Department of Near Eastern Studies
- Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi
- M. Sükrü Hanioglu (acting) (fall)
Director of Undergraduate Studies
- Eve Krakowski
Director of Graduate Studies
- Marina Rustow
- Michael A. Cook
- Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi
- M. Sükrü Hanioglu
- Bernard A. Haykel
- Hossein Modarressi
- Marina Rustow
- Muhammad Q. Zaman
- Jonathan M. Gribetz
- Lara Harb
- Eve Krakowski
- Michael A. Reynolds
- Max D. Weiss
- Satyel Larson
- Daniel J. Sheffield
- Patricia Blessing, Art and Archaeology
- Molly Greene, History
- Amaney A. Jamal, Politics
- Lital Levy, Comparative Literature
- Shaun E. Marmon, Religion
- Sabine Schmidtke, Near Eastern Studies
- Jack B. Tannous, History
- Gregory J. Bell
- Nancy A. Coffin
- Nilüfer Hatemi
- Philip Hollander
- Varak Ketsamanian
- Amineh Mahallati
- Mounia Mnouer
- Ali G. Siddiqui
- Faris Zwirahn
Visiting Lecturer with Rank of Professor
- Sabine Schmidtke
The Department of Near Eastern Studies offers a liberal arts major designed to give students competence in a Near Eastern language and broad knowledge of the literatures, civilizations, politics, and history of the late ancient, medieval, and modern Near East (comprising Afghanistan, the Arab countries, Central Asia, Iran, Israel, Islamic Africa, South Asia, and Turkey). Accordingly, a plan of study is built around departmental and cognate courses in history, literature, religion, law, anthropology, politics, economics, and public policy, combined with the study of one or more Near Eastern languages (Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, or Turkish), determined by the student's interest. In addition to serving as the focal point of a broad liberal arts education, the Near Eastern studies major can be the basis for graduate or professional study in a range of fields in the humanities and social sciences. The department's many small classes and seminars allow extensive student/teacher interaction and equip students to pursue careers in business, finance, economics, international affairs, government, diplomacy, journalism, and public policy.
Information and Departmental Plan of Study
Departmental majors achieve a broad understanding of the varieties of regions, cultures, and religions of the Near East in the more distant past as well as in the modern period. Students gain the tools of the multiple disciplines employed by scholars of Near Eastern studies. The department’s curricular guidelines help ensure that students reach these objectives while also giving them significant flexibility to forge their own educational paths in the department.
Advanced placement is available in all of the languages offered by the department. Students seeking advanced placement in Arabic should follow the procedures for online language placement testing on Canvas. Students seeking advanced placement in Persian or Turkish should consult the director of undergraduate studies to arrange for testing with the appropriate language instructor. Students seeking advanced placement in Hebrew should follow the procedures for online language placement testing on Canvas. A student with a Hebrew subject test score of 760 or a high score on the departmental Hebrew placement examination week will be considered to have satisfied the A.B. language requirement and to be eligible for placement in a 300-level course.
A student who has completed at least one course in the department is eligible to major in Near Eastern studies. This course may be a language class or a course or seminar offered in any of the disciplines covered by the department.
Students who meet the prerequisite for entrance into the department may be admitted to begin in the second term of sophomore year.
Students take eight departmental courses in Near Eastern studies. Up to three of these courses may be from cognate departments, upon approval of the director of undergraduate studies.
Language courses beyond the second year count as departmentals, courses in a second Near Eastern language at any level (including introductory) may likewise count as departmentals.
All students are required to take NES 300 (Seminar in Research Methods) in junior year unless they are studying abroad that semester, in which case they are required to take NES 300 in their senior year.
The remaining seven courses must satisfy the following chronological, regional, and disciplinary distribution requirements:
- Historical Periods: Students must take at least one course that focuses on the premodern Near East and at least one course that focuses on the modern Near East.
- Regions: Students must take two regionally specific courses, with each of the two courses focusing on a different one of the following six subregions of the Near East:
Egypt, North Africa, and Andalusia
The Levant, Iraq, and the Arabian Peninsula
Muslim South and Central Asia
3. Disciplines: Students must take at least one course in two of the following four disciplines:
A single course may satisfy multiple distribution requirements across these domains (historical periods, regions, and disciplines). For example, a course focusing on 20th-century Turkish literature may count as modern (historical periods), Ottoman Empire/Turkey (regions), and literature (disciplines).
A single course may not, however, satisfy more than one distribution requirement within a single domain; thus a course on Arabic literature that spans the premodern and modern periods would not satisfy both the premodern and modern historical periods requirements.
Students who wish to undertake a plan of study that does not meet these guidelines must apply for a waiver from the undergraduate committee. Waivers will be granted only in exceptional cases.
Students must complete four semesters (i.e., through 107 level) of Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, or Turkish. Students are advised to begin their language training as early as possible, and are encouraged, albeit not required, to continue language study at the advanced level and to utilize their chosen Near Eastern language for senior thesis research. The necessary language training for the A.B. degree can be acquired through a combination of language study at Princeton, intensive summer language study, and study abroad programs. The department will help each undergraduate major develop a language training schedule appropriate to their planned course of study.
Students write one junior paper over the course of the junior year in consultation with a member of the faculty. Students submit a proposal (including an outline and an annotated bibliography) for their junior independent work in the fall semester and a completed junior paper in the spring semester. Students are encouraged to visit the websites for NES Junior Independent Work Guidelines and important deadlines for the Junior Paper.
Each student prepares a senior thesis in consultation with a member of the faculty. Students are encouraged to visit the websites for NES Senior Thesis Guidelines and important deadlines for the senior thesis.
The choice of junior paper and senior thesis topics must be approved by the student's adviser.
Certificate in Language and Culture
The Department of Near Eastern Studies offers students the opportunity to earn a certificate in one of the area's languages and cultures while majoring in another department.
Certificate Requirements: The certificate is open to undergraduates in all departments. Students should consult the director of undergraduate studies by the end of sophomore year to plan a program of study. Ordinarily, students majoring in language and literature departments, including comparative literature, will be eligible for the certificate in language and culture provided that: (a) the linguistic base for the language and culture certificate is different from the linguistic base of the major; and (b) the work required for the language and culture certificate does not duplicate the requirements of the major. Students pursuing area studies certificates may earn the certificate in language and culture provided that: (a) the courses they elect to satisfy the requirements of the area studies program are different from those they elect to satisfy the requirements of the language and culture certificate program; and (b) they submit a piece of independent work in addition to the independent work that satisfies the requirements of the area studies program and the home department. The requirements for work done in the Department of Near Eastern Studies are:
- Studying one of the languages taught in the department—Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish—beyond the level required for completion of the University language requirement
- Completing at least three departmental courses at the 300-level or higher in language, literature, or culture that involve extensive use of the designated language
- Completing a piece of independent work that makes substantive use of a Near Eastern language. Most often this is a substantial research paper (approximately 7,000 words) written under the supervision of a member of the department
In addition to 300- and 400-level language courses, any graduate courses open to qualified undergraduates may be used to satisfy the departmental requirements above with the permission of the director of undergraduate studies.
Finally, a course (including courses on literature in translation) in which the student arranges with the instructor to do substantial reading in their designated language may also count toward the certificate in language and culture. This must be arranged on a case-by-case basis with the instructor involved.
Any questions regarding the certificate in language and culture should be addressed to the director of undergraduate studies.