September 04, 2001

Massad, Joseph
[ASCM V2008] Contemporary Islamic Civilization

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

He might as well have cut through the bullshit and titled the class "Contemporary Egyptian Civ", because we didn't get exposure to any other culture within the class. The reading is interesting, mostly, particularly the literature. Like the Intro to Islamic Civ class, however, it is all heavily biased. The professor (and, shockingly, many of the students) tend to turn discussion sections into "us vs. them" blame game, where they list the west's various cultural crimes ad nauseum... not that it's not justified, but it's not really productive or interesting; if you're in this class, chances are you already know Europe and the US suck. It's a lecture course, but in an effort to make it a discussion class, Massad arbitrarily picks on people to answer questions that come out of the blue. If they aren't answered satisfactorily, he tends to just let the subject drop instead of elaborating or correcting. There's no context; one never gets a timeline of Egyptian history or politics, and so it's easy to forget which work is a commentary on which leader or movement. The spring 2001 class was blessed with TAs who made it all worthwhile, but all in all, there are better courses in the MEALAC dept.

Workload:

2 papers and a final. Paper topics were rigid and dull, and Massad refuses to let students design their own topics. The final's a piece of cake if you've read things.