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Hunter B

- Research Program Mentor

PhD at Duke University


History; Religion; Islamic Studies; History of the Middle East; History of South Asia; Issues in Science and Religion; the History of Philosophy; Science and Technology Studies (STS)


I am a cultural and intellectual historian of Islam, and I research Persian and Arabic manuscripts from archives and private libraries in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and South Asia. I completed my PhD in Islamic Studies at Duke after training in Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard (M.A.) as well as Political Science at Swarthmore College (B.A.), having lived at various points over the past two decades in Syria, Lebanon, Tajikistan, Germany, France, Iran, and India. More recently, I have taught in the classrooms of large public and private R1 universities as well as smaller liberal arts colleges. As a history nerd, I love training students to undertake close readings of sources, to tell interesting stories through structured writing projects and original podcasts, and to consider the ways in which novel narratives about the past can disrupt old biases. I also love standup comedy. I look forward to working with students who want to get their hands dirty with new textual and visual media, apply critical theory, or conduct research in languages that they have recently begun learning for the very first time.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Podcasting About the Not-So-Dark Ages

Medieval history often gets short shrift: it happened a long time ago, in dead languages, and peoples' lives appeared solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. In shedding new light about the deep past for a public audience, you will conduct research to develop a narrative that can serve as the basis of a podcast series. By familiarizing yourself with recent scholarship, popular literature, or foundational primary sources, you will clean out the cobwebs from the dimly lit corners of the past by drawing our attention to overlooked subjects, characters, and events that speak to our current predicaments and help us come to terms with our present circumstance.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Op-Ed

What does it mean to have an opinion worthy of an audience? We will learn how to critique, evaluate, and produce original and hard-hitting opinion pieces designed for publication in different media outlets. By reading across different genres of opinion pieces, you will learn to appreciate the nuance of communicating complex data and information in concise yet refined prose. Then, by practicing the art of writing about scientific policy, foreign military intervention, or the need to shore up public education, you will be better equipped to produce an original op-ed tailored for a targeted media outlet of your choosing. In this way, you too can shape public opinion.

Languages I know

Arabic, Persian (Farsi)

Teaching experience

I served as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Department of Religious Studies at Duke University (2011-19). During this time, I also served as a Graduate Writing Instructor in Duke's Thompson Writing Program and completed training in college writing pedagogy. After completing my PhD, I taught medieval and modern Islamic history at North Carolina State University (2019-20). For three semesters, I taught large introductory courses on Religious Studies Theory and Methods at Elon University (2020-2021), and I also taught Introduction to Islam at the University of Oklahoma (Spring 2021). Then, I executed a postdoctoral research fellowship at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris, France (2022-2023). Now, I am a Lecturer at the University of Washington-Seattle, where I teach Islamic Studies and Classical Arabic courses.


Work experience

Elon University (2020 - 2021)
Adjunct Assistant Professor
The University of Oklahoma (2021 - 2021)
Visiting Lecturer
North Carolina State University (2019 - 2020)
Teaching Postdoctoral Scholar
Duke University (2012 - 2019)
Graduate Teaching Assistant


Swarthmore College
BA Bachelor of Arts (2007)
Political Science
Harvard University
MA Master of Arts (2011)
Middle Eastern Studies
Duke University
PhD Doctor of Philosophy (2019)
Islamic Studies

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