Browse All Graduate Courses

Graduate students must take graduate courses (course code level 1000+) to meet the graduate degree course requirements. In consultation with your academic advisor, undergraduate courses may be taken as a part of your degree program, however, graduate credit will not be given for undergraduate courses.

Cross-listed undergraduate and graduate courses are acceptable as a part of your program and will count towards your graduate degree course requirements. Note: Ensure you enrol in the cross-listed graduate level course (e.g., NMC1001Y is cross-listed with NML305Y; therefore, ensure you enrol in NMC1001Y to receive graduate credit on your academic record).

Please note that a number of graduate courses in the Department of Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations demand an ability to handle primary sources in their original language or languages.

Course Categories

 

Ancient Near Eastern Studies

Assyriology

This elementary Akkadian course is devoted to the study of the classical Old Babylonian dialect. The grammar is studied in depth throughout the year, using as textbook J. Huehnergard’s A Grammar of Akkadian. Students must also learn the basic cuneiform signs in their standard Neo-Assyrian shape. At the end of the year students will have read most of the Code of Hammurabi and selections from omen literature.

This intermediate Akkadian course is devoted to the study of the literary Akkadian dialect of the late second and first millennia, usually known as Standard Babylonian. Students will read excerpts of literary texts and royal inscriptions in R. Borger’s Babylonisch‑Assyrische Lesestücke and eventually proceed to more ambitious compositions such as The Annals of Sennacherib and Enuma Elish. Students are also expected to deepen their knowledge of the Neo-Assyrian cuneiform script.

In this course we read and analyze texts that are commonly called “historical,” such as royal inscriptions, chronicles, historical‑literary compositions, kudurrus, etc. Considerable attention is devoted to both the historical aspects of the context and historiographical questions. Texts in various dialects and scripts are studied.

This graduate seminar course follows the Dual-Delivery model (Synchronous or in person) and necessitates the use of Quercus (Blackboard Collaborate Ultra).

The course includes readings on specific problems of Sumerian grammar and study of literary and lexical texts, chiefly from the Old Babylonian period (ca. 2000-1600 B.C.). Students are expected to deepen their knowledge of the cuneiform script and to be able to undertake individual research on Sumerian language and texts by the end of the year. To that effect much emphasis will be put on methodology: how to use dictionaries, electronic databases, sign lists, editions of ancient lexical and grammatical texts.

The course begins with a survey of Assyrian grammar, emphasizing the differences between the Assyrian and Babylonian dialects of Akkadian and setting Assyrian within the historical development of Akkadian and more generally of Semitic languages. The main part consists of readings in the original cuneiform of texts from the Old Assyrian period (2000–1700 BC), the Middle Assyrian period (1400–1100 BC), and the Neo-Assyrian period (900–600 BC). 

This course is devoted to the study of letters, legal texts, and administrative documents from ca. 2350-1600 B.C.E. (Old Akkadian to Old Babylonian). The purpose is for students to deepen their ability to read classical and peripheral Old Babylonian texts with the cursive script of that period, and acquire basic knowledge of Old Akkadian. Attention will also be paid to the historical and cultural significance of these texts and to their archival and archaeological context.

This course is devoted to the study of letters, legal texts, and administrative documents from the Middle, Neo- and Late Babylonian periods (ca. 1400-100 B.C.E.). Considerable attention is devoted to the archival and archaeological context of these documents and to their political, economic, and social setting. By the end of the year students are expected to acquire a working knowledge of Middle and Neo-Babylonian grammar and script.

The course will include basic and intermediate study of grammar Sumerian and its complex writing system. The course will involve reading and discussion of the main grammatical works as well as progressive exercises from actual texts. By the end of the year students should have acquired a fairly good understanding of the grammar and script and be able to read royal inscriptions and basic economic and administrative texts.

This course presents a thematic overview of Mesopotamian society and economy from the third millennium to the first millennium BC. The emphasis is on critical evaluation of the primary sources (in translation), such as everyday legal contracts and the so-called “Laws”. It also explores different approaches to the study of ancient social structures and economies. Topics include: freedom, slavery, and social class; ethnicity; women, children, and the elderly; marriage, family, and household; crime and punishment, and the judicial system; the priesthood; palace and temple, private and state; merchants and trade; money, markets, and prices, and the question of whether there was a market economy; labour and wages; land ownership and tenure, and wealth and social inequality.

From ca. 3000 to 1600 B.C.E. the Ancient Near East was the stage upon which parts were played by a variety of peoples and because of their great achievements, this area has often been called the “Cradle of Civilization.” This course provides a broad perspective of the major events and developments, as well as a more intensive examination of specific topics: political ideology, religion, literature, and law. Such matters as the city-states of the early Sumerians, the rise of Semitic nation-states, and the famous law collection of Hammurabi of Babylon will be examined making use of both textual and archaeological evidence. The reading of original sources in translation is stressed.

This course traces the political development and cultural history of Mesopotamia, from the territorial states of the Late Bronze Age to the world’s first empires in the first millennium BC, those of Assyria, Babylonia, and Achaemenid Persia. It also traces the subsequent history of Mesopotamia through the Seleukid and early Parthian eras, down to the end of cuneiform writing around the end of the first millennium BC. The course emphasizes the critical analysis of primary written sources (in translation) for reconstructing the history of the peoples of Mesopotamia. It also examines their achievements in literature, science and scholarship, and art and architecture.

Ancient Mesopotamia is well known as the birthplace of some of the world’s earliest cities. This course investigates the physical form of the city in second and first millennium BC Babylonia (southern Mesopotamia) as the setting for the daily activities of its inhabitants. It examines the key components of the Babylonian city: houses; neighbourhoods and city districts; palaces; temples and ziggurats; streets and alleys; shops and markets; city walls, gates, and moats, as well as canals, orchards and gardens. The course emphasises the reading and critical evaluation of written sources in translation, including selected royal inscriptions, topographical texts, and legal and administrative documents. It also considers ways of approaching the study of ancient cities and addresses the integration of textual and archaeological evidence. The focus is on investigating the relationship between Babylonian city form and contemporary social structure. 

The course offers a detailed introduction to the Neo-Assyrian empire and how it functioned, based on study of a representative selection of written sources (in translation). It examines Assyrian kingship, imperial administration, and daily life as reflected in the texts, including the royal inscriptions, official correspondence, astrological reports, and everyday legal and administrative documents. The course studies a cross-section of Assyrian society taking into account various perspectives, from the king and his highest officials and court scholars to the lowest-ranking subjects and deportees. It also investigates the economic basis of the Assyrian empire, including taxation and tribute, booty from military conquest, specialist craft production, and agriculture. The course emphasizes the historical evaluation and interpretation of the primary written sources.

Dual Delivery: *Online Synchronous for Fall. This is a dual course that has both synchronous and asynchronous components. Attendance in a weekly discussion class via Blackboard Collaborate/Quercus is required (a choice of webinar timeslots will be available), but all other content is uploaded for you to review prior to the webinar. Audio equipment is required. A camera is highly desirable but not necessary.

This course takes a methodological approach to the study of Ancient Near Eastern Religion. Using archaeological evidence and ancient texts, we develop a variety of ways to work towards a reconstruction of Ancient Near Eastern religious practices and beliefs.

Aramaic-Syriac Studies

The course is designed to introduce the student to the Aramaic language through selected readings and a study of grammar. First term: Ezra 4:8‑6:18; 7:12‑26; and selected Aramaic texts from the 5th/4th centuries B.C.E. Second term: Daniel 2:4‑7:28. Grammar will be studied with reference to Hebrew and Syriac. Because of the type of Aramaic studied, students of Akkadian and Egyptian should be interested. The course is valuable for students concentrating on Syria‑Palestine.

As a first step in this course, Old Syriac inscriptions and contracts from Edessa and its vicinity (1st to 3rd centuries C.E.) are read. These texts belong to a late Aramaic dialect and, therefore, a description of the grammatical features of this dialect is given, as contrasted with Imperial Aramaic. As a second step in this course, sections from the Peshitta version of the Bible, namely the Pentateuch, are read and analysed. Comparison of vocabulary, expressions, and verb usages in the Peshitta and in the various Targumim will be made. Exegetical commentaries of the Bible, verse homilies and hymns, historiographical literature, and spiritual and mystical writings could also be read. Syriac literature is of interest to Near and Middle Eastern studies, religious studies, church history and theology, Jewish studies, classics, mediaeval studies, etc.

This course is designed to enable students to undertake intensive study in the Palestinian dialect of Aramaic (Western Aramaic) found in the Palestinian Talmud and the Palestinian midrashic texts. This year we will begin our study with Tractate Niddah chapters 1 and 2. We will focus on Aramaic terminology and its function in the punctuation of the text. We will examine the way in which tannaitic material, especially Tosefta is used in text. Special attention will be paid to the parallels in the Babylonian Talmud to determine the mode and accuracy of transmission. Secondary literature and aids such as the Bar-Ilan database, concordances, and dictionaries will be introduced to the student.

In this course students will read, translate and discuss a large selection of ancient inscriptions written in the various Aramaic dialects. Inscriptions dated between the 9th and 7th centuries B.C.E., originating mostly from Northern Mesopotamia, Syria, and Palestine, will be read first; inscriptions coming from Egypt, Arabia, Syria, Asia Minor, and Mesopotamia, dated between the 7th and 3rd centuries B.C.E. will be then dealt with; and later in the academic year students will read inscriptions from Palmyra, Edessa, and Hatra, dated after the 2nd century B.C.E.

Selected texts from the extensive Syriac historiographical literature will be read in the original Syriac language and scripts and analyzed for style, grammar, and content. The texts will be taken from Syriac chronicles, of which there is a series culminating in the voluminous works of Michael the Syrian (12th century) and Bar-Hebraeus (13th century). Both are precious sources, mainly but not exclusively, for the history of the Crusades. Particular attention will be paid to the history of the Middle East and Byzantium from the 5th to the end of the 14th centuries. Students are expected to prepare the texts in advance for reading and analysis in class.

Selections from exegetical literature on the Bible will be read in Syriac and will be analyzed not only for their linguistic form and data, but also for their interpretive content. Extant literature includes commentaries on Genesis and Exodus by Ephrem the Syrian (4th century), as well as commentaries on all biblical books by Ishodad of Merv (9th century) and Dionysius bar Salibi (12th century). In addition, numerous “scolia” on individual passages have survived, such as those of James of Edessa (7th century) and, further, his Hexaemeron, a commentary on the six days of creation. In light of the chronological span of the literature, some attention will be paid to the development of Syriac interpretive tradition.

Prerequisites: NMC 1100Y Introduction to Aramaic.

This is an online, synchronous course. Students will have the opportunity for synchronous online webinar class 2hrs/week (Tuesday 10-12am EST) and the ability to ask questions and clarifications about the lectures. Students need PowerPoint and the ability to use Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.

Various texts in the Pentateuch dealing with ritual impurity, birth, Levirate marriage, marriage, and divorce in both legal and narrative sections will be studied using the following Targumim: Onkelos, Pseudo-Jonathan, and Neofiti. The Samaritan and Syriac Targumim will be collated as additional references. Midrashic sources of Pseudo-Jonathan and Neofiti will be discussed. A comparative study of the Targumim will be made in reference to grammar, syntax, vocabulary, and translation strategies. Solid background in Biblical Hebrew or Introductory Aramaic or experience with Eastern Aramaic from the Babylonian Talmud required.

Learning the syntax of Babylonian Aramaic and building vocabulary will be accomplished through study of the text of a Babylonian Talmud tractate and its traditional commentaries. Comparisons to Biblical Aramaic and other Aramaic dialects will be noted. Y. N. Epstein’s Aramit Bavlit will be the reference for grammar study. M. Sokoloff’s A Dictionary of Jewish Babylonian Aramaic is the required dictionary. Jastrow’s Dictionary of Talmud Babli, Yerushalmi, Midrashic Literature and Targumim may also be helpful. Strong Hebrew background and/or introductory Aramaic required.

Egyptology

This course introduces students to the hieroglyphic script and the classical form of the ancient Egyptian language. After the basic elements of grammar are mastered, the class will begin the reading of simple hieroglyphic texts.

A continuation of NMC 1201Y, in which the student is exposed to a wide range of hieroglyphic texts in the Middle Egyptian dialect. Sources of historical, literary, religious, and economic significance will be studied. The grammar and syntax covered in NMC 1201Y are reviewed intensively. 

Prerequisites: NMC 1201Y (= NML 240Y).

The course introduces the student to the Late Egyptian dialect attested from the New Kingdom on and spanning the period from c. 1300 - 700 BCE. Students will be introduced to grammar, syntax, and orthography through readings of original texts; these will include stories, letters, business documents, and formal inscriptions. 

Prerequisites: NMC 1201Y, NMC 1202Y.

In this course we read and analyze texts written in the cursive script known as “hieratic.” Texts from all periods of Egyptian history will be read, hence a sound knowledge of all stages of the Egyptian language will be necessary.

Prerequisites: NMC 1201Y, NMC 1202Y, NMC 1203Y (or permission of the instructor).

An advanced language seminar that introduces the student to the grammar and writing system of Egyptian texts from the Old Kingdom and First Intermediate Periods (c. 2400 – 2100 B.C.E.). Texts studied are from funerary, legal, administrative, and cultic contexts, with a focus on autobiographical texts and their development over time. All texts will be read in the original, and students will learn to analyze them in terms of both language/grammar and content. The historical and social, as well as the archaeological, context of the texts will be given due weight.

Prerequisites: NMC 1201Y, NMC 1202Y.

This is an advanced language seminar that introduces the student to the analysis, in terms of both language/grammar and content, of Egyptian texts of historical significance. Texts from the periods of the Old Kingdom up to the Late Period will be studied, and all texts will be read in the original. Particular attention will be paid to the cultural and social context of the texts, and questions such as how to best define “historical texts”, and to what extent literary texts may be used as historical sources, will be discussed.

Prerequisites: NMC 1201Y, NMC 1202Y.

Online-Synchronous: Lectures will be delivered online per the meeting schedule. Students need the ability to use the Quercus website and the Blackboard Collaborate software.

This is an advanced language seminar that introduces the student to the analysis, in terms of both language/grammar and content, of texts that elucidate Egyptian religious conceptions. Texts from all periods of pharaonic history will be studied, and all texts will be read in the original. A particular focus will be on texts from funerary contexts, for which the most complete sources can be found, but cultic, magical, and theological texts will also be studied.

Prerequisites: NMC 1201Y, NMC 1202Y.

Semester-long reading of ancient Egyptian Instructional Texts, aka “Wisdom Literature”, this will be read in Egyptian hieroglyphic script.

Prerequisites: NMC 1201Y, NMC 1202Y.

This course examines the cultural and political history of ancient Egypt from the Middle Kingdom through the Ptolemaic Period, emphasizing the analysis of primary sources of evidence (inscriptional, archaeological, iconographic) and the role of critical thinking in the reconstruction of ancient history.

This is an online synchronous course built around webinar meetings held 3 hrs/week that they will lead and participate in, focusing on discussions of issues and analysis of archaeological evidence related to the course topic. They will also be in close communication with the instructor to develop individual research projects that allow original analysis of primary data, and will prepare presentations on these projects that will be posted for asynchronous viewing by course participants and discussion in the webinars. Students need PowerPoint and the ability to use Blackboard Collaborate (Ultra).

This course deals with the recognition and interpretation of ancient Egyptian symbols and the representations of human and divine figures as preserved in the epigraphic record. We will examine issues such as the intersection of Egyptian art and writing and the appropriateness of terminology such as “art”, “canon”, and “aspective” in analyzing Egyptian representations.

(PhD students in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations excluded.) The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the religion of ancient Egypt. A number of themes, such as the gods, mythology, the afterlife, cult and ritual, etc., will be studied through primary sources in translation. These documents will enable the student to understand the religious beliefs and practices of the ancient Egyptians, and to set them within their historical and social contexts.

Hebrew and Judaic Studies

A seminar on ancient Hebrew inscriptions, as well as the closely related Moabite, Edomite, Ammonite, and Phoenician texts. Knowledge of biblical Hebrew is supposed. A basic bibliography is supplied, and a grasp of the scholarly literature is required. The texts are prepared in advance and presented by the students, with emphasis on grammatical, syntactic, literary, historical, and religious questions, and with consideration of orthographic and paleographical issues.

This course focuses on text-critical study of the Hebrew Bible, providing an introduction to the manuscript evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Septuagint, the Masoretic text, and the Samaritan Pentateuch, as well as from other ancient sources. Issues pertaining to paleography, orthography, and manuscript production are discussed, as well as processes of textual composition and development, and techniques used by ancient translators (Greek, Latin, etc.). Of particular interest is the state of the biblical text leading to the time of canonization in the first or second century C.E. Elementary Hebrew is a prerequisite and elementary Greek recommended.

Against the background of the neighbouring civilizations, the course will examine Israel’s view of her origins, the early settlement in Canaan, the united monarchy, the two kingdoms, their downfall and exile, and the restoration of the Jerusalem religious community in the Persian Empire. Socio-economic, cultural, and religious structures and accomplishments will be discussed at convenient points of this chronological framework.

This course will cover the Hebrew text of a biblical book (e.g. Samuel, Ezekiel) or a thematic group (e.g. wisdom literature, minor prophets) in order to develop skills of close textual analysis and to learn and apply the tools of critical biblical scholarship.

This is a flipped classroom + dual delivery course. Lectures will be given as 2-hrs online videos/week asynchronously. Students will have the opportunity for a dual-delivery in-class / webinar class 2 hrs/week. Students participating in the Thursday meeting remotely need the ability to use Blackboard Collaborate (Ultra).

This course will consist of ‘close-reading’ of selections of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job in order to develop skills in reading biblical wisdom literature in its literary and ancient Near Eastern historical contexts.

This course provides an advanced investigation of selected issues in ancient Jewish texts stemming from the Second Temple Period (5th cent. BCE – 1st cent. CE) and includes comparative study of biblical writings, apocrypha and pseudepigrapha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and writings of ancient Jewish historians and philosophers. The specific topic of the course varies from one semester to another, and can deal with, e.g. language, scriptural interpretation, poetry and liturgy, theology, legal developments, and social and political history. The course has a strong research and writing component.

Prerequisites: Knowledge of Hebrew required. Greek or Aramaic may be recommended

Various current researches in Tannaitic and/or Midrashic literature will be the focus of this course. The relationship of Midrash to Tosefta and to the Talmuds; the relationship of the Halakhic Midrashim to these; comparisons among redactional time frames; and text‑criticism are all topics that will be addressed, with emphasis changing in accordance with the background of the student.

Mishnah and Tosefta constitute two of the three foundational documents of Middle Hebrew. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to specific features of this level of Hebrew (syntax, grammar, vocabulary), to note the developments from Biblical Hebrew, to examine these compositions independently, and to analyze their interaction (textuality and intratextuality). Tractate Niddah will be the focus of our analysis. We will also examine current scholarly positions concerning the redaction of these documents and their relationship to each other. Students will be trained to use the Bar Ilan Responsa Project database effectively to facilitate word searches and location of parallels to assist them in evaluating variant readings. Students will learn to interpret and to create a critical apparatus.

Prerequisites: Knowledge of Intermediate Hebrew (Biblical or Modern).

Law reflects the way in which society understands and organizes itself through common agreements and forms of restraint. This course examines the different ways religious legislation was generated in ancient Jewish communities and the different functions such legislation served in these communities. Special attention will focus on the legal codes embedded in the Torah, exploring the many similarities with and dependence upon other ancient Near Eastern legal corpora and judicial systems. Extra-canonical Jewish texts from the Second Temple and early rabbinic period will be studied as well, since they illumine the processes of scriptural exegesis and community development through which legal codes evolved.

Discoveries at Qumran near the Dead Sea unearthed a library of an ancient Jewish community containing over 900 fragmentary scrolls. Included were manuscripts of the Hebrew Scriptures, apocrypha and pseudepigrapha – some of which were previously known, many unknown – and writings composed by the community. Among them were texts concerned with religious law, exegetical texts, calendrical and sapiential texts, as well as liturgical and poetic compositions. This course focuses on selected Scrolls with special attention to the language, form and content, and scribal characteristics of these texts. Knowledge of Hebrew is required.

Extensive reading in the works of a major poet. Emphasis will be on the poetry of Bialik and Amichai. Conducted in Hebrew.

Prerequisites: Permission of instructor.

The course is designed to introduce the advanced student of Modern Hebrew to modern prose written primarily in what today is this state of Israel. To this end we spent two weeks looking at the motifs and styles available in contemporary children’s literature with an eye to the use of biblical allusions. This then serves as background to a study of selections of short stories by the Nobel laureate Agnon. The conclusion of the course is an analysis of one of Agnon’s major novels. Having mastered primary reading skills in prose literature, students will be introduced to postmodern literary analysis, misprision, anxiety of influence, and temporal cultural models. The course will be conducted in Hebrew and students are strongly urged to write their essays in Hebrew.

Prerequisites: Permission of instructor.

Halakhic Midrash, the rabbinic continuation of biblical law, is one of the three major literary creations of the Tannaitic period, making it one of the most important sources for Middle Hebrew. Midreshei Halakha are the ancient Jewish biblical interpretations and constitute the earliest and closest reading of the Pentateuch excluding Genesis. A study of terminology and methodology indicates the existence of two midrashic systems: D’vei R. Yishmael and D’vei R. Aqiva. We will examine the scholarly debate concerning the exact time in which midreshei halakha were composed and redacted and concerning the transfer of terminology and material between the schools. In this course we shall study selections from the cultic and purity texts from Leviticus in Sifra or Torat Kohenim and/or from Numbers in Sifrei and Sifrei Zuta. In the course of our study, we shall develop facility with midrashic terminology and midrashic logic. We shall compare the texts in the standard scholarly editions with the manuscripts of those texts, parallel material in other compositions in Middle Hebrew (Mishnah and Tosefta) and the Talmudim. Students will gain facility in reading and creating a critical apparatus. This course will demonstrate the context of ancient Jewish law in matters of purity and cultic practice for students of Hebrew Bible, Dead Sea Scrolls, and Rabbinics.

Prerequisites: Solid knowledge of Hebrew (grade 12 or advanced Hebrew).

Halakhic Midrash, the rabbinic continuation of biblical law, is one of the three major literary creations of the Tannaitic period, making it one of the most important sources for Middle Hebrew. In this course, students will study selections from the legal texts of Exodus in Mekhilta and Mekhilta deRabbi Shimon ben Yohai, and/or from the legal texts of Deuteronomy in Sifrei Devarim. Students will develop facility with midrashic terminology and midrashic logic. They will compare the texts in the standard scholarly editions with the manuscripts of those texts, parallel material in other compositions in Middle Hebrew (Mishnah and Tosefta), and the Talmudim. Students will gain facility in reading and creating a critical apparatus. This course will demonstrate the context of ancient Jewish law for students of Hebrew Bible, Dead Sea Scrolls, and Rabbinics.

Prerequisites: Solid knowledge of Hebrew (grade 12 or advanced Hebrew).

This course is intended to introduce the student to the exegetical methods of the rabbis in their analysis of concepts related to the Divine, man, and the Jewish people. The selections are chosen from the two Talmuds as well as other midrashic and rabbinic literature. Close attention will be paid to the literary forms, organization, language, and technique of this material. The course is conducted in Hebrew; essays to be written in Hebrew. Each student will be expected to conduct a 20‑minute seminar, for which she/he will prepare an outline with questions, for the second term, on a subject to be selected from a list of prepared topics or on a topic from her/his own choosing in consultation with the instructor.

This course is intended to introduce the student to the exegetical methods of the rabbis in their analysis of concepts related to the Divine, to human beings, and to the Jewish people. The selections are chosen from the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds and midrashic and other rabbinic literature. Close attention will be paid to the literary forms, organization, language, and exegetical techniques of this material. The student will be introduced to concepts of philology, text criticism, and redaction criticism, and become acquainted with the manuscript traditions of the primary text analyzed. The shaping and reshaping of these traditions will be explored through a study of textual parallels. The essential modern debates concerning the text under consideration will inform the background of the study as well as methods to help resolve if possible these scholarly conflicts.

This course will examine the interconnections between the various layers of rabbinic literature in terms of theme, sources, hermeneutics, orality, and textual variation. Development of terminology and exegetical methods from the earlier to the later genres of literature will be investigated. Solid knowledge of Hebrew and some background in Aramaic are prerequisites for this course. All textual readings in the seminar course will be in original languages. Students will be introduced to the use of the most important database in rabbinic literature, about Bar Ilan Responsa Project and learn its usefulness in comparing texts.

 

Introduction to the fundamentals of Hebrew grammar and syntax. Emphasis of the development of oral and writing skills, reading and decoding skills and vocabulary.

Introduction to the fundamentals of Hebrew grammar and syntax. Emphasis of the development of oral and writing skills, reading and decoding skills and vocabulary.

This course marks the transition from easy to regular Hebrew. Conversational skills developed by regular participation in class presentations and discussions of current events and cultural issues; reading unadapted texts, simple articles in regular Hebrew; beginning of practical writing on topics discussed in class, writing about personal experiences, writing of structured compositions; completion of syntactic study of main structures; study of the weak verb.

This course offers practice in understanding both spoken word and written Hebrew at a university level. Focuses on: (1) Comprehension: listening to the news, radio and television programs, and lectures in regular Hebrew; (2) Conversation: intensive practice in oral expression to improve proficiency; (3) Reading: texts from various academic fields, the press and literature; (4) Writing: practical writing and the expression of opinions; (5) Grammatical Skills: enhanced perception of the construction of language; broadening of grammatical knowledge.

This course offers practice in understanding both spoken word and written Hebrew at a university level. Focuses on: (1) Comprehension: listening to the news, radio and television programs, and lectures in regular Hebrew; (2) Conversation: intensive practice in oral expression to improve proficiency; (3) Reading: texts from various academic fields, the press and literature; (4) Writing: practical writing and the expression of opinions; (5) Grammatical Skills: enhanced perception of the construction of language; broadening of grammatical knowledge.

This course will examine certain aspects of family law in three religious traditions in our department: Judaism, Zoroastrianism, and Islam. We will review some literature in legal theory in order to test its applicability to religious-based law. Among the issues that we will discuss are marriage repudiation (Judaism and Islam), the time required to wait after being widowed or divorced before remarriage (Judaism and Islam), inheritance law and divorce (Judaism, Islam, and Zoroastrianism). We shall also compare how these religious –legal texts relate to rape, seduction, and issues of incest. Sectarian approaches to these legal issues will be examined, for example, how biblical law is interpreted in Qumran, by the rabbis, and how these topics are addressed by the Four Schools in Islamic law and earlier and later Zoroastrian law.

Prerequisites: Permission of instructor.

The focus of this course is biomedical ethics, Jewish law (halakhah), and reproductive technology. We will examine the Jewish positions as examples of legal-religious models chiefly in reference to posthumous semen donation, artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, and surrogacy. Personal status issues involved for the mother(s), father(s), the fertilized ovum, embryo, fetus, or infant and the role of halakhah, the civil legal system and the state of determining the legal status of all parties are of particular interest. The medical, legal, and ethical ramifications of fertility control and the problem of infertility have been discussed since antiquity. Jewish texts concerning reproductive issues from the Bible through rabbinic literature to the modern era will serve as the basis for this course on Jewish legal literature. We shall test the rabbinic discussions as to their validity in the modern biomedical ethical, legal, and political contexts.

Prerequisites: Permission of instructor.

The topic to be covered is Constructions of Sexes, Genders, and Sexualities in Rabbinic Literature. We shall deal with legal and biological definitions of sex and intersex in classical Jewish writings from the Bible through rabbinic literature, legal codes, and modern Jewish approaches, including biomedical ethics on sex assignment. We shall examine texts dealing with the legal definitions of sex acts and their legal repercussions. Constructions of the very different male and female genders and rabbinic attempts to categorize the gender of an intersex will be studied as well as sexualities (heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, asexuality, and solitary sexuality). We shall attempt to discern trends in their constructions and the impact of crosscultural influences on Jewish approaches to sex, gender, and sexuality.

Prerequisites: Permission of instructor.

A seminar on Phoenician and Punic inscriptions and their relationship to contemporary Judaean literature. Knowledge of biblical Hebrew is supposed. The texts are prepared and presented by the students. Preparation includes grammatical, syntactic, literary, historical, and palaeographical analysis, in the light of the relevant scholarly literature, and with due attention to comparative materials.

A seminar on the language and literature of Ugarit. Knowledge of biblical Hebrew or some other Semitic language is presupposed. The texts are prepared in advance and presented by the students, with attention to grammar and syntax, and with consideration of literary and religious questions, from an historical and comparative point of view, and with reference to all the relevant scholarly literature.

This course will discuss the current state of linguistic research on Biblical Hebrew. Possible topics include (but are not limited to): diachronics, diglossia, dialects, style, prose vs. poetry, narrative vs. reported speech, participant reference. The issues will be contextualized by building the linguistic 

Advanced discussion of phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics of ancient Hebrew. Consideration of the various linguistic methods used to investigate ancient Hebrew. Investigation of the most visible and currently unresolved grammatical issues. For each language issue addressed, selections of texts from ancient Hebrew will be used as a reference point. Weekly Hebrew composition will also be required.

This course will consider the genetic, geographic, and typological features of the major Semitic language branches. Attention will be given to 1) classifications of Semitic languages (genetic and typological); 2) comparison of phoneme and lexical inventories, morphology, and syntax; 3) methods used to reconstruct “proto-Semitic”; 4) causes of language change.

Near Eastern Archaeology (Egyptian, Syro-Palestinian, Mesopotamian, Islamic)

This is an experiential course that asks what it would have been like for people in the ancient Near East as their world underwent the profound changes wrought by domestication, farming, urbanism, and state formation. We focus on the sensory experiences of the body and their effect upon the mind, by reconstructing and using spaces and objects that have come to define the archaeological periods from 10,000 to 2500 BCE. From circular communal buildings and the constraints and possibilities they offer for social interaction, to replastering skulls and making hand-held figurines, to the performance of a ritual text, we link traditional teaching with walking a mile in ancient footwear.

The history of the ancient Near East seems to be marked by the rise and fall of one political power after the other, constant conflict, and cultural change. In the past, population movements were cited as the cause of political collapse at every turn, now it is climatic variations. This class examines what constitutes, and what causes, epochal change. At the same time, it evaluates the different kinds of explanation put forward over recent decades, and assesses their connection to related issues in the modern world. Do the people who live through such change realize it? To what degree does an increasing globalization contribute to conflict? These are critical questions in understanding past and present. Using archaeological and textual sources, we focus on the varied ways Near Eastern societies had of recognizing and addressing these problems.

The Levant (modern day Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria) is one of the most intensively explored archaeological regions in the world. While substantial regionalism exists, the entire area nevertheless constitutes a distinct cultural region with (broadly speaking) more similarities than differences. In addition to reviewing research methods historically employed by archaeologists working in the region, attention will be devoted to exploring new and innovative approaches and methodologies, while focusing on current issues and debates in the field. Emphasis will be on in-depth analysis of archaeological sources (in combination with documentary sources where appropriate), from a broadly anthropological perspective, with the aim of enhancing understanding of the social and economic history of the region. 

The Levant (modern day Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria) is one of the most intensively explored archaeological regions in the world. While substantial regionalism exists, the entire area nevertheless constitutes a distinct cultural region with (broadly speaking) more similarities than differences. In addition to reviewing research methods historically employed by archaeologists working in the region, attention will be devoted to exploring new and innovative approaches and methodologies, while focusing on current issues and debates in the field. Emphasis will be on in-depth analysis of archaeological sources (in combination with documentary sources where appropriate), from a broadly anthropological perspective, with the aim of enhancing understanding of the social and economic history of the region.

The Levant (modern day Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria) is one of the most intensively explored archaeological regions in the world. While substantial regionalism exists, the entire area nevertheless constitutes a distinct cultural region with (broadly speaking) more similarities than differences. In addition to reviewing research methods historically employed by archaeologists working in the region, attention will be devoted to exploring new and innovative approaches and methodologies, while focusing on current issues and debates in the field. Emphasis will be on in-depth analysis of archaeological sources (in combination with documentary sources where appropriate), from a broadly anthropological perspective, with the aim of enhancing understanding of the social and economic history of the region. 

This seminar will examine the archaeology of ancient Egypt from the Predynastic period through the Middle Kingdom, focusing on the archaeological evidence and the contributions that the analysis of that material have made to our understanding of cultural development. Particular emphasis is placed on the theoretical and methodological issues associated with the interpretation of material culture from Egypt. Students will also have access to artifactual material in the collection of the Royal Ontario Museum.

This seminar will examine the archaeology of ancient Egypt from the Predynastic period through the Middle Kingdom, focusing on the archaeological evidence and the contributions that the analysis of that material have made to our understanding of cultural development. Particular emphasis is placed on the theoretical and methodological issues associated with the interpretation of material culture from Egypt. Students will also have access to artifactual material in the collection of the Royal Ontario Museum.

This course will examine methods of classification and analysis (form, fabric, and style) involved in the study of archaeological ceramics, and the use of ceramics to infer patterns of production, distribution, and social organization linking research questions with appropriate analytical techniques.

This course will focus directly on the study of Near Eastern ceramic sequences, with a primary emphasis on assemblages from the region of Syria-Palestine, utilizing the collections of the University of Toronto and the Royal Ontario Museum.

This course will focus on the development of major types of artifactual material from ancient Egypt. Primary emphasis will be placed on the study of ceramic sequences, but other aspects of material culture will also be examined in terms of their development and chronological significance. Analytical methods will also be discussed. Students will have the opportunity to work directly with the Egyptian collection of the Royal Ontario Museum.

The subject of this course is the archaeology of the Nubian cultures from the Middle Stone Age until the end of the Christian Period (ca. A.D. 1300). The study area is the Middle Nile Valley between Aswan and Khartoum, but the relationships with Egypt and other Northeast African cultures are also discussed. Through the use of site and survey reports and the study of artifacts from the Royal Ontario Museum collections the student is expected to acquire in-depth knowledge of the cultures of ancient Nubia. Occasional class presentations and one major research paper are required.

The cultural and social history of the Egyptian Old Kingdom (ca. 2650-2150 B.C.E.) is the main subject of this course. The emphasis will be placed on the study of the archaeological remains, art and architecture of the period known as the pyramid age. Important sites will be examined in detail and artifacts from the Royal Ontario Museum will be studied.

A seminar organized around the study of archaeological remains, and readings on a topic in Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology selected by the instructor. Instructors will vary as will, therefore, the particular topic offered in a given year. Examples of possible topics include warfare in the Ancient Near East, early bureaucratic systems, studied through the discipline of archaeology, among others.

This seminar course allows advanced graduate students the opportunity to investigate in detail the archaeological, iconographic, and artifactual evidence relating to a central issue in the study of ancient Egyptian culture. The subject of the course varies based upon the needs and research interests of current graduate students in the fields of Near Eastern Archaeology and Egyptology, for example: the Egyptian data relating to state formation, urbanism, ethnicity and the archaeological record, regionalism and core/periphery relations, the Deir el-Medina community, foreign relations, etc. The course is offered on an as-needed basis, so interested students are advised to contact the professor directly.

This seminar course allows advanced graduate students the opportunity to investigate in detail the archaeological, iconographic, and artifactual evidence relating to a central issue in the study of ancient Egyptian culture. The subject of the course varies based upon the needs and research interests of current graduate students in the fields of Near Eastern Archaeology and Egyptology, for example: the Egyptian data relating to state formation, urbanism, ethnicity and the archaeological record, regionalism and core/periphery relations, the Deir el-Medina community, foreign relations, etc. The course is offered on an as-needed basis, so interested students are advised to contact the professor directly.

A comprehensive survey class on the archaeology of Mesopotamia (Sumer, Assyria, Babylon) from the Neolithic period to time of Alexander the Great (10,000 – 333 BC). Focuses on the area of modern-day Iraq but also includes western Iran, eastern Syria, and southeastern Turkey.

Uncover the wonders of Syria’s past, from 10,000 year-old burials to the world heritage sites of Palmyra and the Citadel of Aleppo. Explore headless skeletons, royal marriages, desert castles and Roman streetscapes as you learn about a rapidly disappearing cultural heritage. The current war might have halted fieldwork here for the time being, but the results of generations of excavation remain to be properly processed and understood. Learn about discoveries that now might never see the light of day, and find out what you can do to change that.

This course focuses on a comprehensive introduction and discussion of Mesopotamian artwork from the Neolithic to the Iron Age periods (ca. 6000 - 300 B.C.). Following an introduction of major artifact classes (including sculpture, relief, and glyptics), students will learn to describe and catalogue works of Mesopotamian art, allowing them to critically use and evaluate primary and secondary publications. Systematic descriptions and labels for key characteristics such as the object materials, size, iconography, genre, style, and theme will be established to show how meaningful artifact typologies can be constructed. The potential as well as limitations of art-historical approaches for archaeological work, especially for the chronology and interpretation of archeological contexts, will be discussed and examined on selected cases. Several classes will be taught at the Royal Ontario Museum to demonstrate the handling and physical analysis of artifacts.

This seminar will be part two of a course program that focuses on deeper typological analyses of selected archaeological materials in preparation for dissertation research. This class will focus on Mesopotamian architecture, putting an emphasis on the identification of key building types (palaces, temples, fortifications, private houses, and industrial installations) and on their evolution over time. Starting with village architecture of Neolithic cultures (Hassuna, Samarra, Halaf), the class will follow the development of large “cultic” complexes during the Ubaid and Uruk periods. Large palatial buildings, attested during the third, second, and first millennium B.C., will be studied as visual manifestations of consolidated political power. In addition to discussing building materials and construction techniques, particular attention will be paid to distinct artifact assemblages found within architectural spaces, allowing students to undertake comprehensive functional analyses of building units and to appreciate archaeological artifacts within their proper context. Part of this class will be taught at the Royal Ontario Museum, using the Western Asia department’s collection of architectural elements (bricks, foundation stones, façade decorations) and archival holdings of field plans from ROM expeditions to the Middle East.

This course will address models of state formation and social complexity and evaluate their relevance to ancient Near Eastern societies. Topics discussed include family structures, the role of tribes, chiefdoms, bureaucracy, and the impact of irrigation, craft specialization, and trade upon socio-economic complexity. While focusing on the ancient Near East (Mesopotamia, Egypt, Syria, the Levant, Iran, Anatolia), comparative data from other regions (Meso- and South America, Africa, China) as well as from the contemporary Middle East will be consulted where appropriate.

Over the past twenty years, a comprehensive republication of certain key excavations in Mesopotamia, the availability of new dating techniques, and new excavations in Syria and southern Turkey have impacted the chronological framework for early Mesopotamia (Uruk / Late Chalcolithic, Ninevite V, Early Dynastic, and Akkadian periods [4000 – 2200 B.C.]). Based on targeted readings of primary sources and subsequent discussions this class will prepare students to develop a solid chronological framework that is vital for research in Mesopotamian archaeology.

Prerequisites: NMC 363/1423, NMC 364/1424 (or equivalents). Reading knowledge of French and German is essential.

This course is intended to provide students with training in the use of polarized-light microscopy in the examination of ceramics, with some reference to stone, other materials, and microstratigraphy. Starting with classes in elementary optical mineralogy and case studies, the bulk of the training will comprise lab sessions in which typical thin-sections of rocks, pottery, soils and other materials will be studied. Working from standard thin-sections and using a lab manual, students will be taught to recognize the principle minerals and other inclusions (including anthropogenic) found in archaeological ceramics. In consultation with instructor, a research project will be completed that includes analysis of 20 thin-sections. Prior knowledge of geology is not necessary.

The Macedonian conquest of Asia had a profound effect upon the Middle East in terms of administration, city life, and material culture. Yet indigenous ways were not entirely obliterated. A hybrid culture of Greek, Arab, and Persian expressions emerged. These in turn, had a marked effect upon the development of material culture after the beginning of Islam. These principles can be observed in the archaeological record of, amongst other places, Palmyra (Syria), Hatra (Iraq), Seleucia/Ctesiphon (Iraq), Nippur (Iraq), Jund-i Shapur (Iran), and Qal’eh-i Yazdigird (Iran).

This course will use ceramics to study the material culture of the medieval Middle East and the central Islamic lands. As such, they will be running narrative, to which other materials will be referred, or in turn used to refer to other materials. The same motifs found on ceramics may be found in the contemporaneous buildings, textiles or woodwork; the same forms are found in metalwork and glass; illustrations on ceramics will survive better than manuscript paintings, and there are more illustrations of, for instance, medieval swords to be found on pottery than there are actual swords. The course will rely heavily on the collections of the ROM, and provide a thorough grounding on the technical production and typological variability of the various types of materials attested within their archaeological and cultural context. This course offers an excellent opportunity to study this important period of ceramic production, the period of occupation which covers most early sites in the Middle East. It provides essential understanding of the ceramic corpus for anyone seriously considering archaeological research in the Middle East and Mediterranean.

 

This class undertakes original research. Working as a study group, the participants will examine in detail the primary archaeological data for pottery production in the Big Bend region of the Euphrates River during the third millennium BCE. We will also engage with secondary sources on how to think about pottery as a source for understanding ancient societies. Generally pottery studies focus on production, yet most of the pottery retrieved from excavations come from points of consumption and use. The site of Tell Banat offers a rare opportunity to examine the life histories of pottery classes from the collection of the clay to the discard or disposal of the vessel. This will help us understand the choices both potters and consumers make, and how they influence each other. The ultimate goal of the course is to produce a co-authored publishable paper at the end of the semester. In order to qualify for co-authorship you must submit a final assignment of sufficient excellence to be included as part of the paper and you must have fulfilled your obligations to the course. Instructor’s permission required for enrollment.

This is an online synchronous course. Attendance in a weekly discussion class via Blackboard Collaborate/Quercus is required, but all other content is uploaded for you to review prior to the webinar. Audio equipment is required. A camera is highly desirable but not necessary.

Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies

Arabic Studies

This course is designed for students with no prior knowledge of Arabic. It places equal emphasis on the development of all language skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The learning philosophy underlying this approach is that proficiency in a foreign language is best achieved through consistent, deliberate, and systematic practice. From the outset, students are strongly encouraged to develop the habit of consistently practicing learned material.

This is an online, synchronous course. Classes will be livestreamed per the meeting schedule. Students are assigned material to study at their own pace before each scheduled meeting. Students need a webcam and the ability to use Blackboard Collaborate (Ultra).

This course assumes active knowledge of the content covered in NMC2100Y. It places equal emphasis on the development of all language skills. As the course progresses, students are introduced to the fundamentals of Arabic morphology and syntax. This is achieved through analysis of texts covering a wide range of topics. By the end of the course, students are expected to achieve upper intermediate level of proficiency.

This is an online, synchronous course. Classes will be livestreamed per the meeting schedule. Students are assigned material to study at their own pace before each scheduled meeting. Students need a webcam and the ability to use Blackboard Collaborate (Ultra).

This course assumes active knowledge of the content covered in NMC2101Y.  As the course progresses, students are introduced to increasingly complex morphological and syntactic patterns of Arabic. This is achieved through analysis of texts covering a wide range of genres. By the end of the course, students are expected to achieve advanced level of proficiency.

This is an online, synchronous course. Classes will be livestreamed per the meeting schedule. Students are assigned material to study at their own pace before each scheduled meeting. Students need a webcam and the ability to use Blackboard Collaborate (Ultra).

This course assumes active knowledge of the content covered in NMC2102Y.  Its goal is to strengthen the students reading and writing skills, refine their knowledge of syntax and morphological patterns, and enrich their cultural background. This is achieved through analysis of sophisticated authentic texts covering a wide range of genres. In addition, Classical Arabic literary texts will be incrementally introduced.  By the end of the course, students are expected to reach a superior level of proficiency.

This is an online, synchronous course. Classes will be livestreamed per the meeting schedule. Students are assigned material to study at their own pace before each scheduled meeting. Students need a webcam and the ability to use Blackboard Collaborate (Ultra).

One of the most complex figures in classical Arabic literature, al-Jahiz was a polymath who incorporated every field of intellectual inquiry into his own essayistic and compilatory literary form. He has been credited as a foundational prose stylist for the Arabic literary tradition, as well as the first contributor to Arabic literary theory and criticism. In this class, we will examine a variety of his works, from short epistles to excerpts of his longer works. Part of the analytic process will be to reconstruct the polemical context in which these works were written, and thus readings will be selected to illuminate his relationship to contemporary discourses, such as law, theology, Quran interpretation, logic, dialectic, and poetry.

Prerequisites: NML 310Y or NMC 412H or permission of the instructor.

This course examines medieval Arabic discussions of what makes some linguistic utterances better than others. The course is designed to provide non-specialists with context and critical approaches to a curated bibliography of secondary and translated works on medieval Arabic rhetoric. It thus presumes no knowledge of the Arabic language. An Arabic module will be included however, and students who have completed third-year Arabic (NML310/NMC2102) or the equivalent will be expected to participate in the Arabic module.

The first half of the course surveys relevant aspects of the disciplines contributing to the mature Arabic rhetorical tradition (lexicography, theological debates on speech, theories on the origins of language, and Arabic responses to Aristotelianism). The second half of the course covers select topics within the Arabic rhetorical tradition: the relation between idea and expression, aesthetics of metaphor, the distinction between plagiarism and participation in a tradition, and theories of translation in connection to the relative status of different languages, and of revelatory and non-revelatory speech. Throughout, we will ask about the social function performed by rhetoricians, as well as what these theorists can tell us about language politics and the social functions of prose and poetry.

The seminar will provide an introduction to medieval Arabic historical texts, especially chronicles and annalistic literature of the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods. The seminar will be organized around readings from selected texts and discussions concerning the nature and organization of these histories and problems encountered in using them. Students will also be introduced to modern scholarship on the historiography of the period and to the ways in which chronicles and annalistic literature of this period have been used as historical sources.

Prerequisites: Adequate knowledge of Arabic and permission of the instructor.

Biography is one of the, if not the, main form(s) of historical writing in the early and later Islamic Arabic-speaking world. Indeed, it has been said, "biography is the archive of the Muslims." This seminar will provide an introduction to medieval Arabic biographical literature as an historical source. The seminar will be organized around selected readings from a variety of biographical texts including sira, maghazi, stand-alone autobiographical and biographical works, obituaries, and biographical dictionaries. Students will also be introduced to modern scholarship on this genre and to the ways in which this material has been used as an historical source.

Prerequisites: Adequate knowledge of Arabic and permission of the instructor.

The seminar provides an introduction to the use of medieval Arabic administrative and legal documents as historical sources. Copies of original specimens of a variety of types of documentary evidence, preserved in collections in Cairo and Jerusalem, and others preserved in chronicles, scribal, and shurut manuals and including petitions (qissa), decrees (marsum), endowment deeds (waqfiyya), deeds of sale, and purchase, estate inventories, etc. will be sampled. Documents will be read and prepared at home and analyzed in seminar with regard to palaeography, structure, content with a view to their use as a rich source of historical data for Egypt and Syria in the late medieval period.

Prerequisites: Adequate knowledge of Arabic and permission of the instructor.

An introduction to Arabic manuscript studies, including codicology and palaeography, this course centers around hands-on learning, drawing on the collections of the Fischer Library. Students will be exposed to debates in the field, resources, and the variety of questions scholars ask of manuscripts.

This class surveys the rich and varied literary prose tradition in the Arabic language from the Qurʾān to the Mamluk era. These works are frequently referenced in modern Arabic literature, in addition to being beautiful and intellectually challenging in their own right. We will read essayistic epistles, in addition to narrative works of a variety of genres, including biographical compilations, maqāmāt, anecdotes, histories, and fables. All texts are in the original Arabic.

The course focuses equally on developing reading skills and grammatical knowledge specific to classical Arabic texts, and on developing an ability to analyze the themes, literary techniques, generic features, and ideas within those texts.

Prerequisites: NML 310Y or permission of the instructor. Heritage speakers are encouraged to take this class, and should seek permission of the instructor.

In this class, we will read some of the most famous and frequently quoted poems of the pre-modern Arabic literary tradition, drawing from a wide variety of genres and periods. Readings include pre-Islamic poetry, Abu Nuwās, al-Buḥturī, al-Mutanabbī, and Ibn Nubāta, among others. All texts are in the original Arabic.

The course will introduce Arabic prosody, and allow students to develop skills in deciphering difficult verses using available reference material. Strong grammatical knowledge is presupposed. Class discussion focuses on poem structures, historical background, and close reading techniques.

Prerequisites: NML 310Y or NML 412H or permission of the instructor.

This is an online, synchronous course. Class time will be discussion-based. Students need the ability to use Blackboard Collaborate (Ultra). A tablet and stylus will be helpful but is not necessary.

History of the Islamic World and the Modern Middle East

This reading-, speaking-, and writing-intensive course explores the history of the discipline and engages students in ongoing historiographical debates in Near and Middle Eastern Studies. In addition to the emergence of “Oriental Studies” in Europe and North America, students will interrogate the historical connections between the field and other academic disciplines. Particular attention will be paid to the conceptions of time, history, and society, which have played an important role in research and writing on the Middle East. Each student is required to apply the critical approaches and concepts learned in this course to a final historiographical research paper that is directly related to her/his major field of inquiry.

This course examines current theoretical and methodological trends in the anthropological study of the Middle East. The readings will offer students ethnographic insight into the region, introduce them to current research, and acquaint them with the kinds of questions anthropologists ask (and the ones they fail to ask). Possible topics include (post)colonialism, nationalism, gender, violence, history/memory, the politics of archeology, mass mediations, neoliberalism, and questions of ethnographic authority. A central goal of the course is to enable students to think in new, creative, and critical ways about their own research projects.

An introduction to the history of Islamic civilization in the core Islamic regions from the rise of Islam to the fall of the Abbasid Caliphate of Baghdad to the Mongols in 1258. Covering aspects of the religious, political, socio-economic, and cultural history of the formative period of Islamic civilization and focusing on some major themes and issues, this course provides a foundation and framework for further study in Islamic history and essential background for other fields. NMC 2090Y is the graduate section of NMC 273Y. Graduate students attend all of the lectures, and in addition to some shared assignments, are expected to read more widely and to write a major research paper.

A seminar on historiographies of the Arabic-speaking lands of the Middle East and North Africa, 18th-21st centuries. 

A seminar focusing on the Arabic-speaking lands of the Middle East and North Africa, 18th-21st centuries, taking up issues and perspectives related to the instructor’s research interests. 

This course examines the role nineteenth and twentieth-century archaeology played in Middle Eastern politics, the culture of colonialism and in nationalist struggles. The course will first familiarize the students with the diplomatic and intellectual context of the formation of archaeology as a field of study in Europe and analyse the role archaeology played in the production of knowledge about the Middle East. Next, the course will examine the archaeological practices on the ground (and underground) and inquire what happens in the contact zone between European and American archaeologists on the one hand, and local practitioners on the other. Then we will trace the ways in which emergent nationalist discourse challenge, appropriate and imitate the historical narratives of Western archaeology. Finally, the course exposes the students to contemporary debates on cultural heritage in the context of large-scale destructions of archaeological sites in Syria and Iraq in particular.

This course is designed to critically re-examine both the role of intellectuals in the modern Arab world and the political events that shaped their thinking. Through readings of selections of their works (in Arabic and/or in translation) the course introduces some leading thinkers of the Arab renaissance and Muslim revival of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Literary circles and social networks of intellectuals will be examined to shed light on the constitution and socialization of different groups of intellectuals in the late Ottoman and colonial periods. Topics will include secularism, Islamic revival, liberalism, nationalism, gender, cosmopolitanism, and anti-colonialism. Seminar discussions will focus on intellectuals as prisms through which political events and social structures of the modern Middle East are analyzed. Written assignments will be based on interpretations of Arabic texts (English translation optional): autobiographies, novels, essays, newspaper articles, speeches, poems, or lyrics.

This seminar explores competing conceptions of Iranian modernity within a comparative historical framework on “multiple modernities.” While interrogating the modernity debate, it explores themes of the development and transformation of public and private spheres, imaginings of the national body and the body social, the themes of secularism and Islamism, rational and religious subjectivities, sexuality and gender, history and memory, revolution and national refashioning, universality and peculiarity, archotopia and heterotopia, and Self and the Other in Iran. A major theme is the exploration of the temporality and historicity in discussions of Iranian modernity. Each student in this course is expected to write a publishable research paper that addresses a significant aspect of Iranian modernity.

The political, religious, and cultural history of greater Iran from pre-Islamic times to the early modern era. Following an overview of the history of the Sasanian empire, the course traces the progress of the Arab conquests of Iran in the 7th century and surveys the rise of regional Iranian dynasties that contributed to the formation of a new Perso-Islamic cultural identity. From the 11th–15th centuries Iran was dominated politically by Turkic and Turko-Mongolian dynasties, the most significant of which—the Ghaznavids, Saljuqs, Ilkhanids, and Timurids—are examined, including their patronage of Persianate literature and art. Particular attention is devoted to the Safavid polity established in the early 16th century, which represented a watershed in the political and cultural history of Iran due to its adoption of Shi‘ism as the state religion.

This is an online synchronous course delivered per the meeting schedule. Lectures will be given synchronously via BbCollaborate/Quercus. Tutorials will be held synchronously via BbCollaborate/Quercus as a forum for class discussion and review of the week’s lecture.

This seminar is concerned with Persian historical writing and documentary sources for the study of the history and culture of greater Iran during the medieval Islamic period. Selected excerpts from major Persian chronicles and other historical writings will be read and analyzed in their historical contexts. Students will also be introduced to Persian diplomatics, i.e., the study of various types of documents, including correspondence and legal documents, as well as chancery manuals and notarial formularies.

A survey of the Ottoman Empire from its late 13th–early 14th century origins as a border principality through the classical age of Mehmed the Conqueror and Süleyman the Magnificent when, as a mature Islamic empire, it ruled lands in Europe, Asia, and Africa, to the internal and external challenges it faced during the 17th and 18th centuries that forced it to either transform or decline. The course ends with the first attempt at Western-inspired reforms (“New Order”) during the reign of Selim III (1789–1807). Attention is also paid to the immediate predecessors of the Ottomans—the Anatolian Seljuk Sultanate, the Mongols, and the principalities known as beyliks that came into being with the decline of the Seljuks and led to the rise of the Ottomans. Coverage includes topics in Ottoman institutions, economy, society, and culture.

A series of fortnightly seminars in which discussion will focus on pre-selected topics from pre-nineteenth century Ottoman history.

Explores the roles of Turks, Mongols and other primarily pastoral nomadic peoples as raiders, migrants, slave-soldiers, and empire-builders in the ancient and medieval history of Eurasia (Inner and Central Asia, Middle East, Eastern Europe) including the formation of the Islamic world, as well in the configuration of the modern world in general. Topics covered include long-distance economic and cultural contacts (“silk roads”) facilitated by so-called “steppe empires,” Islamization of the Turks in Central Asia, and their gradual takeover of Iranian, Arab, and other lands, the partnership of Turks and Mongols in conquests in Eurasia from China to Ukraine and beyond, and from Siberia to the Middle East. In addition, lifeways (especially pastoral nomadism), economic and cultural interplay between nomadic and sedentary societies, political structures, steppe warfare, and the roles of physical geography and environment. The chronological coverage is from prehistoric (ca. 1000 BC) to early modern times.

Islamic Art and Material Culture

The impact of the Mongol conquest on Islamic art is examined in terms of the division of the Islamic world into eastern and western spheres of culture as well as the increased influence of Chinese arts. Characteristic of the later periods are the classic Persian miniature, elegance in architectural form, and glazed tile decoration, culminating in the spectacle of imperial art in India, Turkey, and Iran.

It is generally recognized that the city formed the focal point for the development of Islamic civilization. Large metropolitan complexes were in fact typical of mediaeval Islam. Using architectural studies, archaeology, and historical sources as the basis of the inquiry, this course will examine the physical and social morphology of the pre-industrial Islamic city. The approach will be an in-depth study of individual cities, ranging from Central Asia to North Africa and Spain, followed by an attempt to draw some general conclusions about the ecology, demographic characteristics, and processes of urbanization of the Islamic city from the 7th to 17th centuries. This course is appropriate for students of mediaeval and Islamic studies, as well as architecture and urban studies. (Offered every three years).

The course traces the development of manuscript illustration in Islamic lands up to the year 1258. In its first part, the question of iconoclasm within Islam will be discussed, as will be the opposing currents of extensive use of figural representation and their intellectual and social contexts.

The second part of the course is dedicated to the specifics of the art of the book. We shall examine the earliest testimonies of manuscript illustration in the Islamic world and their sources in mural painting, mosaics, painted decoration of objects, and translated scientific texts. Then, we shall follow the development of narrative illustration since the 12th century and explore how this changed the relationship between text and image.

The decorative arts from the 7th to the 19th century will be surveyed by medium, in terms of technologies, iconography, style, and patronage. The major media are metalwork and ceramics, but other media, such as glass, wood, stone, jewelry, and lacquer will be covered. Of particular interest will be communication between media, the sharing of decorative ideas, and the changing hierarchy of the decorative arts. We shall also consider the use of these materials in architecture in the form of ceramic tiles, stone and woodcarving. Particular attention will be paid to Islamic themes of decoration, such as geometric and arabesque compositions, as they developed in different regional variations. Use will be made of the Islamic collection in the Royal Ontario Museum.

Islamic Religion and Philosophy

This course is designed to orient students to the field of contemporary Qur’anic studies through reading and discussion of the text itself (in translation) and of significant European-language scholarship about the Qur’an as well as through examination of the principal bibliographical tools for this subject area.

This course is an introduction to the rich literature that has grown around the study of the Qur'an in the Arabic tradition. In addition to readings in the Qur'an students will read selections from works in ma'ani, and majaz; we will then move to the major works in tafsir; selections include material from al-Tabari, al-Tha`labi, al-Zamakhshari, al-Qurtubi, al-Razi, Ibn Taymiyah, and al-Suyuti. The course will culminate in the study of al-Itqan of al-Suyuti. The course will also introduce students to the major reference works that are used for research in this field.

Prerequisites: At least two years of Arabic, or advanced reading knowledge, or the permission of the instructor.

Persian Studies

This course is for students who have minimal or no prior knowledge of Persian focusing on reading, writing and conversation. Students start by learning how to write and pronounce the sound and alphabet, how to connect letters to form basic vocabulary in Persian in order to express basic ideas orally and in writing; then develops students’ language comprehension through expanding their vocabulary and grammar. By the end of the course, students’ skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in Persian improves and they should be able to read, write and translate sentences in Persian at an intermediate level.

This course is an intermediate/advance level of Persian language for students who passed NMC2200Y or demonstrate commensurate Persian skills. The course continues to develop students’ Persian language knowledge by focusing on more complex readings, writings, grammatical structures, translation, Audio/visual, and conversational activities such as group discussion, language games, movie, music, dialogue, and playing role at an advanced level. By the end of this course, students enable to reach the intermediate high/advance level of proficiency in Persian. The course also serves as preparation for courses on classical and contemporary Persian literature.

Survey of Persian literature, mainly modern poetry from 19th-21st centuries focusing on linguistics and literary approaches in modern poetry. The course includes detailed discussion of the influence and effect of western and world poetry on Iranian poets, and critical reflections on works of leading contemporary poets including Nima, Yushij, Ahmad, Shamlu, Forugh, Farrokhzad, Sohrab Sepehri, Mehdi Akhavan Sales.

This interdisciplinary course focuses on the structural development of the Persian language from Old Persian (551 BC) to Modern Persian (7th century) with the emphasis on the word formation and grammar. The course consists of two main parts: The first part focuses on an overview of the Old Persian and Middle Persian languages, their linguistic features and writing system and the factors that changed Old Persian to Middle and then Modern Persian. The second part of the course concentrates on the structural analysis of Iranian languages including Dari, Tajiki, Balochi, Kurdish, Pashto, …. The lecture is based on texts and articles written by theoretical linguists, historians, sociolinguists, descriptive and historical linguists. This course also examines the role of language in maintaining cultural identity and shows the type and the mechanism of the development of Iranian languages in general and of Persian in particular.

This course will survey the language, epigraphy, and political theology found within the imperial inscriptions of the Persian Empire of Achaemenids. (550-330 BCE). The inscriptions will be studied using Prods Oktor Skjærvø’s unpublished primer, An Introduction to Old Persian. The course will involve reading and discussions of the main grammatical categories as well as progressive exercises from actual inscriptions. By the end of the year students will have acquired a strong understanding of the cuneiform script, grammar, and syntax and be able to read the entire inscriptional corpus.

Selected representative readings from the iconic masterpieces of classical heroic and romantic epic poetry, including the Persian national epic, Shahnameh; the magisterial ode of Khaqani on the ruins of a Sasanian palace; and tales from the Khamseh, or Quintet, of Nizami about the star-crossed lovers Laili and Majnun, and the world-conqueror Iskandar, or Alexander the Great. Emphasis is on close reading and analysis of the linguistic and literary content and style of these works, and discussion of their historical and cultural backgrounds. Students will acquire essential skills in the technical requirements of classical Persian poetry, such as prosody, rhyme, and poetic devices.

Selected representative readings from the ethical works of Sa‘di (Bustan and Gulistan); the mystical parable Mantiq al-tayr of ‘Attar and the Masnavi of Rumi; and the ghazals, or mystico-erotic lyrics, of Rumi and Hafiz. Emphasis is on close reading and analysis of the linguistic and literary content and style of these works, and discussion of their historical, cultural, and religious backgrounds. All readings are in the original Persian. Students will acquire essential skills in the technical requirements of classical Persian poetry, such as prosody, rhyme, and poetic devices, as well as an understanding of the key concepts and terminology of Persian Sufism.

The Persian literature of advice on kingship and kingly ethics constitutes an important source for understanding medieval Islamicate political philosophy and concepts of rule and social organization. These works are sometimes referred to as “mirrors for princes,” although they are not consistent in terms of their contents. Excerpts from selected texts dating from the 11th to the 17th centuries will be read and analyzed, including such classics as the Qabusnameh of Kay Ka’us, the Siyar al-muluk of Nizam al-Mulk, and Nasir al-Din Tusi’s Akhlaq-i nasiri.

The course focuses on the Persian treatises (rasa’il), or “visionary tales,” of Shihab al-Din Yahya Suhravardi (d. 1191), known as Shaikh al-Ishraq. It examines the philosophical and cosmological background of his writings, the ancient Iranian mythological motifs they incorporate, and the framework of Islamic Sufism in which they were written.     

The course studies the views on cosmogony and cosmology of the Zoroastrian religion. It focuses on the Zoroastrian doctrines on the origin and history of the cosmos in Zoroastrian sources (the Avesta and the Middle Persian texts) and in texts by non-Zoroastrian authors dating to the pre-Islamic early Islamic periods. It highlights the position of these doctrines in the system of beliefs and practices of the Zoroastrian religion, such as the relation between the spiritual and the material planes of existence, and the function of ritual in the Zoroastrian worldview.

The course studies the pre-Islamic Zoroastrian doctrines on individual and universal eschatology, and the texts describing these doctrines. It principally focuses on the Zoroastrian apocalyptic texts in Middle Persian, which present divine beings disclosing to human recipients the future developments of history, and the structure of the netherworld. The course also compares the Zoroastrian eschatological doctrines with Jewish and Christian eschatological doctrines, and discusses the question of the relationship of Zoroastrian apocalypses with Jewish and Christian apocalypses.

The course studies the relations between the classical (Greek and Roman) world and the pre-Islamic Iranian civilizations. It focuses on the passages of Greek and Latin authors that talk about the culture, history and religion of the ancient Iranians, and on the textual references to the Romans in Iranian sources. It also overviews the iconographic representations of the Iranians coming from the Greek and Hellenistic worlds, and from the Roman Empire, as well as the representations of the Romans in the Sasanian art. Through the analysis of these textual and iconographic sources, the course highlights how the relations between the Graeco-Roman world and the Iranian world were characterized at the same time by a hostile attitude, and at the same time by a deep admiration.

This course investigates the three Persian empires of pre-Islamic Iran, the Achaemenids (559-330 B.C.E.), the Parthians (247 B.C.E. – 224 C.E.) and the Sasanians (224-651 C.E.). On the basis of the primary written and archaeological sources from Persia and the Near East, as well as the classical texts of Greek and Roman writers on Persia, we will discuss the foundation of empire, the king and his court, religion and the ideology of kingship, and the political and social organisation of the empire. Special attention will be paid to the topos of “the Other”, or “the Barbarian”, created by the Greeks in the aftermath of the Greco-Persian wars of 480/79 B.C.E., and continued by the Romans who regarded first the Parthians and then the Sasanians as their main rival and enemy.

This course begins with the Iranian engage literature of the 60s and 70s and follows the writers of this era to exile in various parts of the globe after the 1979 revolution. It goes on to examines the writings of a generation born or brought up outside of Iran, to examine how these writings deal with the conflicts and paradoxes of displacement.

The writers covered in the course range from writers born in Iran to a new generation of poets, writers, and journalists among which women figure prominently. The initiative for the course is the instructor’s article (2003): “Words of Attachment: Literary Antecedents of Expatriate Iranian Women” which explores the evident connection between the language and perceptions of generation of women writers in exile in North America and a well-known poet of Iran who was their contemporary.

The course takes the form of seminar discussions. Materials are in Persian and English. Interested students are asked to contact the Instructor by e-mail prior to registering for the course.

In the course, the evidence for a fresh start of painting in Iran after the Mongol invasion is reviewed, as well as the process of refinement and attrition which followed and which, over the 14th century, resulted in the formation of the classical Persian style of miniature painting. Approaching manuscript illustration of the 14th – 16th centuries, the analysis focuses on programmatic cycles of images, reflection of religious-philosophical ideas, and the impact of the decorative function on the visual aesthetics. In the second part of the course, the separation of the image from the text is discussed as well as the development of new branches of miniature painting in the Persianate cultures of the Ottoman Empire, Central Asia, and Mughal India.

Turkish and Ottoman Studies

This course is designed to provide an introduction to Turkish for learners with no previous experience with this language. A variety of speaking, listening, reading, and writing activities will be included to develop both spoken and written language skills. By the end of the course, students will be able to carry out basic conversations in Turkish in everyday social encounters, have a grasp of the basics of the Turkish grammar and understand elementary texts such as simple excerpts from news articles or literary works. They will also have gained a basic understanding of the cultural contexts in which Turkish is spoken.

Exclusion: Native speakers.

This is an online, synchronous course. Classes will be livestreamed per the meeting schedule. Students are assigned material to study at their own pace before each scheduled meeting. Students need a webcam and the ability to use Blackboard Collaborate (Ultra).

This course is designed for students who have already completed NMC2300Y Introductory Turkish or have an equivalent level of proficiency in Turkish. It aims to expand students’ communicative skills, grammatical knowledge, and vocabulary. A variety of intermediate-level speaking, listening, reading, and writing activities will be included to further develop both spoken and written language skills. By the end of the course, students will be able to read, understand and translate various authentic texts of intermediate difficulty. They will be able to write short essays and talk about a wide range of general topics. They will also have gained a deeper understanding of the cultural contexts in which Turkish is spoken. The course also serves as a preparation for the advanced study of Turkish.

Prerequisites: NMC2300Y or permission of the instructor.

This is an online, synchronous course. Classes will be livestreamed per the meeting schedule. Students are assigned material to study at their own pace before each scheduled meeting. Students need a webcam and the ability to use Blackboard Collaborate (Ultra).

This course is an introduction to the reading and analysis of Ottoman historical texts in the original manuscript—chronicles, gazavatnames, nasihatnames, travel accounts, and epics. Principles of textual criticism are introduced. For each seminar meeting excerpts from original Ottoman manuscripts are assigned for reading and analysis.

This course is an introduction to Ottoman palaeography and diplomatics. The participants are presented with a range of Ottoman documents such as imperial edicts (firman/hükm) and their registrations (mühimme defterleri), diplomas (berat), reports and petitions (‘arz-i hal, ‘arz), vizierial summaries (telhis), memoranda (tezkire), receipts (temmesük), and legal registrations (sicill, hüccet). In addition, there will be samples from various types of registers (defter), for example, surveys of taxable population (tahrir defteri) or records of the financial department (maliye), such as day books (ruznamçe defterleri) and financial edict registry books (ahkam defterleri). For each seminar meeting photocopies of original Ottoman documents will be assigned for reading and analysis.

This course is designed for students who have already completed NMC2301Y Intermediate Turkish or have an equivalent level of proficiency in Turkish. It aims to build upon the existing competence of the students in Turkish and to further improve their four skills through a variety of advanced speaking, listening, reading, and writing activities. By the end of this comprehensive course, students will be able to read, understand and translate various authentic texts of different genres such as literary work. They will be able to write essays on a wide range of topics. They will demonstrate the ability to express themselves both orally and in writing through complex grammatical structures and a rich vocabulary. They will also have gained thorough understanding of the social and cultural contexts in which Turkish is spoken. The course will enable students to pursue further independent studies in Turkish.

Prerequisites: NMC2301Y or permission of the instructor.

This is an online, synchronous course. Classes will be livestreamed per the meeting schedule. Students are assigned material to study at their own pace before each scheduled meeting. Students need a webcam and the ability to use Blackboard Collaborate (Ultra).

This is a seminar course that examines the history and politics of Turkey since 1923. It explores issues such as the Ottoman roots of Turkey’s early leadership, the establishment of the Republic, Ataturk’s reforms and legacy, internal political and social transformations, and the country’s changing geopolitical role. The course also explores some aspects of Turkish literature and culture.

This course is the graduate section of NMC 477H. While the average weekly reading load for the undergraduate version will be about 80 pp., the graduate students will have a load of about 200 pp. They will be expected to prepare a final paper—either a research paper or a literature/bibliography review paper. The length of the paper is to be 25 double-spaced pp. Knowledge of Turkish is not required. However, those who know Turkish and/or Ottoman Turkish and wish to use sources in these languages for their final paper will be encouraged to do so.

Other

NMC 2001 H & Y Directed Reading and Research

No course description available.


RST 9999Y Directed Reading and Research Masters Thesis

Students will work with their Graduate Advisor to develop and conduct a thesis project that will result in a substantive body of original research, and make a significant contribution to knowledge in the field

A number of courses are offered in other departments and by other programs, which may be of interest to NMC students. Should you wish to enroll in a course offered in another department or by another program, please seek permission from your Advisor and the Associate Chair (Graduate) in order to obtain credit toward degree program requirements. Please refer to the host department handbooks and websites for further information.

Table of Cross-Listed Graduate/Undergraduate Courses

The following is a list of graduate courses that have a corresponding undergraduate number, and that may be taught together with the undergraduate course. Please refer to the graduate description of the course.

Graduate Undergraduate
NMC 1001Y NML 305Y
NMC 1002Y NML 405Y
NMC 1010H NMC 449H
NMC 1020H NMC 346H
NMC 1021H NMC 347H
NMC 1022H NMC 446H
NMC 1023H NMC 447H
NMC 1100Y NML 220Y
NMC 1101Y NML 421Y
NMC 1102Y NML 420Y
NMC 1110H NML 320H
NMC 1111Y NML 359Y
NMC 1201Y NML 240Y
NMC 1202Y NML 340Y
NMC 1210H NML 440H
NMC 1213H NML 441H
NMC 1307H NMC 370H
NMC 1316H NML 455H
NMC 1317H NML 456H
NMC 1400H NMC 260H
NMC 1401H NMC 262H
NMC 1411H NMC 465H
NMC 1412H NMC 466H
NMC 1416Y NMC 382Y
NMC 1423H NMC 363H
NMC 1424H NMC 364H
NMC 1425H NMC 491H
NMC 1607H NMC 384H
NMC 1609H NMC 484H
NMC 1613H NMC 380H
NMC 1654H NML 450H
NMC 2080H NMC 472H
NMC 2090Y NMC 273Y
NMC 2100Y NML 110Y
NMC 2101Y NML 210Y
NMC 2102Y NML 310Y
NMC 2103Y NML 410Y
NMC 2130H NML 412H
NMC 2131H NMC 413H
NMC 2172H NMC 476H
NMC 2173H NMC 473H
NMC 2200Y NML 260Y
NMC 2201Y NML 360Y
NMC 2202H NML 461H
NMC 2203H NMC 480H
NMC 2206Y NML 262Y
NMC 2219H NML 467H
NMC 2220H NML 468H
NMC 2225Y NMC 348Y
NMC 2300Y NML 270Y
NMC 2301Y NML 370Y
NMC 2310Y NMC 377Y
NMC 2340Y NML 470Y
NMC 2345Y NMC 274H & 275H
NMC 2501H NMC 394H
NMC 2541Y NMC 469Y
JNE 2320H NMC 477H