Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College


History 252. The Modern Middle East

This course will provide an essential background necessary to understand the contemporary turmoil in the modern Middle East. It will do so by exploring three key ideologies – imperialism, nationalism, and Islamism – that have shaped the region’s tumultuous history.

Imperialism: we will study European involvement and how it shaped Middle Eastern institutions, political outlooks, social and intellectual currents.

Nationalism: we will address the reactions and responses of political elites, the middle classes and the poor to new concepts of democracy, secularism and nationalism that dominated the Middle East in the 20th century.

Islamism: we will investigate the foundational ideas of Islamism, examine the life and work of key leaders, and trace the development of ideological trends in the context of the political and international developments of the late 20th century.

Although the focus of the course will be on the Middle East, students with an interest in other parts of the Muslim world are encouraged to engage with the themes raised in the course materials from a comparative perspective.