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Publications in VIVO

Willis, John Matthew

Associate Professor


Research Areas research areas


research overview

  • John Willis is a cultural historian of the modern Middle East and Islamic world. He is a specialist in the histories of the Arabian Peninsula and the Indian Ocean World.


selected publications


courses taught

  • HIST 1308 - Introduction to Middle Eastern History
    Primary Instructor - Summer 2018 / Fall 2018 / Fall 2019 / Fall 2020 / Fall 2021 / Fall 2023
    Interdisciplinary course that focuses on medieval and modern history of the Middle East (A.D. 600 to the present). Introduces the Islamic civilization of the Middle East and the historical evolution of the region from the traditional into the modern eras. Covers social patterns, economic life, and intellectual trends, as well as political development.
  • HIST 1800 - Introduction to Global History
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2020 / Spring 2021
    The first cornerstone course for history majors applies a broad perspective to the global past in order to illuminate how common historical patterns and processes, as well as unique elements, shaped the human experience. Using a thematic approach, all topical variations of this course highlight cross-cultural interactions among societies, and, when relevant, how historical processes that began centuries ago still impact the contemporary world. Topics will vary by section. Department enforced prerequisite: 3 hours of any history coursework.
  • HIST 3110 - Honors Seminar
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2023
    Practical historiography for students who wish to write a senior honors thesis. Emphasizes choice of topic, critical methods, research, organization, argumentation, and writing. Recommended restriction: History GPA of 2.0 or higher. May be repeated up to 6 total credit hours.
  • HIST 3120 - Honors Thesis
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2024
    Department enforced prerequisite: HIST 3110 and instructor consent.
  • HIST 4328 - The Modern Middle East, 1600 to the Present
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2019 / Summer 2019 / Spring 2022
    Primarily from 1800 to the present. Attention divided equally between the region's political history and international relations and its patterns of economic, social and cultural modernization in the main countries. Recommended prerequisite: HIST 1308. Same as HIST 5328.
  • HIST 4329 - Islam in the Modern World: Revivalism, Modernism, and Fundamentalism, 1800-2001
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018 / Spring 2020 / Spring 2024
    Examines the more important movements of reform in Muslim world (including Africa, the Middle East and India) from the 18th century to the present, and their origins and intellectual import. Due to the trans-regional nature of this broad movement of reform, particular attention is paid to how these movements related to local political, economic and social contexts, and how they, in turn, moved across larger networks of oceanic commerce and trade. Concludes with extended case studies of Islamic reformism in modern Egypt and India, and their ultimate influence on the politics of contemporary Islamist movements, especially the intellectual position of Ussama B. Ladin. Recommended prerequisite: HIST 1308.
  • HIST 4359 - The Global History of Modern Arabia
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2018 / Fall 2020 / Spring 2024
    Examines the history, politics and society of the countries of the Arabian Peninsula (modern day Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE) in the period between 1800 and the present. The guiding assumption will be that the histories of Arabia cannot be studied in isolation from broader histories of capital formation, imperialism, religious reform, state formation and the discourses and practices which they informed. To that end, the focus will be on Arabia as part of the British, Ottoman and Omani Empires, a participant in Indian Ocean commerce, a source and destination for migrant scholars, students and laborers, the center of the petroleum economy and a domain of struggle for activists and intellectuals representing multiple political/ideological currents-not only Islamist, but also, liberal, socialist and communist.
  • HIST 5000 - Historical Methods: Introduction to the Professional Study of History
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2019
    Introduces purposes, materials, and techniques of historical scholarship. Theory, practice, and criticism.
  • HIST 6800 - Readings in Global History
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018
    Explores various topics, regions, and methods in history and historical writing by utilizing a global/thematic approach. Geared toward graduate students in History, but students from other disciplines with graduate standing may enroll with instructor consent. Topic and content of course will vary depending on instructor. May be repeated up 12 total credit hours.
  • HIST 6940 - Master's Degree Candidate
    Primary Instructor - Summer 2021
  • HIST 6950 - Master's Thesis
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2021
  • HIST 7800 - Research Seminar in Global History
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2021
    Discusses various topics, themes and methods which inform the field of Global History. Readings and research papers will explore transnational and global historical interactions, including the exchange of ideas, peoples, commodities, and cultural practices. Geared toward graduate students in History, but students from other disciplines with graduate standing may enroll with instructor consent. Topic and content of course will vary depending on instructor. May be repeated up 12 total credit hours.


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