Week 2 Roll Call

The quarter got into its full swing this week. I had a full load of reading and writing. As I noted in the first post of the quarter, my reading load is really quite a bit lighter this quarter. This will give me the opportunity to provide a greater diversity of posts. Last week, I wrote that I would use this extra space and time to talk about pedagogy, my research, and other things. These kinds of things will be forthcoming, and some will be incorporated into my weekly roll calls.

Without further ado, readings from Week 2:

Middle East in the Twentieth Century

This week’s readings focused on the two World Wars, the interwar period, and the establishment of the mandatory administrations in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Transjordan, and Palestine. I’ll provide a post on the Mandate in the Middle East for more information about this period this week.

Scholarship of the Modern Middle East, Post-Colonial

Longrigg, Stephen Hemsley. Syria and Lebanon under French Mandate. London: Oxford University Press, 1958.

We’re doing something a bit unique at the beginning of the quarter where each student picks a different book to read each week (not sure if this will continue beyond these first two weeks). The authors of these books were, in some way, involved in European occupation of the Middle East from the late 19th century to the interwar period. An interesting variety were presented last week, from a British Zionist to Lord Cromer, and the book I selected by Longrigg.

Though Longrigg’s first relationship with the Middle East was through his service in Iraq during the First World War and then as a British mandatory official there, and later worked for the Iraq Petroleum Company, he wrote this book as a 15-year retrospective on the French mandate in Syria and Lebanon, examining the legacy of the mandate generally. His purpose is manifold: he wants to counter the notion that the British had any acquisitive interests in the region during the period (this was, apparently, a great issue based on the vehemence with which he denies it throughout the work); he wants to show the possibilities and problems of mandatory administration; and he wants to support the notion of the mandate at a time where historical perspective has perhaps painted it with a rather bad brush. These purposes are weaved throughout the work and are part of the overarching thesis that, in spite of the many and positive contributions of the French to the mandatory and post-mandatory state (most of which have been overlooked by detractors of the mandate and of people in the region), the project was ultimately a failure due to the implementation of an administration that refused to acknowledge and adapt to local political and societal circumstances.

Works such as Longrigg’s provide the historian with first-hand accounts of the intentions, beliefs, and worldviews of those involved in the Mandatory system implemented in the Middle East in the aftermath of World War I in the former Ottoman Empire.

French Revolution, 1789-1815

Week 2 offered a continuation of the discussion on the social, ideological, political, and economic realities of France in the years immediately preceding the Revolution in 1789. To drive this point home, the class was assigned several primary documents that revealed the various currents of thought proliferating at the time, and we watched the 1988 film, Dangerous Liaisons, based on the novel Les liaisons dangereuses, written by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos in 1782.

Week 1 Roll Call

Week 1 turned out to be quite light on the reading. See below for the readings I did get to look at, my thoughts on/overview of them, and future posting possibilities.

Middle East in the Twentieth Century

There are three assigned texts for this class: William Cleveland’s A History of the Modern Middle East, James Gelvin’s The Modern Middle East: A History, and Charles D. Smith’s Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict. My plan is to provide a summary of the readings and class lectures. Week 1 focused on the Middle East in the 19th century, with Turkey, the Arab Middle East, and parts of North Africa under Ottoman rule, and Iran under Qajar rule. We discussed the development of notions of modernity over the course of the 19th century in Europe and the Middle East, showing the ways in which the same modernization projects happening in Europe were occurring in the Ottoman Empire and Qajar Iran concurrently. We also looked at the lead up to World War I, which we’ll be discussing more fully Week 2.

I’m also going to (*fingers crossed*) use this space to keep you (and myself) up-to-date on my readings for the final assignment I’m undertaking for this class. I’ve decided to conduct a historiography* of sorts, using the opportunity of a class assignment to begin to situate myself in the literature I will be using for my dissertation project, as well as for my Middle East research paper next quarter (our program requires two two-quarter research series – this year I’ve been in the U.S. Research seminar; next year I’ll take the Middle East). So, I’ll be looking at memoirs, the vast majority written by women, from the Mandate period (1920-1945) in Syria and Lebanon. I’m excited to get this project going and have two on my list so far: Anbara Salam’s Memoirs of an Early Arab Feminist and Wadad Makdisi Cortas’ A World I Loved. More to come on this.

Scholarship of the Modern Middle East, Post-Colonial

No assignments for Week 1. Stay tuned next week for my summary of Stephen Hemsley Longrigg’s Syria and Lebanon under French Mandate.

The French Revolution, 1789-1815

Week 1 in this class provided an introduction to some of the social conflicts present in pre-revolutionary France. Along these lines, the assigned readings focused on providing a general historical background supported by a variety of primary sources from Laura Mason and Tracey Rizzo’s The French Revolution: A Document Collection, as well as some online sources.

Though this is the class that I’m a grader for, and not one that I’m taking, I’m going to include the readings for it in my weekly roll call. I think this class will provide good fodder for a discussion of pedagogy and pedagogical techniques related to readings, course content, and class structure.


*Historiography: the study of the study of history; or, how historians have examined a particular event, period, or person, with a particular focus on how that has changed over time, methods that have been employed in historical analysis, and the theoretical framework that has been used in that study


If you’re on the quarter system, how was your first week? If not, how’s the mid-semester point? Anyone on spring break?