HIST 4723 – Jerusalem: City and Symbol Throughout Millennia
The city of Jerusalem is both ancient and modern, both symbolic of heaven and yet very down-to-earth. This course will trace the long history of Jerusalem from the earliest ancient evidence for its existence to the present, paying attention to transformations of physical city, transformations of the political framework, and transformations of the symbolic and religious significance of Jerusalem, both among those who inhabit the city and among people as far afield as medieval Ethiopia and modern America. Particular attention will be paid to the lived experience of religious diversity and to the frequent discrepancy between Jerusalem as symbol and the messy reality. The readings will emphasize primary sources, including sacred texts, and how sacred texts have been used by different communities and by historians.
HIST 3583 – Minorities and Diversity in the Middle East
The Middle East has long been a melting pot, or mosaic, of different groups. Large parts of the region have even been ruled by minorities. This course will explore the history of social diversity in the Middle East, including ways that ethnic and religious minority groups interacted with rulers, the majority, and each other, whether peacefully or not. The effects of long-term social diversity will bring discussion to the contribution of minority groups to the Middle East as we know it today.
HIST 3573 – The Mongol Empire
Genghis Khan is infamous for the destruction caused by his conquests, yet his empire grew to be the largest land empire in history, and he sparked diplomatic and cultural contacts on a far wider scale than ever before. This course traces the Mongol Empire from Genghis himself to the legacy of the divided Mongol khanates two centuries later. Attention will be paid to the Mongol Empire’s institutional structure, political and cultural dynamics, contacts with Europe, and historians’ methods for using primary sources.
HIST 3543 – Israel & Palestine in Modern Times
Between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River are two peoples inhabiting a contested land. What are the historical roots of competing Israeli and Palestinian claims? Is there any hope for peace? This course traces the origins and development of the conflict, from the relatively peaceful period of Ottoman Turkish rule in the nineteenth century through today. We will explore the multidimensional reality of life in this land through themes of politics, economics, and culture, alongside multiple perspectives on current events. Primary sources will provide us not only a range of viewpoints reflecting the diversity of Middle Eastern society, but also the opportunity to develop necessary skills for the study of history.
HIST 3513 – Modern Middle East
The importance of the Middle East to world history is as obvious today as it was in 1517, although it was not necessarily obvious for most of the period in between. This course will trace the transformation of the Middle East politically, socially, and economically through responses to external and internal challenges and new opportunities. Themes traced through the course will include the relationship between the Middle East and Europe, competing visions of modernism and reform, the social diversity encompassing varieties of Muslims as well as non-Muslims, and the importance of considering events from multiple historical viewpoints. Primary sources will provide us not only a range of (Middle Eastern and Western) viewpoints on the topics discussed, but also the opportunity to develop necessary skills for the study of history.
HIST 3503 – Medieval Islamic History
How does a new religion develop and come to dominate a region? How do traditional societies adapt to new circumstances, and why do some people resist changing? How do societies deal with religious, ethnic, and linguistic diversity? The rise of Islam in the ancient and medieval Middle East allows us to consider these big questions in light of an epochal shift in world history. This course will trace the rise of Islam from the emergence of Muhammad in seventh-century Arabia as it became the dominant religion of political and social elites (and a growing portion of the general population) over the course of nine centuries. Primary sources will provide us not only a range of viewpoints reflecting the diversity of pre-modern Middle Eastern society, but also the opportunity to develop necessary skills for the study of history.
HIST 1813 – World History from Ancient Times to 1500
Where do different cultures come from? How have “Westerners” learned from others? What are the histories of India, China, Islam, and the Mongols? And why do we care? This course will survey ancient and medieval world history, exploring human diversity in economic structures, societies, cultures, and religions, as well as what contacts and commonalities have bound humanity together. We will explore the broad trajectories of history in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas, from pre-history until 1500, while challenging common modern American presuppositions about the past and about Europe’s place in history. Students will learn what makes history a distinctive way of approaching the past, and practice their understanding by reading primary sources in translation and making historical arguments. Students will come to see the broad range of premodern cultures and societies, what separates them from one another, and how some of them have been historically linked.
HIST 1713 – Survey of Eastern Civilization
What is history? Is it the study of the Western rise to pre-eminence? Is it primarily a study of our past, why we are great and where our ancestors went wrong? What was going on in Asia and East Africa, during the millennia before modern globalization? And why do we care? This class will explore the broad trajectories of history in the Middle East, India, Central Asia, and the “Far East” from pre-history until 1800, while challenging common modern American presuppositions about the past and about “eastern-ness.” Students will explore what makes history a distinctive way of approaching the past, and practice their understanding by reading primary sources in translation and making historical arguments. Students will come to see the broad range of cultures and societies labeled “Eastern,” what separates them from one another, and how some of them have been historically linked.
REL 2023 – The New Testament and Its Study
A study of the writings of the New Testament in their historical contexts and the methods used in their study. Emphasis interpreting selected New Testament passages.
HIST 5140 - Methods in the Historical Study of Religion
This seminar explores the theory and methods which European and World historians have used to examine the phenomena of religion. The largest group of books are about the Middle East and North Africa, but we read a couple each in European, South Asian, and Chinese history, and spanning in time from Late Antiquity to the early 20th C (but mostly medieval). We discuss questions of ritual, social functions, renunciation, gender, violence, social networks, mass conversion, lived religion, and literate traditions. The seminar should give a range of tools to graduate students thinking about religion as a complex of social and cultural phenomena.
can also be pursued by independent study. Graduate independent studies supervised by me have included topics such as Middle Eastern Christianity, the Medieval Middle East, the Mongol Empire, and Religion and Society in Late Antiquity.
Undergraduate independent studies
are available for exceptional students. Previous independent studies have included Byzantine history and Digital history research methods.