James A. Reilly

Professor Emeritus of Modern Middle East History
Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, 4 Bancroft Avenue, Toronto, ON, M5S 1C1


Fields of Study

Areas of Interest

  • Historiography
  • Syria 
  • Lebanon
  • Ottoman Empire
  • Arab World


I was a professor of modern Middle East history at the University of Toronto from 1987 to 2022. In teaching, articles and publications I worked to connect the past with the present, and to examine how memories, events and structures of the past inform and affect the present day. My interests encompass the experiences of elites and commoners, of men and women, and of people from varied faiths and walks of life. My research language is Arabic, so most of my courses dealt with the Arab Middle East. Earlier in my publishing career I focused on social and economic history, and afterward on historiography as well. I studied in Washington DC and Beirut, and I conducted PhD and postdoctoral research in Damascus. My special interest is the Ottoman-era history of Lebanon, Syria and Palestine, and their peoples’ experiences of early modernity.


PhD, Georgetown University