MENLO SCHOOL • SINCE 1915

From Caliphs to Coffee: A History of the Pre-Modern Middle East and North Africa (1S)

Biography

What do coffee, algebra, and hospitals have in common? They were all invented and popularized in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). This elective will explore the history of the MENA region from the 7th to the 18th centuries, during which a number of powerful empires prospered, including the Umayyads, Abbasids, Mamluks, Ottomans, Safavids, and Mughals. At the heart of these empires were communities, out of which emerged dynamic ideas, a robust exchange of goods, and a wealth of cultural production. This focus will enrich popular understandings of the postcolonial MENA region, which is largely viewed through the themes of violence and instability. Upon taking the elective, students will sharpen their primary source analysis skills, expand their argumentative writing toolkit, and conduct independent research. Honors students will become experts in the history of the MENA region by reading and presenting selections from additional readings and will consult substantially more sources than non-Honors students in the culminating research projects.

Instructor: Dr. Adil

Note: Honors option available to juniors and seniors.

Prerequisites: Open to juniors and seniors and sophomores if space is available.