Middle East in the Twentieth Century

Middle East in the Twentieth Century

Spring 2023
©️ Omnia El Shakry


This course explores the history of the Middle East from the turn of the twentieth century to the present. Rather than narrate the history of the twentieth century Middle East as a series of wars and conflicts, however, we will focus on the principal intellectual, cultural, political, and social factors that have shaped the countries of the Middle East. Themes include: legacies of colonialism; the late nineteenth century cultural renaissance known as the nahda; cultural modernism; anticolonial nationalism; postcolonial revolutionary movements; Islamic revival; gender; politics of oil and war; torture and state power; and the Arab uprisings.

Our focus in the 20th century will be largely on the emergence of anti-colonial nationalist revolutions and post-colonial national regimes. Rather than a comprehensive survey of the history of the Middle East, the course will highlight certain countries with the purpose of critically addressing the themes that are dominant in both the scholarly and non-scholarly literature on the region.

Required Texts

William Cleveland and Martin Bunton, A History of the Modern Middle East, Sixth Edition (Westview Press, 2016). Older editions also acceptable. 

Sonallah Ibrahim, The Committee, trans. Mary St. Germain and Charlene Constable (Syracuse, NY: 2001).

Required Films & Videos:

Snoop Dog Says Read the Syllabus, Snoop Dog (2020, 25 seconds)

Edward Said, On Orientalism, dir. Sut Jhally (1998, 41 minutes)

Mustapha Kemal ATATURK:  The Birth of a Republic,dir. Severine Labat (2008, 53 minutes)

A Space Exodus, dir. Larissa Sansour (2008, 6 minutes)

Nation Estate, dir. Larissa Sansour (2012, 10 minutes)

In The Future They Ate From the Finest Porcelain, dir. Larissa Sansour (2015, 29 minutes)

Umm Kulthum: A Voice like Egypt, dir. Michal Goldman (1996, 67 minutes)

Battle of Algiers, dir. Gillo Pontecorvo (1966, 122 minutes)

Four Women of Egypt, dir. Tahani Rached (2006, 90 minutes)

Collateral Murder, Wikileaks, Iraq (2007, 18 minutes)

Hostage: The Bachar Tapes, dir. Walid Raad & the Atlas Group (2001, 17 minutes)

The Square, dir. Jehane Noujaim (2013, 105 minutes)