2013–2014

MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES

For a complete statement of regulations regarding graduate work in Middle Eastern studies, candidates should refer to “Degree Programs in Middle Eastern Studies” in the Programs in the Social Sciences and Programs in the Humanities. An offprint of “Degree Programs in Middle Eastern History” is available from the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

Master of Arts (AM) in Regional Studies–Middle East

Course Requirements

  • A terminal AM degree is administered by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. The program for this degree requires two years of study: eight half-courses each year making a total of sixteen half-courses.
  • First year required courses: a year-long course in a modern Middle Eastern language, NES 200A “Approaches to Middle Eastern Studies,” NES 200B “Middle East Research Seminar” (for those choosing to write a thesis); and four other elective courses.
  • Second year required courses: a year-long course continuing the selected Middle Eastern language; MES 299B Master’s Thesis Reading and Research (for those completing a thesis); and five other elective courses. Electives must include: two seminars, one in a Middle Eastern field and one elective; two history courses, one in medieval (600-1500) and one in modern Middle Eastern history; and one course related to the Middle East in anthropology, economics, history of art and architecture, government, law, or religion.
  • Optional Master’s Thesis

    Students enrolled in the AM program may choose to write a master’s thesis, but a thesis is not required to complete the degree; those considering further graduate study are strongly encouraged to write a master’s thesis. All students who plan to write a masters thesis must take NEC 200b-Middle East Research Seminar in the spring semester of their first year of the program. In this course, students will conceptualize a topic, conduct initial bibliographic research, develop a hypothesis, and produce a formal thesis proposal.

    The thesis proposal will then be used to recruit a thesis director, a faculty member or Harvard PhD student whose research interests coincide with the proposed thesis. Students are responsible for securing the commitment of a thesis director by the end of the spring semester of the first year. The thesis director will meet with the student at regular intervals during the second year to ensure progress on the thesis. (Harvard faculty who serve as thesis directors may choose to supervise a 300-level reading and research course as a means of thesis supervision). In the final semester, students writing a masters thesis are expected to enroll in MES 299b, Master’s Thesis Reading and Research. The thesis is expected to be an independent piece of scholarly work and may not be submitted for an additional course.

    Language Requirements

    All students in the AM program are expected to take two years of one of the major languages of the Middle East: Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, or Turkish. Students who are native speakers of one of these languages will be required to study a second.

    Grade Requirements

    In compliance with the policy of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

    Residence Requirements

    Students should comply with the GSAS policy.

    Policy on Incompletes

    Students should comply with the GSAS policy.

    Advising

    The director of the AM Program acts as the main advisor for all AM students. Other faculty take on an advising role for the AM thesis.

    Programs for the Joint PhD

    A joint PhD is offered with the following departments: anthropology, history of art and architecture, and history. The fields covered differ according to requirements of the respective Harvard departments.

    Teaching

    Students in their third and fourth years have priority for teaching fellowship awards. Normally, graduate students find teaching fellowships in their joint department. Students are usually not permitted to teach until after they have passed general examinations. Students who are fluent in speaking, reading, and writing one of the modern Middle Eastern languages may be eligible to teach introductory and intermediate courses in that language.

    First-time teaching fellows must participate in the Bok Center teaching orientations.

    Advising

    Advisors take an active role in helping plan the student’s program of study and in directing the student’s research and dissertation preparation.

    At the beginning of their first year, students enrolled in the joint PhD programs (anthropology, history of art and architecture, history) must choose an advisor, by mutual consent, from among several Middle East faculty whose research interests are congruent with those of the student. The director of graduate studies will have primary responsibility for monitoring the student’s progress toward completion of the PhD requirements.

    The progress of all graduate students is reviewed at the end of each year.

    ANTHROPOLOGY AND MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES

    The student will fulfill all the requirements for the PhD in social anthropology. In addition, the student will also fulfill the following language and area requirements of the Committee on Middle Eastern Studies:

    Language Requirements

    Each student must demonstrate a reading knowledge of one of the following European languages: German, French, Italian, or Russian. This requirement may be fulfilled either by a departmental examination or by satisfactory completion of two years of language study. The student must also demonstrate a thorough knowledge of a modern Middle Eastern language: Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, or Turkish. Depending on the student’s specialization, another Middle Eastern or Islamic language (e.g., Kurdish, Bahasa Indonesia, Urdu) may be substituted with the approval of the Committee on Joint PhD Programs.

    “Thorough knowledge” would normally translate into a minimum of four years of language study with a final grade of B- or above. Native speakers of these languages will be required to master a second Middle Eastern language. A written examination in the Middle Eastern language selected will be administered by the Committee on Middle Eastern Studies and must also be taken before the completion of coursework. Students are strongly encouraged to master at least one additional Middle Eastern language. The expectation is that the student will learn the languages necessary to teach and work in his or her chosen field.

    Course Requirements

    The student will take at least three half-courses in Middle Eastern history, economics, religion, or political science.

    Other fields of study from related areas may be approved to meet this requirement by petition to the committee.

    Dissertation

    The dissertation will normally be based on fieldwork conducted in the Middle East, or in other areas of the world with close cultural ties to the region. The dissertation should demonstrate the student’s ability to use source material in one or more relevant Middle Eastern languages.

    HISTORY OF ART AND ARCHITECTURE AND MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES

    The student will fulfill the requirements for the PhD in history of art and architecture, in consultation with his or her advisor. In addition, the student will also fulfill the following language and area requirements of the Committee on Middle Eastern Studies.

    Language Requirements

    Each student must demonstrate a reading knowledge of English and a European language: usually French and/or German. This requirement must be fulfilled by a departmental examination.

    The student must also demonstrate a thorough knowledge of a Middle Eastern language: Arabic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish, or another appropriate ancient Near Eastern language. “Thorough knowledge” would normally translate into a minimum of four years of language study with a final grade of B- or above. Native speakers of these languages will be required to master a second Middle Eastern language. This mastery is confirmed in the language part of the General Examination. Students are strongly encouraged to master at least one additional Middle Eastern language. The expectation is that the student will learn the languages necessary to teach and work in his or her chosen field.

    Course Requirements

    In addition to the work in Near Eastern art and architecture, the student must take at least one half-course and one seminar in some other period of art history, and at least one-half course and one seminar in some other aspect of Middle Eastern studies. Classes should be chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor.

    General Examinations

    The student will be expected to take a general examination of four parts: two in Near Eastern art (either different periods or different techniques, the scope being determined by the student’s committee), one in another period of the history of art and in Near Eastern studies, and a language examination in Arabic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish, or an ancient Near Eastern language consisting of a translation (with dictionary) of one or two passages from a list of sources provided at least a year before the examination, and of a commentary. One of the examinations (other than language) could be oral.

    HISTORY AND MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES

    Fields of Study

    As soon as possible after entering the program, and no later than the end of the first year, the student should select an advisor (who must be a member of the history department) in consultation with whom four fields of study will be chosen for presentation at the general (oral) examination. This selection of fields is to be set down in written form and signed by the advisor. This plan will also state the student’s choice of courses and language examinations during the first two years. A student wishing subsequently to propose changes in this study plan must do so in the form of a written petition to the advisor. (Note: No student may proceed to the general examination who has not satisfied all language and seminar requirements as listed below.)

    Language Requirements

    Before taking the General Examinations, students must pass the history department’s language exam in one of the following: French, German, Russian or Italian.

    Students are expected to develop Middle Eastern language skills (in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian or Turkish) that will enable them to work at the highest levels of scholarship and teaching in their chosen field. Depending upon the student’s specialization, another Middle Eastern-related language may be substituted with the approval of the Committee on Joint PhD Programs. Native speakers of these languages will be required to master a second Middle Eastern language.

    Proficiency in the Middle Eastern language is tested by a language professor in the fourth field of the General Examination, a single written examination of two parts. The minimum level of mastery expected can usually be achieved with four full years of language study.

    Course Requirements

    At least two half-courses of seminar work are required with a letter grade: one in Middle Eastern history and one in Western history, not to be taken in the same term. Upon petition to the Joint PhD Subcommittee of the Committee on Middle Eastern Studies, a student may substitute a seminar on African or East Asian history for Western history. The seminars must be completed before the general examinations can be taken. In addition, the candidate must complete the course “The Practice of History” in the fall term of his or her first full year of residence with a grade of satisfactory.

    General Examinations

    Examination is in four fields. One must be in Western history, and two in Middle Eastern history. The three established fields in Middle Eastern history are medieval Islamic history, Ottoman history, and modern Middle Eastern history.

    Students who wish to offer another Middle Eastern-related field (for example, Byzantine history) in place of one of the established Middle Eastern fields should petition the committee for permission. The Department of History’s chronological requirements for historical fields do not apply to the fields submitted for the joint program.

    Examination is in four fields. One must be in Western history, two in Middle Eastern history, and one in a Middle Eastern language. The three established fields in Middle Eastern history are medieval Islamic history, Ottoman history, and modern Middle Eastern history. Students who wish to offer another Middle Eastern-related field (for example, Byzantine history) in place of one of the established Middle Eastern fields should petition the committee for permission. The Department of History’s chronological requirements for historical fields do not apply to the fields submitted for the joint program.

    The fourth field is examined separately from the three historical fields. The examination consists of a two-hour translation into English of two passages. One of these passages is drawn from a fifty-page selection of a representative source in the student’s field, chosen by the student; the second is an unseen passage from an academic text. One dictionary is allowed. The exam is supervised by the student’s advisor and administered by a professor who teaches the student’s primary Middle Eastern language of study. Native speakers of these languages will be examined in a second Middle Eastern language. The fourth field examination must be taken no later than a year after the examination in the first three fields, that is, by the end of the fourth year at the latest. The examination is offered twice annually, in May and December, or by agreement with the language professor.

    A student who has failed the general examination may be allowed to take the examination a second time, within one year, if the examiners so recommend to the director of graduate studies.

    Prospectus

    The dissertation prospectus must be completed and approved within one year of passing the generals. It must be written in conformity with Department of History guidelines, as detailed in the History Department Graduate Student Handbook.

    The student should ask his or her dissertation advisor and two other members of the faculty to form a prospectus committee. The members of this committee will read drafts of the prospectus and make suggestions.

    The finished prospectus should be submitted for approval to the Joint PhD Commit-tee in five copies, one for each member of said committee. It must be approved individually by the three members of the committee concerned directly with Middle Eastern Studies: Professors Kafadar, Mottahedeh, and Owen.

    If changes in the dissertation structure as outlined in the prospectus become necessary at some later point in time, the student should petition the Joint PhD Committee for approval.

    Dissertation

    The dissertation must be read and approved by a three-member dissertation committee, two of whom are normally permanent members of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences faculty. One of the three must be a member of the Department of History (normally the student’s advisor). Any one of the three may take primary responsibility for supervision of the dissertation, but students are encouraged to consult all in the course of their work. In the event of disagreement, the definitive decision rests with the history reader and the Joint PhD Subcommittee on Middle Eastern Studies.

    The final manuscript should conform to the requirements described in The Form of the PhD Dissertation.

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