Islam, the Middle East, and the West >> Content Detail



This section features instructions for the various papers assigned throughout the course: weekly reaction papers, a short essay, and a final essay. Late papers lose 1 letter grade per day.

Reaction Papers

10% of Final Grade

Unless otherwise noted on the syllabus, you will be expected to submit a 1-2 page reaction paper (typed, double-spaced), on any aspect of the week's reading. There will be no reaction paper for the first week of class or during the weeks in which the essays are due. Reaction papers will receive a check mark (plus/minus). Students are allowed to skip one reaction paper over the course of the semester, but will still be expected to participate in class discussion.

Short Essay

15% of Final Grade

This essay (5-7 p.) of Amin Maalouf's account of the crusades (partially discussed in class) will be due in Ses #9 (week 4). You will be responsible for researching the author, as well as alternative readings of the period and events he describes, while discussing the underlying premises of these historical interpretations. No internet sources allowed.

Rewrite option available and encouraged for papers receiving less than a B (revised papers must be turned in within 1 week of receiving the corrected essay--along with the original).

Short Essay Guidelines

Topic: Amin Maalouf's The Crusades Through Arab Eyes (1982)

This paper should include (in addition to the 5-7 p. essay per se) a cover page (with your name, title of the course, and title of the paper), a proper bibliography (Chicago Manual of Style), and footnotes.

See Chicago/Turabian Documentation; (at the Writing Center of the University of Wisconsin-Madison) for Chicago Manual Style references.

Please make sure to introduce the author and to briefly situate The Crusades within the larger framework of the author's writings, as well as within the broader historical context in which the book was written.

You will pay particular attention to the construction of Amin Maalouf's narrative (sources, structure, style). You will discuss the underlying premises of Maalouf's historical interpretation and his thesis: what does the author emphasize in his portrayal of the course of events? How? What broad historical comment is he making?

Most importantly, explain, with abundant examples, the varied kinds of intellectual, cultural, scientific, and technological exchanges, both in times of conflict and in times of peace, that took place between the local populations and the Crusaders-as the latter became integrated into the region.

Finally, you might want to conclude by discussing how the crusades might have contributed to the fashioning of "East" and "West," "Islam" and "Christianity" in our present understanding of these terms: how does the memory of the crusades serve to articulate present political conflicts and differences between Western Europe and the United States, and Southwest Asia-both in the Middle East (as discussed by Maalouf in his epilogue) and in the West (as might appear in U.S. media and popular discourses).
Be sure, throughout your paper, to provide proper, exact, and ample references to the original text (footnotes and exact quotations).

Final Essay

25% of Final Grade (Paper is 20% and Oral Presentation of the Essay is 5%)

Your final essay (8-10 p.) will be about Tayeb Salih's novel, Season of Migration to the North (1969). A first draft of the essay is due in Ses #30. The final draft is due in Ses #34. No internet sources allowed. Oral presentations of the essay will be delivered during Ses #34, #35, and #36 (you need to sign up in class at the beginning of the semester). Your oral presentation might not exceed 10 minutes. You are encouraged to use visual supports for your presentation.

Final Essay Guidelines

Topic: Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North (1969)

The historian al-Jabarti', in the eighteenth-century, recounted aspects of direct military and political intervention in Egypt. The novel by Tayeb Salih, Season of Migration to the North (1969), deals with a much different facet of European imperialism. Using Edward Said's discussion of “Orientalism” as a platform of discussion, you will analyze the expressions, mechanisms, and instruments of British colonization in the Sudan, as well as its legacies, through the various characters of the novel. You will explain in particular how the central character, Mustafa Sa'eed, might metaphorically embody the “orientalization of the Orient,” which, some critiques argue, is part of the colonial heritage.

Warning! This paper must respect the rules stated in your syllabus. Failure to do so will result in the downgrading of your paper. Accordingly, please use proper and accurate references to A Season of Migration to the North (e.g., with proper footnotes). Papers without appropriate references shall not be accepted.


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