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Organization, Regulations, and Courses 2023-24

MES 15.11 The Middle East in Film: Picturing the Past and Present

How may films serve as a starting point for revisiting the past and rethinking the present? In what ways may representations of the Middle East differ over time and across places? And why do the stories told by filmmakers in documentaries, historical dramas, and other cinematic productions matter? Movies depicting the Middle East routinely draw mass audiences and consequently shape popular perceptions of the region the world over. The very same films, however, are all too often understood by many people as mere entertainment. In this class, we will consider what movies, if treated critically, may teach us about Middle East history. Beginning with a brief introduction to film and media studies, we will contemplate where the Middle East fits into this field of inquiry. Once establishing how we will approach movies and the Middle East throughout the term, we will navigate a number of key themes together, from war, memory, and migration to (mis)information, revolution, and representation. Along the way, we will watch everything from indie films to big budget blockbusters. Regardless of the exact form these projects assume, all of the pictures we explore will generate debate and discussion around the past and present. Among the topics we will cover are the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, European colonialism, and America’s legacy in the Arab world. To assist us on this journey across the Middle East and well beyond its boundaries, we will engage several primary sources, with motion pictures at the forefront. These thought-provoking items will empower us to partake in conversations that traverse languages, national borders, historical eras, and artistic genres, enabling us to view the Middle East in an entirely new way.



Cross Listed Courses

FILM 42.19 JWST 44.01

Degree Requirement Attributes

Dist:ART; WCult:NW

The Timetable of Class Meetings contains the most up-to-date information about a course. It includes not only the meeting time and instructor, but also its official distributive and/or world culture designation. This information supersedes any information you may see elsewhere, to include what may appear in this ORC/Catalog or on a department/program website. Note that course attributes may change term to term therefore those in effect are those (only) during the term in which you enroll in the course.


  • Fall