November 14, 2009

Saliba, George
[ASCM V2008] Contemporary Islamic Civilization

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

This class is a fantastic way to fulfill the Major Cultures requirement... in fact, it's a great class for anyone who likes having a high gpa, not doing a ton of work, and reading some relatively interesting material relating to the problems and debates in the twentieth century Islamic World. Professor Saliba's lectures are relatively boring and after the first few that give a broad overview of key issues (useful for the midterm) they are basically a summary of the readings. There is really no point in going to class after the midterm except to sign the attendance sheet (annoying) because the grading is based on discussion section attendance/participation, the midterm, and a final paper (that's right, no final exam!!). Therefore, once you figure out your paper topic, my recommended strategy is to come to class with no books, sign the attendance sheet, and walk out five minutes later pretending to go to the bathroom (that was what I did most of the time post midterm and I aced the class).
Do not take this class if you desire an intellectually honest debate on Israeli-Palestinian issues. I'm relatively pro-Palestinian but even I was offended by Saliba's obscene bias whenever the topic came up, though from what I hear his views are pretty standard for his department. I felt bad for some of the Jewish kids in that class. Look for opportunities to shamelessly trash Israel in your midterm essays; don't bother being subtle.

Workload:

3 hours or so of reading a week, definitely do not need to do all of it. 2 novels are assigned but nobody reads them. Weekly discussion section postings, midterm, final paper on a topic of one's choice. Pretty easy for a 4 point class. Generous curve giving around 40+% of the class A- or better.