HIS21170 The Making of the Middle East

Academic Year 2022/2023

The region known as the Middle East is almost synonymous, in the eyes of its foreign observers, with the idea of
violence. From Napoleon’s short-lived occupation of Egypt to the Iranian Revolution of 1979 to
9/11, Euro-American imaginaries were saturated with fantasies and fears of Muslim violence.
Islam, the dominant religion of the people of the Middle East, has been regarded as a particularly
or uniquely bellicose. Words like jihad and caliph struck terror in the minds of colonial officials
and thinktank pundits who shaped entire policies around the idea of containing what they
believed to be divinely-inspired violence. For the powers that were and still be, political
movements and revolutions in the Middle East were evidence of an innate fanaticism—a failure
of modernity itself to tame the passions and the furies of the peoples it left behind. In this
lecture and module we examine a number of myths around the relationship between religion and
violence in the Modern Middle East. In this module, we critically interrogate the most central
cornerstones—sectarianism, artificial borders, for example—of the myth of ‘Muslim rage’ and
come to understand how such ideas have shaped imperial and neo-imperial policy in the region
from the nineteenth century to the present.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

At the end of the module, students should be able to:

- Understand the history of the idea of the 'Middle East'.
- Critique the way in which it is deployed to interpret life in the Arabophone, Turcophone and Persiophone lands south and east of the Mediterranean.
- Understand how ideas about ‘Middle Eastern’ societies shaped the institutions that were designed to govern them.
- Understand how activists and thinkers from the region engaged, critiqued and refuted such ideas as they attempted to emancipate themselves from colonial and postcolonial despots, imagining as they did alternative futures.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This module combines large-group and small-group teaching, through a weekly
lecture and seminar. Weekly lectures provide overviews of weekly topics, with focus
upon key historical trends, debates and events. Weekly seminars focus on small-group
active / task-based learning using both secondary and primary sources related to the
weekly topic covered in the lecture. Autonomous learning is nurtured through
required preparatory reading each week, and a formative and summative written
assignment. Key research, writing and citation skills are explicitly incorporated into
seminar work and are assessed and advanced from the formative to the summative
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Essay: 1,500 word mid-semester essay plan Week 5 n/a Graded No


Essay: End of semester essay of up to 2,500 words Week 12 n/a Graded No


Continuous Assessment: Student participation and contribution in weekly seminars Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback given on the essay plan will be given individually. This should be used to complete the final essay assignment.