Middle Eastern Studies

Jennifer Schultz, Old Main 130


The Middle Eastern studies concentration introduces students to the study of the diverse, culturally rich, and increasingly complex part of the world that currently includes the Arab world, parts of Africa, Iran, Israel, and Turkey, recognizing the interconnectedness of peoples and cultures and locating their significance in wider global contexts. The concentration facilitates the interdisciplinary study of the Middle East, encouraging students to combine courses in a number of fields, particularly history, political science, religion, and sociology/anthropology.

Overview of the Concentration

The concentration in Middle Eastern studies provides students with the opportunity to study the ways in which members of Middle Eastern cultures have understood and interpreted the world, as well as the way in which others have interpreted the Middle East. As students explore the experiences, values, intellectual and artistic achievements, and economic, religious, political, and sociological systems and structures that influence Middle Eastern cultures, they gain a fuller understanding of the significance of the Middle East in its own right as well as in relation to the rest of the world.

Intended Learning Outcomes for the Concentration

Special Programs

Students are encouraged to take advantage of the many opportunities to study in the Middle East through St. Olaf international and off-campus programs, including: Global Semester, Mediterranean Semester, the ACM Semester in Middle Eastern and Arabic Language Studies in Amman (Jordan), Semester at Bogazici University (Istanbul, Turkey), or Semester at American University in Cairo (Egypt).

The Middle Eastern studies concentration requires a minimum of five courses. Courses must deal in a significant and disciplined manner with one or more aspects of Middle Eastern culture or (medieval or modern) history. At least one course must be taken on campus. Typically, one course taken on Global Semester counts toward the concentration. Many courses offered by relevant departments at the American University of Cairo and Bogazici University, among other semester abroad destinations, count toward the concentration.

Courses taken abroad should be certified by the director of the Middle Eastern studies concentration as fulfilling the appropriate course requirements.

MEST 202: Topics in Modern Middle Eastern Studies

This course introduces students to different topics within the cultures and traditions of the modern Middle East. Students gain familiarity with significant moments, movements, voices, and trends in society, politics, architecture, and literature, and their interdependence. The course also acquaints students with intellectual debates and conflicts in and about the Middle East, and enables them to better think through those debates for themselves. May be repeated if topic is different. Offered annually in the spring semester.

The following courses, offered on- and off-campus during the 2018-19 academic year, count towards the Middle Eastern studies concentration:

Fall 2018

ENGL 209 Arab American Literature and Film

HIST 291 Introduction to African History

ID 234 Human Geography of the Middle East

REL 246 Islam -- Religion and Community

Interim 2019

BIO 253 Water in Morocco: Precious, Precarious, and Problematic (abroad)

FREN 235 French Language and Moroccan Culture in Fez (abroad)

REL 271 Bible in Context:Hist/Geography/Culture in Israel & Palestine (abroad)

Spring 2019

HIST 189 Topical Seminar Topic: Jihad and Crusade

MEST 202 Topics in Modern Middle Eastern Studies Topic: Middle Eastern Film

REL 217 Christian and Islamic Ethics: Conflicts and Cross-Pollination

REL 248 Judaism

See also: Carleton Courses with Seats Reserved for St. Olaf Students (contact Jamie Schillinger, Director of Middle Eastern Studies, for more information)

Fall 2018: ARBC 101 Elementary Arabic

Interim 2019: ARBC 102 Elementary Arabic

Spring 2019: ARBC 103 Elementary Arabic

Director, 2020-2021

Robert W. McClure

Associate Professor of Practice in Education

social studies; educational psychology; curriculum and instruction

Ibtesam âl-Atiyat

Associate Professor of Sociology/Anthropology

Arab society; gender; social movements; Islamic movements

Ali Chamseddine

Visiting Instructor in Religion

Abdulai Iddrisu

Associate Professor of History

African history; Islam in Africa

Linda Y. Mokdad (on leave)

Assistant Professor of English

film history; classical film theory; feminist film theory; art cinema; Arab cinemas

Jamie A. Schillinger (on leave)

Associate Professor of Religion

Christian thought and ethics; Islamic thought and ethics

Maria F. Vendetti

Assistant Professor of Romance Languages - French

20th- and 21st-century French and Francophone literature; literature and testimony during and after the Algerian War of Independence; literary and filmic representations of torture, trauma, and war