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Graduate Program


The Designated Emphasis (DE) in the Middle East and Islamic Studies offers graduate students the opportunity to study aspects of the Middle East and Islam through their history, politics, law, society, culture, and literature. It trains students to be attentive to enduring historical legacies of colonialism and idioms of cultural inheritance in Europe, from medieval polemics to the Renaissance and Enlightenment, which continue to impact the terms for reflection on and writing about the Middle East and Islam. 

The DE in the Middle East and Islamic Studies is open to Ph.D. students and candidates in any field of study. Courses counting toward the Ph.D. may not also count toward the DE. Students who take an upper-division course to fulfill the DE requirement must register for a 292 and complete additional reading and research. Students pursuing the DE in the Middle East and Islamic Studies must complete its requirements before advancing to candidacy in their Ph.D. field. Exceptions may be petitioned to the director.

A minimum GPA of 3.00 is required for the completion of DE. 

Graduate students who wish to add the DE in the Middle East and Islamic Studies should contact Prof. Muhamad Ali for advice. To access the appropriate form to add the Designated Emphasis in the Middle East and Islamic Studies, please visit the Graduate Division’s website.


The DE in the Middle East and Islamic Studies offers two tracks, one with a requirement for proficiency in a relevant language (Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Hebrew, Urdu or another language, with the approval of the chair of the DE), and/or a placement test and a second track without a language requirement.

TRACK ONE 12 units plus language proficiency (4-6 quarters) 

Three (3) courses (12 units) selected from the list below, at least one of which must be outside of the student’s Ph.D. department, plus the completion of four (4-6) quarters of language study, as described above. 

TRACK TWO 16 units 

Three (4) courses (16 units) selected from the list below, at least one of which must be outside of the student’s Ph.D. department.

In both tracks, the student is required to take a 2 quarter graduate seminar with the prior approval of a faculty member in the relevant discipline. It is understood that the second quarter would be devoted to substantial research and writing. 


AHS 263: Seminar in Islamic Art & Culture

CWPA 256: Contemporary Literature of the Middle East
CWPA 257: The Sufis

HIST 254: New Approaches to Mediterranean History
HIST 277: Approaches to the Early Modern World: The Ottoman Empire and Europe
HIST 278: Early Modern Empires, The Ottomans, and the Safavids

RLST 200: A Religion, Politics, and Public Discourse  
RLST 200C:  Religions in Contact
RLST 249: Public Religious Discourses in Modern Islam
RLST 250: Approaches to Islam in Religious Studies 
RLST 252: Southeast Asian Islam


CPLT 215B:  Issues in Contemporary Theory
CPLT 284: Literature, Colonialism, Religion

RLST 200A: Religion, Politics, and Public Discourse 
RLST 201: Thinking about Religion: Classic Theories in the Study of Religion 
RLST 202: Contemporary Theories and Theorists in the Study of Religion
RLST 203: Hermeneutics and History
RLST 204: Analytics of Power
RLST 205: Transnational Religions

SPN 251: Seminar in the Literature of the Middle Ages and Early Renaissance
SPN 279: Studies in Spanish Literature and Culture


AHS 125:  Illustrations and Illuminations: The Arts of the Book in the Islamic World
AHS 126: Sultans and Saints: The Visual and Material Culture of Islam in South Asia

ANTH 136/SEAS 136: Anthropological Perspectives on Gender in Southeast Asia 
ANTH 169/GBST 169: From the Maghreb to the Middle East 
ANTH 188/GSST 151: Islam, Women, and the State
ANTH 189/GSST 168: Gender and Power in Muslim Societies
ANTH 109: Women, Power, and Social Movements

ARLC 120: Classical Arabic Literary Prose
ARLC 151/CPLT 151: Palestine/Algeria
ARLC 152/CPLT 152: Modern Arabic Poetry in a Multilingual Frame
ARLC 154/CPLT 154/PHIL154: Introduction to Arabic Philosophy
ARLC 155/RLST 157: Introduction to Arabic Literature
ARLC 156/CPLT 156/RLST 156: Jews and Arabs 
ARLC 158/CPLT 158/RLST 158: Islam and Psychoanalysis 

GSST 151: Islam, Women, and the State
GSST 162: Women’s Issues in Modern Muslim Thought 
GSST 168: Gender and Power in Muslim Societies
GSST 169: Front the Maghreb to the Middle East

HIST 121: Survey of Middle Eastern History, 1200-1800 
HIST 122: Modern Middle Eastern History, 1798-1935
HIST 124: Women in Middle Eastern-Islamic History; 
HIST 125: Islam & Revolution in Iran 
HIST 126: Istanbul in History and Fiction
HIST 128: Iran through Literature and Cinema  

MCS 172: Politics of Representations - Images from the Islamic Worlds 

POSC 133: Politics of Central Asia in Comparative Perspective
POSC 152: Politics of the Middle East
POSC 156: Political Systems across Muslim Societies

RLST 111: Islam
RLST 113: Topics in Modern Islam
RLST 116: Religion and Violence
RLST 149: Southeast Asian Religions
RLST 150: Islam in Southeast Asia
RLST 151: Reading the Qur’an
RLST 155/PHIL 155: Peace in the Middle East

SPN 193: Senior Seminar in the Literatures and Cultures of the Hispanic World

THEA 191J: Staging the Middle East

Faculty Advisor/Contact

Muhamad Ali,
Director, Middle East and Islamic Studies
Designated Emphasis in “Middle East and Islamic Studies”

Committee in Charge 

Muhamad Ali, Chair (Religious Studies)
Reza Aslan (Creative Writing)
Sherine Hafez (Gender & Sexuality Studies)
Erith Jaffe-Berg (Theatre, Film, and Digital Production)
Ruhi Khan (Media and Cultural Studies)
Kyle Khellaf (Comp Lit & Lang)
Laila Lalami (Creative Writing)
Benjamin Liu (Hispanic Studies)
Susan Ossman (Anthropology)
Fatima Quraishi (History of Art)
Jeff Sacks (Comp Lit & Lang)
Fariba Zarinebaf (History)
CHASS Dean, ex officio