Charles Wilkins

charles wilkins


Associate Professor Charles Wilkins
Middle East
B-109 Tribble Hall, 758-3090



BioCharles Wilkins joined the Wake Forest faculty in 2006 as Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern history. He is the author of Forging Urban Solidarities: Ottoman Aleppo, 1640-1700. His research is concerned with the social history of the Ottoman Empire in the Early Modern Period (1500-1800).  His specific research interests include Ottoman empire-building in the Arab provinces, war and society, the family, and Islamic legal practices.  Before coming to Wake Forest in 2006, Wilkins taught Middle Eastern history at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Colorado College.  He graduated from Duke University in 1988 and, after serving in the US Army, received his masters degree in Islamic History at Ohio State University and doctoral degree in History and Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University (2006).  He is currently working on a book project entitled, “Lives Astride: A Social and Cultural History of Ottoman Aleppo, 1516-1918.”

B.A.      Duke University 1988
M.A.     The Ohio State University 1996
Ph.D.    Harvard University 2006

Academic Appointments:
Wake Forest University.  Assistant Professor (2006-present)
Colorado College.  Assistant Professor (2005-2006)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Visiting Lecturer (2003-2005)

Click here for the complete CV.


  • Forging Urban Solidarities: Ottoman Aleppo, 1640-1700.  Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2010.
  • “Syrian Resources of Ottoman History: The Center for Historical Documents in Damascus.”  In Türk Araştırmaları Dergisi (The Turkish Studies Journal) (Istanbul) 11 (2002): 233-46.
  • “Witnesses and Testimony in the Courts of 17th-Century Ottoman Aleppo,” in Stefan Knost and Vanessa Guéno, eds., Lire et écrire l’histoire ottoman; Examen critique des documents des tribunaux du Bilâd al-Shâm (Damascus: Institut Français du Proche Orient; and Beirut: Orient-Institut Beirut (forthcoming).
  • “A Demographic Profile of Slaves in Early Ottoman Aleppo,” in Christoph Witzenrath, ed., Slavery, Ransom and Liberation in Russia and the Steppe Area, 1500-2000 (forthcoming).

For a complete list of publications, click CV.


  • HST 107 Middle East and the World
    Examines in its global context the history of the Middle East and Islamic civilization from the seventh century to the twentieth century.  We will consider in turn the struggle of the early Muslim community to define itself against the older monotheistic religions; the phenomenal spread of Muslim institutions and customs across Afro-Eurasia; the complex and multi-sided interactions of religious communities during the European Crusades and Turco-Mongol migrations; the resurgence of Middle Eastern geo-political power under the last Muslim empires (1500-1800); and finally, after 1800 the economic and political ascendancy of Europe and the varied political, social, and intellectual responses of Middle Eastern peoples to that challenge. Key themes include orientalism and the Western representation of other cultures; the variety and evolution of social and political compacts or constitutions; and the cross-cultural reception of ideas, commodities, and technologies.
  • FYS 100 Power and Dissent in the Modern Arab World
    This interdisciplinary course examines in historical perspective various hierarchies of power in the twentieth and twenty-first century Arab world and considers how these hierarchies were both mirrored and critiqued by Arabic prose literature. Making use of the genres of novel and short story, the course explores three power struggles waged by the Arab middle classes, from which the authors came: the campaign against European colonialism, the subsequent dissent against the abuse of power by post-colonial independent Arab states, and, at the social level, the recurring critique of patriarchy, in the family and in the public sphere.  A wave of translation, especially in the last decade, has made accessible to English-speakers a wide variety of Arabic prose literature that projects the political and social conscience of one Middle Eastern society and the passionate debates among Arabs about their common future.
  • HST 242 The Middle East before 1500
    This course surveys Middle Eastern history from the rise of Islam to the emergence of the last great Muslim empires. The class provides an overview of political history with more in-depth emphasis on the development of Islamic culture and society in the pre-modern era.
  • HST 243 The Middle East since 1500
    This class surveys modern Middle Eastern history from the collapse of the last great Muslim empires to the present day. Topics include the rise and demise of the Ottoman and Safavid empires, socio-political reform, the impact of colonialism, Islamic reform, the development of nationalism, and contemporary social and economic challenges.
  • HST 387 Islamic Empires Compared:  the Ottomans, Safavids, and Mughals
    This course examines, in a comparative way, central themes in the history of the Ottoman, Mughal, and Safavid Empires in the early modern period (1400-1800). It considers the ways in which Muslim rulers fostered political legitimacy, ruled over non-Muslim and heterodox subject populations, and recruited persons of diverse religious and ethnic background into state service. (CD)
  • HST 388 Nation, Faith, and Gender in the Middle East
    This course traces the development of nationalism and its interaction with religious, transnational, and gender identities in the Middle East in the 19th and 20th centuries. Topics include Zionism, Arabism, Turkish nationalism, and Islamic revivalism.
  • HST 390 Travelers in the Early Modern Middle East
    The Early Modern Era (1400-1800) saw an unprecedented rise in the number of world travelers.  Including merchants, pilgrims, bureaucrats, diplomats, spies, scholars, and others, they generated a vast travel literature that articulated many different perspectives, motives, and agendas.  Foreign travel can be seen as assisting cross-cultural understanding, but one could argue that just as often it helped only to confirm the point of view of the traveler.  This seminar explores, in turn, the defining characteristics of the Early Modern Period, the vexed question of Orientalism, and conclude with an exploration of selected European travelers in the Middle East and selected Middle Easterner travelers in Europe. Making use of primary English language sources, students are invited to write substantial research papers on a single traveler or otherwise examine a theme or pattern among multiple accounts.
  • HST 390 War and Society in the Early modern Era, 1400-1800
    This seminar examines the multifaceted relationship between warmaking and society in the European and Muslim worlds in the Early Modern Period.  It explores the ways in which the process of warmaking – the mobilization of civilian populations, the manufacture of weapons and supplies, the building of administrative mechanisms, and battlefield violence – transformed states and societies.  Even before the Industrial Revolution took place, the growth of national armies, expansion of state bureaucracies, and the rise of gunpowder technologies contributed to the shaping of states and societies, both European and Muslim, that we can call “modern.”  The seminar also considers other facets of the relationship between war and society in the early modern period: the role of technology and science in warmaking, the “culture” of violence and ritual acts; and how literature can reflect mentalities about war and peace.