expands Middle Eastern studies
by a $160,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Boston
College has begun a major project to revamp its Middle Eastern Studies
minor. The new course of study is called the Middle Eastern and
Islamic Studies Program, and it offers an expanded and growing list
of classes in disciplines ranging from history to theology to fine
Faculty from seven humanities and social sciences departments have
been involved in the planning, which began several years ago. New
elements of the program include a language component; courses on
the Islamic world beyond the Middle East; and a series of seminars
for freshmen that will explore aspects of Islamic culture in depth.
The program will also sponsor a lecture series open to the University
Courses in Arabic debuted in the fall, with more than 40 students
registering for the introductory class—enough to warrant an additional
section. An intermediate-level course will be offered next year
for students who wish to continue.
Starting in the spring and continuing next fall, several new classes
in Islamic culture will be offered. Project codirectors Ali Banuazizi,
a professor of psychology, and Benjamin Braude, a professor of history,
led a faculty development committee that helped design the curricula.
Among the new courses are “Islamic Political Philosophy,”
taught by political science professor Nasser Behnegar; “Muslim
Women’s Writing,” taught by associate professor of English
Kalpana Seshadri-Crooks; “Good and Evil in Islam, Christianity,
and Judaism,” taught by honors professor Marty Cohen; and
“Islam in South Asia,” cotaught by history professor
Prasannan Parthasarathi and theologian Qamar-ul Huda.
Jonathan Bloom, coholder (with wife Sheila Blair) of the Norma Jean
Calderwood University Professorship in Islamic and Asian Art, inaugurated
the freshman seminar series in September with “Jerusalem.” The class
(one of four freshman seminars planned) explored the art and religious
and political history of the Holy City, from the perspectives of
Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.
Photo: Psychologist Ali Banuazizi (left) and historian Benjamin
Braude. By Lee Pellegrini