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Department of History

H346 History of Iran: Qajars to the Islamic Republic (I)

Course Code:
Course Not Running 2014/2015
Unit value:
Taught in:
Full Year

This course will cover the history of Iran from the late 18th century to the Islamic Republic. It is designed to introduce students to the central issues of Iranian history, including political, cultural, religious and social aspects. It will discuss the rise of the Qajars from the civil war of the 18th century, the Constitutional Revolution, the takeover of the Pahlavis, the ‘White’ and the Islamic Revolution as well as the formation of the Islamic Republic.

The dynastic outline serves to introduce a historiographical and chronological timeline, which provides an easily intelligible frame for more complex questions of modernization and political transformation. The course will thus focus on: 

  • internal and external factors of political and social change, 
  • the rise and impact of modernity, 
  • the encounter and confrontation with Europe, 
  • Imperialism in a non-colonial system, 
  • modernization and development in the 19th and 20th centuries 
  • the causes of the Iranian revolution and the Islamization of politics in the Khomeni era.

Part of the thematic discussion includes the rise of individual leaders, administrative and institutional change, militarism, and gender.

The course’s second objective, however, is the methodology of historical inquiry. 

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

  • Students will learn to approach historical events, political and intellectual trends not only through secondary historical writing but also through primary texts. 
  • This includes a general discussion of the nature of available historical sources, placing them in their context and how to read and interpret them. 
  • The goal is further to enable students to independent thought and criticism of prevailing historiographical themes and paradigms like the particularism or inherent radicalism of Shi’ism or the inherent revolutionary element of Shi’ite Islam.

Suggested reading

Abrahamian, Ervand, A History of Modern Iran (2008).

Ansari, Ali, Modern Iran: The Pahlavis and After (2007).

Keddie, Nikki, Modern Iran: Roots and Results of Revolution (2003, 2006).

Martin, Vanessa, The Qajar Pact (2005).

Mottahedeh, Roy, The Mantle of the Prophet: Religion and Politics in Iran (1985, 2000).

Ridgeon, Lloyd (ed.), Religion and Politics in Modern Iran: A Reader (2005).