Teacher(s): Julie Shackelford
Since a street vender named Muhamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in late-2010 to protest political and social injustice, becoming a catalyst for the Tunisian Revolution and other uprisings throughout the region, the Middle East has been thrust more directly into the limelight on the global stage. The region is frequently portrayed in the media as unstable marked by perpetual conflict and teeming with “dangerous Muslims,” with news of the Middle East rarely offering more than stereotypical images on well-rehearsed themes of terror and violence. This Folk High School Class seeks to counter that trend by approaching the region in a more nuanced fashion and from a wide range of topics, including (but not limited to): ethnicity, gender, belief, history, geography, popular culture, the media, and everyday life.
In this Folk High School Middle East Culture Class students will find the Middle East to have a rich and complex history and comprised of a diverse multitude of cultures, societies, and beliefs. As such, students will challenge preconceived notions about the Middle East and of those ‘back home’, critically explore the social, political, and historical processes that have contributed to the region as it exists today. While the first half of the term will focus primarily on the historical development of the region (from the rise of Islam until the early Ottoman Period), the second half will center specifically on the modern era.
The Folk High School Middle East Culture Class employs a variety of methods, including: lectures, small- and large-group discussions, in-class documentary and film screenings and other audio-visual media, and independent project work. Students will also have the opportunity to visit the David Collection in Copenhagen to see some of the world’s finest examples of Islamic Art outside the Middle East today.