Civilization of the
Office Hours: Wednesday 3:30-5:30 pm and by appointment (I will usually be available after this class, except on the one Friday a month when we have faculty meetings immediately following!)
Office: SierraTower 621
Mailbox: History Department Office, SierraTower 610
class is meant to serve as an introduction to the history of the Middle East
from 600 to the present, as well as to the way in which historians think and
work. We will deal with the formation of different major aspects of Islamic
civilization and religion and their interactions with other civilizations and
religions. Students will come away with an understanding of the political,
religious and cultural issues surrounding the rise of and development of Islam,
its interaction with cultures already existing in the
This course will help students to develop towards the following six Student Learning Outcomes out of the eight in History:
1) To analyze and explain problems of historical interpretation
3) To learn to read and interpret historical sources critically and analytically
4) To express orally and exchange historical ideas
6) To write a research essay using a scholarly format that includes footnotes and bibliography;
7) To demonstrate a complex understanding of the history of the United States, Europe, and one other region or culture over a period of time;
8) To understand historical subjects that transcend regional boundaries.
Workload: I have based my reading, paper, and exam assignments on the expectation that you will do 2 hours of work outside of class for every hour in class. Thus, you should expect to devote 6 hours of time to this class per week in addition to the three hours you are in class. I have assumed that you will read and take notes on that reading at the rate of 20 pages per hour. I have assumed that you will take 3 hours to write a 2-3 page essay, and that you will study 6 hours for the midterm and final exam. These are fairly average rates for most students. If you personally take more or less time to do these things, the workload will be more or less.
You may find that some weeks there is less work assigned than in others. In this case, you should plan to move on to the next week’s work. Either way, you should plan on doing six hours worth of work each week.
Vernon O. Egger. A History of the Muslim World to 1405: The
Making of a Civilization.
William H. McNeill and Marilyn Robinson Waldman. The Islamic World.
James A. Gelvin. The Modern
Riverbend. Baghdad Burning. New York: The Feminist Press at CUNY, 2005. This book contains the first year (2003-2004) of a blog http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com, with introductions to each period of the blog and historical background. You may read it on the blog website if you prefer, but make sure that you start with August 17, 2003 and end with Wednesday September 15, 2004. If you read the book online, you might want to take the time to read the introductions and the background in the reserve room at the library.
Taking Notes: You should take notes on what you read and on the in-class lectures and discussions. There are many effective ways to take reading notes, but I do not recommend highlighting. My favorite is to write a one paragraph summary of each section that I read. Another technique is to use the study questions on the website as the basis for your notes. Answer each question as completely as possible using specific examples. Whichever format you use, you should also write down important ideas and terms as you come across them. Also write down any questions that you have as you read and bring these into the class discussion.
You should take notes on what you learn in class also, since it will appear on the exams. It is not advisable to write down every word that is said. Instead, take down main ideas and concepts. If I show an image in class it is likely important, so you should write down a description. If I use a powerpoint, you will need to focus on what I say rather than what is on the screen. I use the powerpoint for terms and dates, rather than for key concepts. It is also advisable to take notes on discussions, since these will play an important role in class. In general, it is far easier to study if you have good class notes.
Class attendance: Class will consist of a mix of lectures and discussion. I expect you to come to every class meeting prepared and to have something to say in discussion. I will not take roll after the first few weeks- you are on the honor system- but those who do not regularly attend class are likely to miss quizzes, as well as not receiving important information. (Not to mention that those who attend class almost invariably get better grades!)
GRADING: Your grade will be based on the following schema and will be given according to the +/- system (ie. A, A-, B+, B, etc):
Discussion Lead: 10%
Midterm Exam: 19%
Final Exam: 24%
Test Booklets: 2%
Discussion Lead: Four or five people in each discussion session will lead the discussion. These people will work together to engage the class in discussion. The presenters will engage the class in discussion rather than simply presenting their conclusions. This is a hard task, so if you make an honest attempt then you will be given full credit; there is no grade given.
The people who are presenting will meet with me after the class before their session.
Each person must do this at least once throughout the semester. The sign up sheet will be passed around in the first week, and then it will be posted on the class website. You are expected to give your presentation the day you sign up. If you miss it, you will receive no credit for this assignment!
Quizzes: There will be at least ten quizzes throughout the semester. They will be unannounced and given only on days when we have readings. They will cover the reading material due on that day. They will be short essays and based on the study questions for that day. I will drop the two lowest scores. You may use notes on these quizzes, but not books. There is no way to make up quizzes after the fact, so be sure to come to class!
Papers: Paper assignments will focus on the primary source readings and will be 2-3 pages. I will post them on the class website at least two weeks in advance. There will be an opportunity to write a paper most weeks. You will be expected to turn in at least three of these. Each paper must be turned in at the given deadline. At least one must be done before Friday September 30th . At least two papers must be done before Friday October 28th , and all three must be done by Friday, December 9th. However, you are encouraged to finish all three as soon as you can. I STRONGLY advise that you write the first three papers! This will give you less work at the end of the semester. If you do not turn enough papers in by the deadlines, your total paper grade will be docked a full grade.
You may write as many of these papers as you like- I will take the three highest grades. You may also rewrite each paper that you turn in once. If you choose to rewrite, the rewrite is due the week after you get your paper back.
No Email Submissions Will Be Accepted!
No Late Papers Will Be Accepted Without Prior Arrangement with Me! (If you miss a paper, I will simply tell you to write the next one!)
Please come ask me for help with these papers! I have office hours for just such things. I am also happy to read rough drafts that are sent to me by email three days before the deadline. I can help with grammar, style, and spelling, as well as the concept and organization of the paper. DO NOT BE EMBARRASSED TO ASK FOR HELP! How else will you learn?
Exams: Both the midterm and the final will be primarily essay, but they will have a map component and a dates component. I will hand out study sheets in advance. The midterm is Wednesday, October 21st, and the final is Friday, December 16th from 8-10am .
Test booklets: If you turn in two unmarked test booklets to me by Friday, October 14th, you will receive the 2% credit.
In grading both exams and papers, it is my feeling that a grade of a D means that you have done the minimum. C means that you have done the assignment averagely well. A grade of B means that you have done a better-than-average job, and an A represents really excellent work.
This means that in order to get a C on a paper you should have answered the question asked in a well-written essay with a thesis statement, introduction and conclusion. The papers should be based on primary sources and have some examples from the relevant pieces.
An exam essay should also be well organized and have a thesis statement. The exam essay should provide evidence in the form of specific examples. All examples should be detailed and their importance to your main thesis should be explained.
If any of these elements are missing you will get less than a C.
CHEATING AND PLAGIARISM ARE IN NO WAY ACCEPTABLE! If you have any questions at all on this score, please ask me- I will happily help you. Alternately, you can look at the University policy on this at http://www.csun.edu/studentaffairs/studentconduct/academic_dishonesty.pdf
CELLPHONES, BLACKBERRIES, PAGERS, LAPTOPS AND OTHER ELECTRONIC DOODADS: All of these should be turned off and stowed away during class. They are distractions to you, to me, and to your colleagues. If for some reason you absolutely have to have a laptop for taking notes, let me know and I will accommodate you. A PERSON WHO HAS AN ELECTRONIC DEVICE VISIBLE DURING AN EXAM WILL RECEIVE AN AUTOMATIC F AND BE REPORTED TO THE UNIVERSITY FOR CHEATING!
ELECTRONIC RESOURCES FOR THE COURSE: Study guides, paper topics, readings, and the syllabus can be found on Moodle. I will also post the syllabus on my website at www.csun.edu/~rthowes.edu. There will also be some readings on other websites that you can link to through the course website.
A LAST WORD: I am here to help you learn, and you should make use of me. Come to my office hours, stop by and ask a question if you see my door open. Ask copious questions in class. If you have a crisis, let me know. I can usually help you deal with your class work, but I cannot help if I do not know. I much prefer to see students in my office in September, October or November than to fail them in December! There may be stupid questions, but there are very few, and it is much better to ask them and be embarrassed than to go on being ignorant of the answer!
I Look Forward to a Great Semester!
Schedule of Classes,
Week 1 -Introduction
Friday September 2–Lecture: Introduction to the Study of the Middle East
Week 2- The Transition from Late Antiquity to Islam
Friday September 9th
Discussion: The Context of Islam
Readings: The Syllabus
Egger, xi-xvi, 1-32
The Islamic World, 3-67
The Sack of Jerusalem http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/strategos1.html
Justinian. On the Regulation of Church Ritual http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/justinian-nov137.html
“The Records of Artakhshir,” in
Charles F. Horne, Sacred Books and Early
Literature of the East: Ancient
Lecture: The Early Islamic Conquests and the Development of the Caliphates
Readings: Egger, 33-84
Week 3: The Early Islamic Community
Friday September 16:
Discussion: Issues Concerning the Conquest and the Early Community
Readings: The Islamic World, 67-81
Arab Accounts of the Conquest of Egypt http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/642Egypt-conq2.html
The Pact of Umar http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/pact-umar.html
Lecture: The Abbasid Caliphate and Society
Readings: Egger, 85-138
Paper #1 Due
Week 4-The Formation of an Islamic Society
Friday September 23rd -
Discussion: Abbasid Politics and Literature
Readings: The Islamic World, 85-134, 142-150, 171-180
Lecture: Political Turmoil and the Flourishing of an Islamic Society
Readings: Egger, 139-171
Paper #2 Due
Week 5-The Formation of an Islamic Society, Part II
Friday September 30th –
Discussion: Islamic Philosophy, Theology, and Law
Readings: The Islamic World, 134-142, 151-171, 206-247
Qadi al-Nu’man, The Pillars of Islam, “The Book of Faith” (On Moodle)
Al-Mawardi. Selections from The Ordinances of government (On Moodle)
Lecture: The Rise of New Political Formations
Readings: Egger, 172-256
Paper #3 Due: At Least One Paper Should be Done by this Point
Week 6- Crises in the Middle East
Friday October 7th – The Impact of Invaders
Discussion: Crusaders and Mongols
Readings: The Islamic World, 183-206, 248-272
Lecture: Il-Khans, Mamluks and Early Ottomans
Readings: Egger, 290-317
Paper #4 Due
Week 7- The Post Mongol World
Friday October 14th- Discussion: Ibn Batutta
Readings: The Islamic World, 273-308
Paper #5 Due
Week 8- Midterm
Friday October 21st
Week 9- Gunpowder Empires
Friday October 28th
Lecture: Two Early Modern Empire: Survival of the Most Adaptable?
Readings: Gelvin, 9-57
(2008 edition of Gelvin, 9-59)
Paper #6 Due: At Least Two Papers Must be Done by this Point!
Week 10- The Encounter with Europe
Friday November 4th –
Discussion: Ottomans and Safavids
Readings: Gelvin, 58-66
(2008 edition of Gelvin, 60-67: There are two extra documents in the new edition)
The Islamic World, 311-352, 373-391
Lecture: The Formation of the Present Middle East
Readings: Gelvin, 69-109, 133-157, 180-226
(2008 edition of Gelvin, 69-110, 123-146, 171-215)
Week 11- Friday November 11th- Veteran’s Day- No Class
Week 12- Trends in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
Friday November 18th –
Discussion: Defensive Development, Imperialism, and Influence
Readings: Gelvin, 110-132, 158-177, 227-231
(2008 edition of Gelvin, 111-122, 147-169, 215-221 There are 10 extra pages of documents in the new edition.)
The Islamic World, 407-431, 431-449, 461-468
Lecture: Egypt, Israel/ Palestine, and Iran: The path of three Countries in the Twentieth Century
Readings: Gelvin, 233-282
(2008 Edition of Gelvin, 223-270)
Paper #7 Due
Week 13-Friday November 25th- Thanksgiving- No Class
Week 14- Case Studies in Modernity
Friday December 2nd –
Discussion: The State, Islamism, and Revolution
Readings: Gelvin, 283-336
(2008 edition of Gelvin, 271-324)
Lecture: Iraq from 1920-2011
Readings: Baghdad Burning, 1-152
Paper #8 Due
Week 15- Wither Now?
Friday December 9th – Discussion: Modern Iraq
Discussion: Baghdad Burning
Readings: Baghdad Burning, 153-304
Lecture: The “Arab Spring” and its meaning
Paper #9 Due: At Least Three Papers are Due by this Point
Final Review Session TBA
Final Friday December 16 8am-10am, in this room.