Faculty Profile

David Commins

Professor of History; Benjamin Rush Chair in the Liberal Arts and Sciences (1987)

Contact Information

commins@dickinson.edu

Denny Hall Room 205

Bio

His teaching interests are in modern Middle Eastern history with an emphasis on Islamic thought and political movements. His most recent book is Islam in Saudi Arabia. His other books are The Gulf States: A Modern History, The Wahhabi Mission and Saudi Arabia, Historical Dictionary of Syria, and Islamic Reform.

Education

  • B.A., University of California at Berkeley, 1976
  • Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1985

2018-2019 Academic Year

Fall 2018

MEST 121 Middle East to 1750
Cross-listed with HIST 121-01.

HIST 121 Middle East to 1750
Cross-listed with MEST 121-01.

MEST 200 U.S. - Middle East Relations
Cross-listed with HIST 215-01 and INST 290-01. This course examines the history of US-Middle East relations from the Barbary Wars to the present. Topics will include American travel and missionary activity in “the Holy Land” during the 1800s; the American role in post-World War I diplomacy affecting the Middle East; rivalry with the Soviet Union; Arab-Israeli diplomacy; petroleum policy; anti-American terrorism; and military interventions.

MEST 200 Mod N Afr/Fren Inv to Arab Spr
Cross-listed with AFST 220-01 and HIST 215-03. In spite of its unique geographic position as a trade hub and a bridge between the cultures of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, North Africa (the “Maghreb”) has long been overlooked in narratives of world history. From the establishment of French colonialism to the Arab Spring, the centralization of power and the power of revolt have played critical roles in defining the cultures, politics, and histories of the modern Maghreb. Using “authority” and “resistance” as organizing themes, this course explores the complex issues of multiculturalism, nationalism, and state-society relations in this dynamic region.

HIST 215 U.S. - Middle East Relations
Cross-listed with INST 290-01 and MEST 200-01. This course examines the history of US-Middle East relations from the Barbary Wars to the present. Topics will include American travel and missionary activity in “the Holy Land” during the 1800s; the American role in post-World War I diplomacy affecting the Middle East; rivalry with the Soviet Union; Arab-Israeli diplomacy; petroleum policy; anti-American terrorism; and military interventions.

INST 290 U.S. - Middle East Relations
Cross-listed with HIST 215-01 and MEST 200-01. This course examines the history of US-Middle East relations from the Barbary Wars to the present. Topics will include American travel and missionary activity in “the Holy Land” during the 1800s; the American role in post-World War I diplomacy affecting the Middle East; rivalry with the Soviet Union; Arab-Israeli diplomacy; petroleum policy; anti-American terrorism; and military interventions.

Spring 2019

HIST 122 Middle East since 1750
Cross-listed with MEST 122-01.

MEST 122 Middle East since 1750
Cross-listed with HIST 122-01.

MEST 200 Modern Iran
Cross-listed with HIST 315-02. This course examines Iran's history from 1500 to the present, with an emphasis on political and religious developments under the Safavid, Qajar and Pahlavi dynasties, and the Islamic Republic.

HIST 204 Intro Historical Methodology
Local archives and libraries serve as laboratories for this project-oriented seminar that introduces beginning majors to the nature of history as a discipline, historical research techniques, varied forms of historical evidence and the ways in which historians interpret them, and the conventions of historical writing. Prerequisite: one previous course in history.

HIST 315 Modern Iran
Cross-listed with MEST 200-01. This course examines Iran's history from 1500 to the present, with an emphasis on political and religious developments under the Safavid, Qajar and Pahlavi dynasties, and the Islamic Republic.