June 01, 2010

Saliba, George
[ASCM V2008] Contemporary Islamic Civilization and [ASCM V2003] Introduction to Islamic Civilization

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

Saliba is a good natured, white-bearded little man in a cowboy hat and quite approachable. As a person you will find his humor infectiously endearing (He has a phrase: "Holy Tabouli!"). As a scholar he's, like every other professor at this institution, very remarkable. As a lecturer you will, at at least occasionally, no matter how studious you are throughout, be reduced to 1) surfing Facebook/online poker/Netflicks, 2) doodling on your notebook margins.

All in all if you're humanities-aversive and you want to get your history requirement out of the way either course, IIC/CIC is a good way to go and you inevitably get something out of it. Just go to class (Attendance counts.) Take his notes diligently and read them. I kid you not. From the midterm to the final of CIC I didn't read a half of the assignments. As long as you write what he says on the exams and you're specific and relevant in your evidence, you can get an A-/B+ easily enough.

I thought CIC was more interesting the IIC; it's more up-to-date in the events and probes more questions that have more relevance in the going-ons of the Middle East today. But CIC is structured somewhat less of a history class than IIC; you'll read much about political movements in the Arab World (he tends to focus mostly on the AW, to his chagrin) and literature (he's a big literature buff in both courses). I thought it was interesting to pull from so many different sources, but personally I would've liked to stick to a historical lens. If you want to learn more about Islamic Civ in South or Central Asia or Africa, this isn't really the course.

Disregard him in totality when he says, "Don't pay attention to my notes on the screen." Write them.

Workload:

You'll have to sit a midterm and a final for both courses, 20% and 40% respectively; the remaining 20% is based on your discussion section participation, which is once a week. You may have to present briefly for discussion. Take Kamal for CIC. By the way -- make sure you do sign up for a discussion section; get your place early!

Sometimes you'll have as little as 20 pages a week and as much as 100 and more, but you don't need to read that much as the only thing that really matter are his notes.