History 190 – Revolutionary Iran

This seminar deals with Iranian society and history from the nineteenth century to the present. The basic question posed is that why Iran has been in revolt and revolutions for the past two centuries. From the Tobacco Revolt to the Green Revolution, Iranians have confronted colonial and dictatorial regimes. This course attempts to survey these important periods in Iranian history from the Babi movement to the Tobacco revolt in the nineteenth century. This is followed by the Constitutional Revolution of 1906, the downfall of the Qajars and the Pahlavi Dynasty; the nationalization of Iranian Oil and the coup of 1953 against Dr. Mohammad Mossadeq; the White Revolution of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi to the 1979 Revolution, led by Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini and finally; the Green Revolution after the 2008 elections.

Time: Tuesdays 5:00-7:50pm
Location: HH 108
Office: Krieger Hall 324
Office Hours: 2:00-3:00pm


The grade is based on the weekly discussion and response to the readings the following week in the class. You are to also write a research paper on any of the discussed periods for your final. By the fifth week of the course you are to present a full two page abstract, along with a bibliography about the topic you will be working and presenting at the end of the course.

Weekly discussion & Response essays: 40% / Abstract: 10% / Paper & Presentation: 50%


Ervand Abrahamian, A History of Modern Iran, Cambridge, 2008.

Articles: Weekly readings given in the class.

Week I: Prolegomena: Revolutionary Iran? Why? (Sept. 27th)

Week II: From the Babi Movement to the Tobacco Revolt: 19th Century Style Revolt (Oct. 4th)

  • M. Momen, “The Social Basis of the Babi Upheavals in Iran (1848-53), IJMES, vol. 15, 1983.
  • R.I. Cole, “Iranian Millenarianism and Democratic Thought in the 19th Century,” IJMES, vol. 24, 1992.
  • A.K.S. Lambton, “The Tobacco Regie: Prelude to Revolution I,” Studia Islamica, No. 22, 1965.
  • M. Moaddel, “Shi’I Political Discourse and Class Mobilization in the Tobacco Movement of 1890-1892,” Sociological Forum, Vol. 7, 1992.
  • C. Masroori, “Mirza Ya’qub Khan’s Call for Representative Government, toleration and Islamic Reform in Ninteenth-Century Iran,” Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 37, 2001.

Week III: The Constitutional Revolution of 1906 (Oct. 11th)

  • A.-H. Hairi, “ ‘Ulama Participate in the Persian Constitutional Revolution of 1905-1909?,” Die Welt des Islams, vol. 17, 1977.
  • J. Foran, “The Strengths and Weaknesses of Iran’s Populist Alliance: A Class Analysis of the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-1911,” Theory and Society, vol. 20, 1991.
  • N.R. Keddie, “Religion and Irreligion in Early Iranian Nationalism,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, vol. 4, 1962.
  • M. Tavakoli-Targhi, “Refashioning Iran: Language and Culture during the Constitutional Revolution,” Iranian Studies, vol. 23, 1990.
  • Ervand Abrahamian, “Oriental Despotism: The Case of Qajar Iran,” IJMES, vol. 5, 1974.
  • M. Reza Afshari, “The Historians of the Constitutional Movement and the Making of Iranian Populist Tradition,” IJMES, vol. 25, 1993.
  • Ervand Abrahamian, “The Causes of the Constitutional Revolution in Iran,” IJMES, vol. 10, 1979.
  • M.B. Loraine, “Bahar in the Context of Persian Constitutional Revolution,” Iranian Studies, vol. 5,
  • 1972.

Week IV: Was Reza Shah a Revolutionary? Reform and the Pahlavi Dynasty (Oct. 18th)

  • E. Yarshater, “The Qajar Era in the Mirror of Time,” Iranian Studies, vol. 34, 2001.
  • V. Martin, “Mudarris, Republicanism and the Rise to Power of Riza Khan, Sardar-i Sipah,” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 21, 1994.
  • M. Reza Ghods, “Government and Society in Iran, 1926-34,” Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 27, 1991.
  • M. Reza Ghods, “Iranian Nationalism and Reza Shah,” Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 27, 1991.
  • H.E. Chehabi, “Staging the Emperor’s New Clothes: Dress Codes and Nation-Building under Reza Shah,” Iranian Studies, vol. 26, 1993.
  • M. Amin, “’Mother Iran’: Gender and Iranian Press in the 1940’s,” IJMES, vol. 33, 2001.

Week V: Mossadeq, Nationalization of Oil & the 1953 Coup (Oct 25th)

  • H. Katouzian, “The Campaign against the Anglo-Iranian Agreement of 1919,” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 25, 1998.
  • M. Behrooz, “Tudeh Factionalism and the 1953 Coup in Iran,” IJMES, vol. 33, 2001.
  • M.G. Majd, “The 1951-53 Oil Nationalization Dispute and the Iranian Economy,” vol. 31, 1995.
  • M.J. Gasiorowski, “The 1953 Coup D’etat in Iran,” IJMES, vol. 19, 1987.
  • E. Abrahamian, “The 1953 Coup in Iran,” Science & Society,” vol. 65, 2001.
  • Ch. Pain & E. Schoenberger, “Iranian Nationalism and the Great Powers: 1872-1954,” MERIP Reports, no. 37, 1975.

Week VI: Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi’s White Revolution (Nov. 1st)

  • A.M. Ansari, “The Myth of the White Revolution: Mohammad Reza Shah, ‘Modernization’ and the Consolidation of Power,” Middle East Studies, vol. 37, 2001.
  • A.R. Summitt, “For a White Revolution: John F. Kennedy and the Shah of Iran,” Middle East Journal, vol. 58, 2004.
  • R.K. Ramazani, “Iran’s ‘White Revolution’: A Study in Political Development,” IJMES, vol. 5, 1974.
  • K. Shahbaz, “Iran’s White Revolution,” World Affairs, vol. 126, 1963.

Week VII: The 1979 Revolution: Islamic Revolution or Revolution turned Islamic? (Nov. 8th)

  • V. Moghadam, “Socialism or Anti-Imperialism? The Left and Revolution in Iran,” PDF
  • S. Amir-Arjomand, “Iran’s Islamic Revolution in Comparative Perspective,” World Politics, 1986.
  • M. Parsa, “Theories of Collective Action and the Iranian Revolution,” Sociological Forum, vol. 3, 1988.
  • Elwell-Sutton, “The Iranian Revolution,” International Journal, vol. 34, 1979.
  • A.K. Hakkak, “Revolutionary Posturing: Iranian Writers and the Iranian Revolution of 1979,” IJMES, vol. 23, 1991.

Week VIII: Green Reform & Revolution: One Hundred Years of Solitude (Nov. 15th)

  • N. Koshy, “Mandate for Reform in Iran,” Economic & Political Weekly, vol. 35, 2000.
  • C. Masroori, “The conceptual Obstacles to Political Reform in Iran,” The Review of Politics, vol. 69, 2007.
  • J. Amuzegar, “Khatami’s Legacy: Dashed Hopes,” Middle East Journal, vol. 50, 2006.
  • R. Afshari, “A Historic Moment in Iran,” Human Rights Quarterly, vol. 31, 2009.

Week IX: Paper Presentations (Nov. 22nd)

Week X: Paper Presentations (Nov. 29th

 December 6th Papers Due at 4:00pm in the History Department Office. Also staple all your weekly responses at the end of the paper

  • History 190 – Revolutionary Iran image