About the Department

Director's Welcome

Brian Edwards, MENA DirectorThis is an exciting time to study the Middle East and North Africa—and Northwestern is an especially dynamic place to do so. Here, we are pursuing new directions in thinking, teaching, and writing about a diverse region that has shown the world that the standard ways for understanding it are fast disappearing.

Northwestern’s Middle East and North African Studies Program (MENA) is committed to offering students and the community at large an in-depth understanding of the region that stretches from Morocco to the Gulf States and Iran, and from the Mediterranean into the Sahara and beyond.

Our award-winning faculty is drawn from the disciplines of anthropology, art history, comparative literature, history, political science, religion, film and media studies, among others.  It is comprised of teachers and scholars who study and write about this region from a variety of perspectives, with a particular focus on the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.

Our curriculum at both the undergraduate and graduate levels are enhanced by weekly events—open to the entire community—which feature both scholars based at Northwestern and eminent visitors from a range of disciplines.  These lunchtime events, known as MENA Mondays, give a sense of the dynamism of the field and the diversity of the region itself.  We have recently forged a partnership with the Evanston Public Library to expand this successful program beyond the campus. This evening series held in downtown Evanston represents one aspect of our community outreach and our commitment to helping foster dialogue around the complex, frequently misunderstood, and ever fascinating region we study and teach about.

I hope you will join us in this exploration, whether to take a course or two, attend a lecture or cultural event, or to embark upon a major, a minor, or a graduate certificate.  Please join our mailing list, like us on our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, and check back here frequently for news and events.  

Brian T. Edwards
Director, Program in Middle East and North African Studies
Crown Professor in Middle East Studies
Professor of English and Comparative Literary Studies