Skip to content Skip to navigation

Ottoman Empire and Middle East Graduate Program Information

Ottoman Empire and Middle East (OEME)

The graduate program in the Ottoman Empire and Middle East (formerly Middle East and Central Asia, MECA) field offers the opportunity to specialize both in Ottoman and Modern Middle Eastern history, from the fifteenth century to the present.  The geographical scope of the OEME field roughly encompasses Southeast Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Black Sea basin, Turkey, and the Arab World.  However, the OEME field also challenges static geographical categories and offers dynamic spatial and temporal perspectives, emphasizing shifting borders and frontiers, transregional networks and connections, as well as movements of people, ideas and objects within and beyond the Ottoman World and the Modern Middle East.  The Stanford OEME program aims to train graduate students to conduct rigorous empirical research, to asamine archival material and manuscripts and to address analytical and eonceptual notions/problems in early modern and late modern history.  While students are expected to specialize in diffeent topics, problems, regions and periods in Ottoman and/or Modern Middle East history in the global context, we also encourage them to develop holistic visions incorporating social and economic transformations, political and institutional processes, cultural life, gender relations and interdependence between human society and nature and human and non-human worlds.  The OEME field also supports students who intend to expand their research in digital humanities.

I. Language Requirement

Students in Ottoman History are expected to have fluency in Turkish, reading competency in Ottoman-Turkish, and proficiency in at least one other Ottoman or Middle East language relevant to her/his research project, such as Arabic, Greek, Kurdish, Armenian, Judeo-Spanish, Hebrew, Bulgarian, Bosnian-Serbo-Croatian, and Albanian.  Students of Modern Middle East history are expected have fluency in Arabic and proficiency in at least one more Middle Eastern language.  All graduate students in OEME field also need to acquire proficiency in at least one other major research language, such as French, German and Russian, depending on her/his project.  The language requirements can be satisfied by research work that demonstrates facility in the given languages (as certified by the instructor in writing to the GSC), or through examination by the respective Stanford language instructors.

II. Course Requirements

During the first year of graduate study students are expected to enroll in at least two graduate level colloquia.  Students should also plan on taking a directed reading course focused on the general area in which they are considering writing a thesis.  Students must complete graduate courses in Ottoman and Middle East history with at least two different professors in the field during the course of their study.  At least one of the two required research seminars must be in the field of Ottoman and Middle East history.  It is strongly recommended that the first of these seminars be taken in the first year of study.  The field of the second research seminar will be chosen in consultation with the major advisor.

III. University Oral Examinations

Students are expected to take University Oral Examinations (see General Program Descriptions and Requirements above) during the third year, though on occasions the exam could be scheduled for a later date because of linguistic and other skills that students have to acquire depending on their area of specialization.  Competency in Ottoman and Middle Eastern history assessed in this examination assumes that students are conversant with the major literature in these fields covering from fourteenth century through the modern period.

IV. Prospectus and Dissertation

Before starting dissertation research abroad, students will write and present a prospectus (See General Program Descriptions and Requirements above) describing the subject and scope of the dissertation, reviewing the relevant historiography, and outlining available sources.  Prospectus writing and presentation must be completed in the third year.  Dissertation research will often require at least one year of research on primary sources, normally in archives, often in the region or regions being studied.  Funding proposals for field research should be submitted in the autumn of the student's third year of study, a year before the research begins.  The dissertation will evaluated by a dissertation committee consisting of normally four faculty members.  The student and the advisor should agree on the members of the committee, which include at least one other member of the OEME field in addition to the main advisor.  It is possible to invite a committee member from another department or institution.  Completion of the dissertation is normally expected by the end of the fifth or sixth year.

After a student completes the penultimate draft of the entire dissertaion, there will be an oral presentation/discussion of the disssertaton (see General Program Descriptions and Requirements above) with the participation of the student and all the members of the dissertation reading committee (or substitutes if necessary).  In response to feedback at the defense, a student may elect (or be directed) to make revisions to the dissertation.  In the best of cases, students will file the information from the presentation away for use when they revise the dissertation for publication.