93410 - History And Institutions Of The Modern Middle East (50)

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Peace, justice and strong institutions Partnerships for the goals

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students - are able to articulate informed and coherent arguments about the main aspects of Middle Eastern political , social and cultural development in Turkey, Iran and the Arab Middle East by referring to the relevant scholarly literature

Course contents

The course is organized in lectures and seminars, as detailed in the following program. Lectures (26 hours in blended on MS TEAMS) aim to introduce students to the core tenets of the discipline. Seminars aim to provide occasions for in-depth discussions of class materials and exercises. The division into lessons and seminars is specified in the program that follows. For the seminar section, students will be divided into 2 groups according to their preferences and according to rules concerning the current pandemic emergency: one group will do the seminar in presence (12 hours) and one group will do the seminar remotely on MS TEAMS (12 hours). Therefore, a total of 38 hours of instruction are scheduled for each student. The course format requires student to study indipendentely in order to acquire the course contents outlined during the lectures. Students are also expected to prepare in advance for the seminars, carefully reading the assigned materials so that they can contribute to class discussion and engage actively in presentations of existing scholarship and case studies. Regardless of the health-related conditions and the specific organization of the course, students will be able to follow the lessons of the entire course remotely on MS TEAMS should they wish to do so. Shifts from the preferred mode of attendance, in presence or on line, will be allowed only for certified health reasons.

Mon. 21 Feb. 2022 - Lecture 1- Introduction to the Study of the Modern and Contemporary Middle East.

Tue. 22 Feb. 2022- Lecture 2- Defensive Modernization (XIX century): Ottoman Empire, Qajar's Persia and Egypt Compared .

Core-readings: Cleveland, chs. 1-8

Mon. 28 Feb. 2022- Seminar 1 Group A- The quest for 'modernity' in the Middle East (end of XVIII-early XX century)

Tue. 01 Mar. 2022- Seminar 1 Group B - See above

Mon. 07 Mar. 2022- Lecture 3- WWI and the Making of the Modern Middle East.

Tue. 08 Mar. 2022- Lecture 4- The Mandates.

Core readings: Cleveland, chs. 9-12

Mon. 14 Mar. 2022- Seminar 2 Group A- Carving up the Modern Middle East: 'artificial states'?

Tue. 15 Mar. 2022- Seminar 2 Group B - see above

Week 21-25 Mar 2022- READING WEEK (no classes) Friday 25 Mar. 2022- 1st Assignment due

Mon. 28 Mar. 2002- Lecture 5 The Palestinian Question (1)

Tue. 29 Mar. 2022- Lecture 6 The Palestinian Question (2)

Core readings: Cleveland, chs. 13;17; 22 and 23

Mon. 4 Apr. 2022- Seminar 3 Group A- The Israeli New Historians

Tue. 5 Apr. 2022- Seminar 3 Group B- see above

Mon. 11 Apr.2022- Lecture 7- The Middle East in the Bipolar World: the Golden Age of Panarabism (1)

Tue. 12 Apr. 2022- Lecture 8- The Middle East in the Bipolar World: the Golden Age of Panarabism (2)

Core readings: Cleveland, chs. 14-16


Tue. 26 Apr. 2022- Seminar 4 Group B  Reconsidering Nasserism

Wed. 27 Apr. 2022- Seminar 4 Group A- see above

Fri. 29th Apr. 2022- Second Assignment due

Mon. 02 May 2022- Lecture 9- The Middle East from the Seventies to the End of the Cold War: Multiple trajectories (1).

Tue. 3 May 2022- Lecture 10- The Middle East from the Seventies to the End of the Cold War: Multiple trajectories (2).

Core readings: Cleveland, chs. 19-21

Mon. 9 May 2022- Seminar 5 Group A - Regional Patterns of War and Peace.

Tue. 10 May 2022- Seminar 5 Group B- see above

Mon. 16 May 2022- Lecture 11- The Islamist Revival (1)

Tue. 17 May 2022- Lecture 12- The Islamist Revival (2)

Core readings: Cleveland, ch. 18

Mon. 23 May 2022- Seminar 6 Group A, The Resurgence of Political Islam in the Seventies: comparative genealogies of radical Islamism until the Iranian Revolution (1979)

Tue. 25 May 2022- Seminar 6 Group B, see above

Mon. 30 May 2022- Lecture 13- Wrap-up




For a comprehensive chronological and thematic overview, students are required to study ( see 'core-readings' above)

William Cleveland and Martin Bunton, A History of the Modern Middle East, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2016, 6th edition


Karen Armstrong, Islam, a Short History, Phoenix, 2001

The use of the historical maps is highly recommended. A very good selection of maps can be found here:


Compulsory readings for each seminar with related debate topics and activities will be published on VIRTUALE as well as the ESSAY TITLES.

Instructions for non-attending students (i.e. exam preparation based on independent study ONLY)

Non-attending students are kindly requested to contact the lecturer within 1 month after the beginning of the course to fix an on-line appointment. A first contact will be established and queries about the exam preparation and study methods will be answered. Non attending students are required to study the core texts above (Anderson and Armstrong) and will be assigned a customized bibliography on a topic of their choice among the ones covered during the course.

Teaching methods

The course will be taught by a combination of lectures and seminars featuring individual or group presentations on assigned readings and discussion of key research questions. Active contribution to seminars is considered extremely important and it will be subjected to assessment. Every student will be required to present at least once during the course. Students will be required to base their presentations on compulsory weekly readings, trying to provide critic analyses of these materials, compare and contrast different case-studies, discuss peers' responses, situate their arguments within the relevant scholarly debate and elaborate indipendently on the main conceptual points raised during the lectures. 

Assessment methods

The following items will be assessed:

-two take-home essays (a primary souce analysis paper of 2.500 words and an essay of 3.500 words, notes and bibliography excluded), overall 50% of the final mark

tutorial attendance ( one oral presentation and weekly forum entries), 25% of the final mark

final colloquium, 25% of the final mark

Essays must be typed, double-spaced, properly footnoted and containing a brief- but relevant- final bibliography. Sources- at least 5 among scholarly articles, book chapters, and monographies- must build on weekly compulsory and additional readings. See Clevelands' general bibliography above for useful suggestions.

Essay titles will be announced at the beginning of the course. In general, the first essay should be handed in by the end of week 4, the second one by the end of week 8. Late submissions will be penalized (-0.25 points a day). Plagiarism should be avoided with the outmost attention: make sure quotations are done correctly.

Teaching tools

pc, videos, slides, maps

Office hours

See the website of Francesca Biancani

See the website of