Teaching

Thomas lecturing in a bright, brick dining hall, with rows of tables and people

As a teacher, moderator, facilitator and panelist, I cultivate non-hierarchical, collegial space where everyone feels comfortable and welcomed to share the unique perspectives they bring to our community. An intellectual omnivore, I build on my background in the arts, academia and activism to anchor my presentations in rigorous research as well as popular culture that brings ideas to life.

 
In addition to university courses, I  have given private lectures for Elective and the Swedish Boys and Girl Scouts, and in recent months, participated in digital dialogues with afikra, Armenian Action Network, Ars Nova, Woolly Mammoth Theater, Yale GALA, Yale Arab Alumni Association, Critical Muslim Studies with the Association for Asian Studies, and the Netflix Institute.

Courses

An Andalusian hall in a hotel in Barranquilla, with arches and a skylight over red tiles

American Constructions of the Middle East

As reported in December 2015, Public Policy Polling showed that 30% of Republicans and 19% of Democrats supporting bombing “Agrabah,” the fictional city of Disney’s Aladdin. Among Trump supporters, the tally was even higher, as was their support for the “Muslim ban” and outlawing Islam in the US outright. How do we reconcile many Americans’ limited knowledge of the MENA region with their certainty that they must ban Muslims, bomb Agrabah, or legislate against “shariah law”?

 

This course historicizes and interrogates various perceptions of the “Middle East” to better understand the emotional and material investments Americans hold for the region. In a moment in which expertise is uniquely devalued – and truthiness, to borrow from Stephen Colbert, seems to matter as much as fact – this course seriously considers how and why Americans feel so deeply - and so certainly - about the Middle East. 

An upward facing view of an Islamicate building and pointed arch with the sun shining above

MENA American Autobiography

Moustafa Bayoumi’s How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? has become one of the most commonly assigned high school and university required readings, but few scholars have contextualized this work within the long and rich history of autobiographies by people of MENA descent, especially in diaspora. This course aims to rectify this oversight by considering a range of autobiographical works by MENA Americans, while also interrogating autobiography as a historical archive. Moving chronologically, this course examines the varied identities and beliefs these autobiographies articulate, to foreground diaspora as an essential facet of Middle Eastern and American identities, and to trace changes and continuities in the the region as a critical site to explore contemporary globalization.

An image of Frantz Fanon, the psychologist, theorist and activist from a square in Martinique

Selected Topics in Global Studies: Critical Theory and Race

This course provides a solid foundation in key theorists for contemporary Humanities scholarship on race, establishing cross-disciplinary connections as well as productive tensions. By pairing a brief - though rigorous - theory excerpt with a full monograph each week, this course will hone students' ability to identify critical concepts as well as how race scholars have utilized theory for a variety of audiences. Examining myriad analytical frames used to make sense of globalization and modernity, this course examines race and especially race-making as salient characteristics of modern governance as well as identity formation in the modern world. 

Lectures