History 425

History of the Early Modern Middle East

Fall 2011

Dr. Howes


Class Time: Monday and Wednesday 11am-12:15pm

Classroom: Sierra Hall 186

Professor: Rachel T. Howes

Office: Sierra Tower 621

Office Phone: 818-677-2755

Email: rachel.howes@csun.edu

Mailbox: Sierra Tower 610

History Department Phone: 818-677-3566

Office Hours: Wednesday 3:30-5:30 pm and by appointment

Webpage: www.csun.edu/~rthowes


Introduction and Expectations

Introduction: This course will trace the history of the Middle East from the Mongol destruction of Baghdad in 1258 to the Napoleonic invasion of Egypt in 1798.  Through a combination of secondary and primary sources, we look at the aftermath of the Mongol invasions and trace the rise and development of the Gunpowder Empires including in particular the Mamluks, Ottomans, il-Khans and Safavids.  The focus will be on the interaction of these empires with each other and with non-Middle Eastern states.  We will focus on political history, but there will be discussions of economic, social, cultural and religious history as well.


This class fill help students towards mastery of the following Student Learning Objectives in History:

1)      To analyze and explain problems of historical interpretation;

2)      To comprehend, articulate, and apply the various approaches to historical analysis;

3)      To learn to read and interpret historical sources critically and analytically;

4)      To express orally and exchange historical ideas;

5)      To select a research problem and search for relevant primary and secondary sources;

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 expect students to spend 2-3 hours working on this class outside of class per class period.  Thus you should expect to devote 6-9 hours per week to this class outside of the classroom.  I have assigned readings and papers that should allow you to do this.  I assume that you will read and take notes at roughly 25 pages per hour, and that you will spend 3 hours writing a 2-3 page paper.  I also expect that writing the midterm paper will take you roughly 9 hours.  The final project will require 3 hours every week for the last 4 weeks.  If you personally read or write more slowly or more quickly, then you can expect to take more or less time- these are estimates based on an average student. 


You will find that some weeks you have less work to do than the suggested time.  If this happens, you should move on to the next weeks’ work.



Your grade will be based on the following criteria and will be given according to the +/- system (ie. A, A-, B+, B, etc):


Class Participation: 15%

Discussion Lead: 10%

Short Papers: 30%

Midterm Paper: 20%

Final Paper: 25%


Participation:  I do not lecture at the 400-level.  Thus the success of this class will depend on the engagement of the class.  You will be expected to come to class every time and contribute to the class discussion, to do this you will need to have done the reading.  In order to facilitate discussion, I have posted discussion questions for each week. I will not take role, but in order to get a good participation grade, you will need to come to class. 


Discussion Lead: Each class session, two or three students will be in charge of leading the discussion of the readings for that day.  Each student must do this at least twice during the semester: once before the midterm and once after.  The bulk of this should be leading the class through a discussion of the major points dealt with in the readings.  The study guides can serve as a guide, but student discussants may find that the readings bring up issues not covered in these questions.  This should NOT be a recitation of the student’s own answers to the questions!  He or she should elicit responses from his or her fellow students.

A sign up sheet will be circulated the second day of class, so that students will know when they are responsible for leading the discussion.  The people who are presenting will meet with me two days (or more) before their session.  (So, if you are moderating Monday’s session you will meet with me by the previous Wednesday.)  I expect students to have done some preparation for their preparation prior to our meeting, so that I can answer any questions they might have.  Please choose your subject carefully, since you will be expected to write a midterm paper on a related subject.


Short Papers: There will be five (5) short papers due.  Each week (with a few exceptions) there will be a question concerning the reading for that week.  You will be expected to write a well-written, two-page essay based on the reading for that week.  At least three papers must be done by October 31st.  You may write extra papers to improve your grade (for instance a B will replace a C, if you write six papers rather than five).  You may also rewrite papers.  If you choose to rewrite, the rewrite is due one week after you get your paper back.  I STRONGLY urge you to write the first five papers!  The end of the semester gets hectic, and if you are done with your short papers, you will be less stressed.


Midterm Paper:  You will be expected to write a 5-7 page typed double-spaced paper on the readings for the week or two on which  you did your presentation.  The idea will be to expand on what you did for your presentation.  More detailed instructions will be given out in the next few weeks.  The paper will be due October 17th .


Final Project:  This will be a 10-12 paper written on a topic of your choice.  This is not intended as a research paper, but rather as an exercise in historical thinking.  You will be asked to select a topic based on the class readings.  You will then be asked to select, with your professor’s help, two additional readings related to the topic you choose.  More details will follow after the midterm.  Your grade for the final paper will be based on the following format: 


Topic and preliminary bibliography:               10%     Due: November 2nd   

Rough Draft:                                                   30%     Due: November 30th

Final Draft:                                                     60%     Due: December 16th


The topic and rough draft will not be given a letter grade (in other words, if you turn something in that meets the requirements you get credit).  The final draft will be graded, and all four parts must be turned in to receive full credit for the paper.


Late papers will only be accepted with prior arrangement or in emergency!

No email submissions will be accepted! (All papers will be due in class.)


My Standards: I feel that an assignment that meets the minimum requirements is worth a C.  Work that is very good should get a B, and outstanding work is worth an A. 


Cheating and Plagiarism are in no way acceptable!  If you have any question at all about this, please ask.  You can also check the University policy on this subject.


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.


Reading: Reading is due the day it is listed.  We will usually be focusing class discussion on the reading, so it is terribly important that you do it.  I also highly recommend that students take notes on reading.  There are many techniques for this.  My favorite is to finish a chapter and then write a short summary of what I read.  I do not recommend highlighting as this tends to lead students to underline too much detail, and you cannot use highlighted books on the quizzes.


Texts:  These texts are available at the Matador bookstore and on reserve at the library.  Most of them are available through other sources as well such as amazon.com, etc. 


Books to Purchase:

Ibn Khaldun.  The Muqqadimah: An Introduction to History.  Princeton, NJ.: Princeton University Press, 1967.  0691017549


Evliya Celebi.  The Intimate Life of an Ottoman Statesman.  New York: SUNY Press, 1991.  0791406415


De Busbecq, Ogier Ghislain.  The Turkish Letters of Ogier Ghislein de Busbecq.  Louisiana State University Press, 2005.  0807130710


Suraiya Faroqhi. Subjects of the Sultan: Culture and Daily Life in the Ottoman Empire.  New York: I. B. Tauris, 2005.  1850437602


Jean Chardin.  Travels in Persia, 1673-1677. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1988 ISBN: 0486256367   


Douglas E. Struesand.  Islamic Gunpowder Empires: Ottomans, Safavids, and Mongols.  (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2011).  ISBN: 813313597.


E-Books on the library Website: These books can be accessed through Oviatt Library Catalogue by CSUN students.


Hess, Andrew.  The Forgotten Frontier:A History of the Sixteenth Century Ibero-African Frontier. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978.


Lapidus, Ira.  Muslim Cities in the Later Middle Ages.  Boston: Harvard University Press, 1967


This book is on a separate website:


Saadi. Richard Burton, Trans. Golestan http://www.iranchamber.com/literature/saadi/books/golestan_saadi.pdf


There is also be a series of supplementary readings at posted on Moodle.


Getting in touch with me:   The email address listed at the top of the page is the easiest way to contact me.  I am usually pretty prompt to answer, but sometimes it may take me a day or two to respond, especially on weekends. 

            I will always be available at office hours and on most Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays when I do not have classes or meetings. You are encouraged to drop by!

You should especially feel free to ask paper related questions.  I can help with simple grammar, style, and spelling questions, as well as with the conception and construction of your papers.  I will be happy to read drafts of any paper that comes to me at least three days before the deadline.  Do not be embarrassed to ask for help-writing is hard!


Last Words: If you have problems in this class, do not wait to talk to me!  I can help, and I like to help-its part of my job!  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! 


Schedule of Readings and Classes


Week 1 -Introduction

Monday August 29th –Introduction

Film: Mongol


Wednesday August 31st-The Middle East Before the Mongols

Readings: R. Stephen Humphreys. “Islamic Art: Geography and Trade, Ethnography, History,” in Jane Turner, ed., 34 volumes. London: Macmillan, 1996. vol. 16, pp. 102-121. (On Moodle)

Film: Mongol



Week 2-The Mongols

Monday September 5th Labor Day- No Class


Wednesday September 7th-The Mongols in the Middle East

Readings: David Morgan.  Medieval Persia. London: Longman Group, 1988,  pp. 51-82. (On Moodle)



Week 3-The Mongols in Contemporary Eyes

Monday September 12th-Contemporary Views of the Mongols

Readings: Al-Juvaini. Trans. John Andrew Boyle. History of a World Conqueror, v. 2, pp.618-641. (On Moodle)


Nasir al-Din Tusi.  Trans. John Andrew Boyle.  “The death of the last Abbasid Caliph: A Contemporary Muslim Account,” JSS 6 (1961), 51-61; rpt in idem. A Mongol World Empire 1206-1370 London: 1976.  (On Moodle)


Wednesday September 14th – Literature in the Mongol Period

            Readings: Saadi, The Golestan, all http://www.iranchamber.com/literature/saadi/books/golestan_saadi.pdf



Week 4-Mamluks

Monday September 19th- Overview of Mamluk History

            Lapidus, Ira.  Muslim Cities in the Later Middle Ages.  Boston: Harvard University Press, 1967, 1-115. (On the Library website as an E-book).

Paper Topic #1 Due



Wednesday September 21st- Mamluks in the Mamluk Eye

Ibn Taghrabirdi, History of Egypt, part III, 15-17, 81-89, part IV: 28-30, 72-113, maps (On Moodle)



Week 5-Spain and North Africa Before the Ottoman Period

Monday September 26th North Africa

Abun Nasr, Jamil. A History of the Maghrib in the Islamic Period, 103-143. (On Moodle)


W. Mongomory Watt, A History of Islamic Spain, 147-175 (On Moodle)


Ibn Batuta, Travels in Asia and Africa, 301-339 (On Moodle)

Paper #2 Due


Wednesday September 28th The Nature of Human Civilization

Readings: Ibn Khaldun, The Muqqadimah, pp. vii-xiv, 3-122



Week 6- A North African View of History

Monday October 3rd – Urban and Rural Civilization in the Rise and Fall of Dynasties

Readings: Ibn Khaldun, The Muqqadimah, pp. 123-296


Wednesday October 5th – The Professions of Mankind

Readings: Ibn Khaldun, The Muqqadimah, pp.297-460


Week 7-The North African Frontier

Monday October 10th-The Clash of Empires

Readings: Hess, The Forgotten Frontier, 1-99

Paper #3 Due


Wednesday October 12th- Islam Expelled

Readings: Hess, The Forgotten Frontier, 100-211


Week 8-The Ottomans and the Midterm

Monday October 17th – Midterm


Wednesday October 19th – An Overview of Ottoman History

Readings: Streusand, Islamic Gunpowder Empires, 1-133



Week 9- An European View of the Ottoman Empire

Monday October 24th –de Busbecq’s Journey to Istanbul

Readings: Busbecq, The Turkish Letters, xvii-xxvi, 1-83

Paper #4 Due


Wednesday October 26th –de Busbcq’s View of Istanbul and the Ottoman Court

Readings: Busbecq, The Turkish Letters, 83-243


Week 10- An Ottoman View of Ottoman History

Monday October 31stMelek and Celebi in Istanbul and the Central Balkans

Readings:  Celebi, The Intimate Life of an Ottoman Statesman, 3-165

Paper #5 Due: At Least Three Papers Must be Done by this Point.


Wednesday November 2nd Melek and Celebi In Eastern Anatolia and Bosnia

Readings: Celebi, The Intimate Life of an Ottoman Statesman, 167-285

Paper Topic and Preliminary Bibliography Due



Week 11-The Ottomans in the Seventeenth Century

Monday November 7th –The Creation of an Ottoman Culture

Readings: Faroqhi, Subjects of the Sultan, 1-122

Paper #6 Due


Wednesday November 9th- Arts and Cultural Crises

Readings: Faroqhi, Subjects of the Sultan, 123-287



Week 12-From the Il-Khans to the Safavids

Monday November 14th – Iran in the 14th and 15th Centuries


Morgan, Medieval Persia, 83-111 (On Moodle)


Khunji abridged translation by V. Minorsky. Persia in A.D. 1478-1490: An Abridged Translation of Fadlallah b. Ruzbihan Khunji’s Tarikh-I `Alam-Ara-Yi Amini.  London: Luzac and Co., 1957, pp. 19-25, 61-86. (On Moodle)

Paper #7 Due


Wednesday November 16th- Overview of the Safavids

Readings: Streusand, Islamic Gunpowder Empires, 135-200



Week 13-Safavid view of themselves

Monday November 21st –Shah Abbas and his Court

Readings: Eskandar Beg Monshi, History of Shah Abbas the Great, Book I, 40-131


Wednesday November 23rd –A Scribe’s Discussion of the Offices and Payments in the Safavid Government

Readings: Eskandar Beg Monshi, History of Shah Abbas the Great, Book II, 546-604



Week 14-A European View of the Safavids

Monday November 28th –The Court and the Capitol

Readings: Chardin, Travels in Persia, v-xxviii, 1-123

Paper #8 Due


Wednesday November 30th –Religion, Culture and the Economy

Readings: Chardin, Travels in Persia, v-xxviii, 125-287

Rough Draft Due


Week 15-The Transition to Modernity

Monday December 5th  The End of the Safavids and the Rise of the Qajars

Readings: Morgan, Medieval Persia, 152-161


John Foran. “The long fall of the Safavid Dynasty: Moving Beyond the Standard Views,” International Journal of Middle East Studies, 24 (1992), 281-304. (JSTOR)


Minorsky, Tadhkirat al-Muluk, 41-109


Paper #9 Due


Wednesday December 7th Closing Thoughts and Discussion of the Final Paper


Final Paper Due December 16th by 12pm