REL 405
Kings, Heroes, Gods, & Monsters: Historical Texts and Modern Identities in the Middle East
Last Offered Fall 2011
Division II Writing Skills Exploring Diversity Initiative
Cross-listed JWST 410 / REL 405 / ARAB 410 / HIST 410
This course is not offered in the current catalog or this is a previous listing for a current course.

Class Details

What role does ancient history play in modern societies? What is the role of myths and fables in the creation of national identities? This course will address the use and abuse of ancient history and archaeology in the modern Middle East. The first part will focus on some of the primary ancient texts, with special focus on Ferdowsi’s epic Shahnameh (Book of Kings); we will compare its themes and world view with those of the Icelandic sagas that share many similarities with the Iranian canon. In the second part of the course we will explore how ancient history, archaeology, and epic texts helped forge national identities in the modern Middle East. Our primary attention will be Iran and its relationship with the Shahnameh. But we will also consider the relationship of Biblical history to the establishment of modern Israel and Israeli nationalism, how contemporary Egypt relates to its Pharaonic past, the obsession with pre-Islamic history in modern Turkey, and the relationship between archaeological artifacts and ancient Mesopotamian history and 20th century Iraqi politics. Because of its comparative focus, this course is part of the Exploring Diversity Initiative.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 1396
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: a final, 25-page research paper on the relationship between ancient history and a modern Middle Eastern country, shorter papers, and group work
Prerequisites: previous upper division work in History or courses on the Middle East
Enrollment Preferences: History majors, Jewish Studies concentrators, Arabic Studies majors, and other students with a strong background in Middle East studies
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills Exploring Diversity Initiative
Notes: meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under ARAB
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
JWST 410 Division II REL 405 Division II ARAB 410 Division I HIST 410 Division II
Attributes: HIST Group E Electives - Middle East
HIST Group G Electives - Global History
JWST Elective Courses

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