This course is an introduction to the cultural history of the modern Middle East. It provides the cultural historical background for – to name only a few contexts – the Syrian conflict and the global refugee crisis; the modern Armenian struggle for culture and identity; “political Islam” of the modern, secular Turkish republic; the Arab spring; the Israeli-Palestian conflict; and the emergence of ISIS. The modern Middle East was born from the ashes of a Muslim empire about a century ago. This empire once covered most of North Africa and the Middle East and parts of Eastern Europe. Nationalist movements forged new identities as the Ottoman empire began to lose power in the 19th century and as the idea of Islam went through a speedy transformation. European powers competed with each other to conquer Ottoman lands and seas. "Scramble for Africa" had repercussions not only for the North African subjects of the empire but across the Middle East. Twentieth century brought a colonial war to this part of the world. The first negotiations for a Jewish homeland in Palestine took place in the final era of Ottoman rule of the Middle East, while the Armenian genocide and other atrocities left indelible marks. The rich cultural archive of Ottoman modernity responds to these seismic events. We will read historical accounts and memoirs, essays, articles, novels, classical and modern poetry to trace the birth of the modern Middle East out of Ottoman decline, Western colonial aggression, and national struggles.