Despite the long history of U.S. intervention and involvement in the region, many Americans seem to find the Middle East difficult to understand. This apparent confusion has given rise to a kind of explainer industry in journalism, as journalists, scholars, and others have worked to explain the Middle East to those who find its social, cultural, and political history overwhelming. In Dr. Nathan’s “Making of the Modern Middle East” course, students began the semester with this question – why do we so often think the Middle East needs “explaining”? And why do so many writers behave as if it defies understanding? Over the course of the spring semester, students have worked to unpack the complexities of the region’s many stories and to build their understanding of its present through its past. As a final project, each student identified a topic in the contemporary Middle East to research, with the goal of crafting an “explainer”-style article to help the Grace community understand the issues shaping the region today. We have compiled these explainers, which cover topics ranging from gender and women’s rights in Saudi Arabia to the Israeli elections to Turkey’s drift toward authoritarianism, and many more subjects. We hope you enjoy!