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MPhil in Middle Eastern Studies

Our MPhil is a one-year programme which aims to give graduate students an opportunity to develop their analytical, research and writing skills in preparation for further academic research or entry to professions requiring such skills.

MPhil by dissertation only

At the present time, the majority of students take the MPhil by dissertation-only. This entails working closely with one supervisor throughout the year on a 25,000 word dissertation to be submitted in mid-August. The submission date for 2013 is Friday, 16th August (by 12 noon in the Faculty Office).

During the year, MPhil students attend various training courses offered by the Department in codicology, text reading, and other skills. They are also encouraged to attend fourth year undergraduate lectures and language courses where relevant. They also attend graduate work-in-progress seminars and have an opportunity to present their own work to their peers for feedback in a supportive environment.

One-year taught MPhil

The one-year taught MPhil in Middle Eastern Studies has the following structure:

  • (i) three modules each examined by an examination or a 5000 word course exercise
  • (ii) a 15,000 word dissertation.

Muslim-Jewish Relations

Applicants for this course are expected to have a university qualification in either Hebrew or Arabic.

1. Muslim-Jewish Relations, Foundations

This module introduces students to the analytical tools required for studying Muslim-Jewish relations, primary sources in translation and original language, bibliographical method, objectivity in the study of interfaith relations and controversial themes. Themes may include the Jewish languages of the Islamic world, key historical documents in the study of Muslim-Jewish Relations; Jewish and Muslim thought; Law and Society; the Ottoman Empire, and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

2. Muslim-Jewish Relations, Special Topics

These topics will generally focus on contemporary issues between Muslims and Jews and why these relations are important to understanding the position of religious minorities, faith identity and politics in the Middle East and North Africa. Comparisons will be made to Europe and the United States in order to understand how trends in the region are related to politics and social change elsewhere. Topics may include: Religious Identity and Politics in the Middle East and North Africa; Globalization, Faith and Identity in the Middle East and North Africa, Europe and the United States; Comparative Perspectives on Muslim-Jewish Relations in Middle East and North Africa and Europe; the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the Arab Spring.

3. Cairo Genizah

In this module students are given an introduction to the Genizah manuscripts and its importance for the study of Muslim-Jewish relations in the Middle Ages. Most of the teaching will be based on a selection of Genizah texts in Hebrew or Judaeo-Arabic. These will be read in edited form and also from the original manuscripts in the Taylor-Schechter Genizah collection in Cambridge (www.lib.cam.ac.uk/Taylor-Schechter/Introduction.html)

Persian cultural history

Applicants for this course are expected to have a university qualification in Persian.

This course offers readings in Persian cultural history, identifying persisting trends in Persian literature and cultural production from the medieval period down to modern times. These themes revolve around kingship and the image of the ideal prince, theories of justice and good government, and competing sources of secular and religious authority. Similarly, the motif of love, both earthly and divine, is a common thread running through Persian literature and entails also the extensive use of imagery of the natural world. In the modern world, the course examines a number of issues by studying Iranian cinema and focusing on gender, historical adaptation, nation and approaches to narration and resistance to dominant discourses, reflecting also on how the stories and legends of the classical tradition are adapted for contemporary literature and media.

In discussing these topics, attention is paid to their visual as well as written representation.

1. Medieval Persian texts: History and hagiography

This module introduces some key texts of historical and hagiographical literature, exploring their different literary and narrative approaches to addressing essentially the same purpose, namely establishing the legitimacy and idealised image of both the rulers and the saints who form their subject matter. Poetry plays a large part in the delivery and expression of these topics and the module concentrates on readings that explore the relationship between history, sufism and poetry in Persian culture.

2. Shaping the Ruler in Medieval Persian Belles-Lettres

This module focuses on texts written for princes and monarchs, which are meant to shape the knowledge and morality of the people at the top. Texts picturing the pre-Islamic royal history, Mirror for Princes, didactic prose and poetry… all these participate in informing the understanding and political intelligence of young princes. The course also looks at the practical results achieved during the life time of the monarchs: art historical elements of courtly life and historical events are analysed and discussed.

3. Iranian Cinema: Gender, Adaptation, Nation and Narration

The purpose of this module is to introduce the students to different approaches to analyzing cinematic form and studying culture through films. Each session, therefore, includes watching and discussing a film and reading one or two critical texts that examine different aspects of life and film production in Iran. The key cultural concepts are gender relations, resistance against dominant discourses, historical and intercultural adaptation, nation and nationalism, and cinematic narration.

 

Recent MPhil Students - Research Topics

Mr Robert Cook
Hebrew Liturgical Poetry
Wolfson College
Hebrew Studies
Supervisor: Dr Michael Rand

Ms Magdalen Connolly
Judaeo-Arabic Documents from the Cairo Genizah
Gonville and Caius College
Hebrew Studies
Supervisor: Professor Geoffrey Khan

Mr Charlie Gammell
The Role of Azali Babism in the Constitutional Revolution: A Reappraisal
Pembroke College
Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies (Persian)
Supervisor: Professor Charles Melville

Mr Rupert Horsley
Classical Arabic Hunting Poetry
Wolfson College
Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies (Arabic)
Supervisor: Professor James Montgomery

Miss Mandkhai Lkhaguasuren
The Mongol Khanates in Central Asia in the Fourteenth Century
Murray Edwards College
Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies (Persian)
Supervisor: Professor Charles Melville

Miss Paula Long
Remembering Edward Said: Collective Memory, Counter-Narrative and Identity
Newnham College
Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies (Arabic)
Supervisor: Professor Yasir Suleiman

Mr Chaoqun Lian
The Cairo Language Academy and Arabic Language Management in Egypt
King's College
Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies (Arabic)
Supervisor: Professor Yasir Suleiman

Mr Andrew Mecham
The Jewish Role in Muslim Self-Definition: Classical 'Abbasid Religious Polemic
Pembroke College
Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies (Arabic)
Supervisor: Dr Amira Bennison

Mr Bayan Parvizi
Iran in the Greater Game, 1919 - 1941
Pembroke College
Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies (Turkish)
Supervisor: Dr Kate Fleet

Rafal Stepien
The Mystic Poetry of Attar NeishaSuri
Robinson College
Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies (Persian)
Supervisor: Dr Christine van Ruymbeke

James Weaver
Ibn Rushd's Tahafut Al-Tahafut: Aristotle and the Almohads in a 12th Centrury Philosophical Polemic
Trinity Hall
Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies (Arabic)
Supervisor: Professor James Montgomery

Balqis Al-Karaki
Qur'anic Intertextuality in Selected poems by Mahmoud Drawish
Clare College
Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies (Arabic)
Supervisor: Dr Kate Daniels

Nicholas Lanoie
Antiquity in the Egyptian Literary Imagination: Selected Works of Naguib Mahfouz, 1939 - 1945
Downing College
Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies (Arabic)
Supervisor: Dr Kate Daniels

Nourmamadcho Nourmamadchoev
Political and Social History of Badakhshan up to the end of the 11th century
Pembroke College
Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies (Persian)
Supervisor: Professor Charles Melville

Kate Swearengen
Resistance to French Colonialism in Algeria, 1830-1872
St. John's College
Modern Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies (Arabic)
Supervisor: Dr Amira Bennison

Inclusion on this list is on an entirely voluntary basis. This is not, therefore, a complete listing. Information included above was supplied by the students themselves. Please report errors or problems to the webmaster.