It is perhaps not too much of an exaggeration to suggest that there exists no other region, or cultural grouping, in the world today that has undergone such intense scrutiny as that of Middle East and the broader Islamic world. With the recent rise of ISIS, the emergence of the Arab Spring, the ‘Charlie Hebdo’ attacks, and the never-ending conflict in Israel-Palestine there is every reason to believe that worldwide attention on Islam, Arabs and Muslims will continue unabated for several years if not decades. Building on ‘Contemporary Debates about Islam’ this course will continue to tackle some of the controversial social, political, and cultural topics of the day with particular focus on the Middle East. By tackling a range of new and disparate texts, this course will help to develop further the rhetorical and analytical skills that underpin the work of analyzing and making robust academic arguments.
A significant feature of the course will be the focus on in-class writing as well as discussions and debate about written and audio-visual media. Over the duration of the semester, students will complete four major assignments: three persuasive essays, all with an extensive drafting process, and a final oral presentation on the subject matter of Essay 3.
For the first two essays, students will complete a series of progressive low-stakes writing exercises (one due for almost every class) that will provide scaffolding for their final essays. These exercises will help to push students to higher levels of critical thinking and nurture a process of continuous self-appraisal. Taken together, the material from these exercises in addition to in-class and tutorial work will help students complete their essays.
For Essay 3, students will select a topic from the course of their own choosing and write up a 6-8 page essay drawing on all the skills learnt in class.
Overall, the course will provide ample opportunities for discussion, debate and reflection, and help to serve as a venue for students to test out their ideas in public speaking. In so doing, it is hoped the course will help to build a solid foundation of writing and critical thinking skills that will serve students well in their university careers.