group of Paper presentations.

-Rough drafts for the fourth group of paper presentations should have been e-mailed to the instructor.


Week 14: April 25

-Fourth group of paper presentations.

-Rough drafts for the fifth group of presentations should have been e-mailed to the instructor.


Week 15: May 2

Fifteh group of paper presentations.


Week 16: May 9







Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities

Andrew Bacevich, America's War for the Greater Middle East.
James Galvin, the Middle East

David Lesch and Mark Hass, ed. the Middle West and the United States,

Jeremy Salt, the Unmaking of the Middle East

Articles: (will be e-mailed to you)


N Ferguson, “Colossus”

Mearsheimer-Walt, “Israel Lobby”

J. Sladden, “Russian Strategy in the Middle East”

E. Wallerstein, “Curve”