Islamic World Studies

Course Descriptions

  • ISLM 202: History of India
    A survey of civilization in south Asia over five millennia, focusing on core themes such as society, culture, political economy, administrative institutions, religious practices, and the impact of foreign invasions and cultures. Utilizing archaeological evidence as well as written sources, we study the peoples and civilizations of the subcontinent (including the Harappan civilization, the Aryans, technology and society from the Iron Age to the era of Buddha, the Mauryas and other north Indian polities, and the Gupta era and the kingdoms of south India). Then we discuss the Indo-Islamic heritage and the impact of Turkish rule, ending with the Mughal Empire. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: HIST 216, ASIA 202
  • ISLM 203: Modern South Asia
    Survey of South Asia - today the countries of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh - from 1750 to the present, a period that includes more than a century and a half of British colonial rule. The course is designed to offer a critical study of the issues that shaped the region: the transition to colonialism in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and its impact on the Indian economy, culminating in revolt against the British in 1857; the rise of Indian nationalist movements, the anti-colonial struggle, and events leading to independence and partition of the subcontinent in 1947 and the aftermath; political developments in the post-colonial states of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Theories about caste, class, gender, and the role of religion are explored in detail to illuminate the post-colonial problems of the subcontinent. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: HIST 217, ASIA 203
  • ISLM 213: Global Islam
    This course explores the origin and development of the Islamic religious tradition, along with varying interpretations of Islamic law and prominent issues facing contemporary Muslims around the world. Participants in the course read classical and contemporary literature as windows into Muslim life in different cultures and historical periods, and view Islamic art and architecture as visual texts. To learn about the rich diversity within Islam, students can work with texts, rituals, poetry, music, and film from a range of cultures within the Muslim world, from the Middle East, Africa, and Asia to Europe and North America. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: RELG 213, ASIA 213
  • ISLM 216: Politics of Middle East
    Study will focus on issues of modernization; the nature of Middle East governments; the past and present impact of religion on the region's culture and socio-political system; the Arab-Israeli conflict and its implications for world peace; and the impact of oil on the economy and regime stability in the Persian Gulf region. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: POLS 216
  • ISLM 217: Ottoman Empire
    This course examines the political, economic, and social dimensions of the Ottoman Empire from the 14th to the early 20th centuries. We will explore the global context in which the Ottoman Empire arose and the nature of the relationship between the Ottoman Empire and Europe. The course will also examine the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire in the context of the emergence of the modern Middle East. No prerequisite. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
  • ISLM 220: Islam and Pop Culture
    In recent decades the global Islamic revival has produced a new generation of Muslim film stars and fashion models, Sufi self-help gurus, Muslim comic book heroes, romance novel writers, calligraphy artists, and even Barbie dolls. This course explores the pop sensations, market niches, and even celebrity scandals of 'Popular Islam' within the broader context of religious identity, experience, and authority in Islamic traditions. Balancing textual depth with geographic breadth, the course includes several case studies: Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Mali, Turkey, and North America. Students will learn about how religious trends are created -- and debated -- on pop culture's public stage. We will reflect critically on both primary materials and inter-disciplinary scholarly writings about the relationships between pop culture, religious identities, devotional practices, and political projects. No pre-requisites. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: RELG 220, ASIA 220
  • ISLM 243: Crusade & Holy War in Med Europe
    (Crusade and Holy War in Medieval Europe) Medieval Europe experienced widespread debate about the use of violence by Christians. The course considers early definitions of Just War and the attempts by the church to control violence around the year 1000. Detailed examination of the origin of the idea of crusade and the history of the First Crusade (1095-99) from Christian, Jewish, Greek, and Muslim perspectives. Examines the later medieval phenomenon of crusade against other Christians.
    Cross-listed as: HIST 243, RELG 248
  • ISLM 255: 21st Century Islam
    The 1.5 billion Muslims around the world represent an immense diversity of languages, ethnicities, cultures, contexts and perspectives. This course focuses on 21st century issues faced by Muslims living in different cultures. Contemporary social issues are examined in light of different interpretations of Islamic practice, global communication and social networks, elements of popular culture, and the interface between religion and government. Biographies, short stories, contemporary journalism, and films that explore life in Muslim and non-Muslim countries present a nuanced portrait of contemporary Islam. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: RELG 255, ASIA 255
  • ISLM 286: Topics in Islamic Art
    This course examines the visual arts of early and medieval Islam from the seventh through the thirteenth centuries in Muslim territories, ranging from Central Asia to Spain. Through an examination of diverse media, we shall explore the role of visual arts played in the formation and expression of Islamic cultural identity. Topics will include the uses of figural and non-figural imagery, religious and secular art, public and private art and the status, function, and meaning of the portable luxury objects. No prerequisites. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: ARTH 286
  • ISLM 308: Contemporary France
    This course will address current subjects of debate in France and study how France has changed (politically and socially) since its major period of decolonization in the 1950s-60s. Particular attention will be given to France's efforts to integrate immigrants, and specific issues related to French residents of Muslim heritage. Through the reading and discussion of literature and critical essays, as well as viewing current films and internet/satellite news broadcasts, students will gain greater understanding of France's changing identity. Oral and written competence will be enhanced by discussion, debate, presentation, and writing short papers in French. Prerequisite: FREN 212 or equivalent. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: FREN 308
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  • ISLM 310: Islamic Mysticism
    Muslim saints and seekers have performed mystical practices for more than 1300 years in areas stretching from Europe and North Africa to Turkey, Iran, and the Indian subcontinent. Contemporary holy men and holy women continue to teach such mystical practices as the dancing and whirling of dervishes, the up-tempo singing of qawwals in India and Pakistan, and the rhythmic chanting of Arabic verses in Egypt. In this course, we will explore the religious thinking of these holy men and women through their writing, art, and music. Texts will include novels, short stories, allegorical tales, biographies, and films. No prerequisite. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: RELG 310, ASIA 310
  • ISLM 311: Stereotyping Indian Cities
    Stereotyping Indian Cities: 'Hindu' or 'Muslim.' This seminar analyzes the controversial aspects of Indian urbanization through case studies of ancient cities, pilgrimage centers, Mughal capitals, and colonial British metropolises. We will examine archaeological evidence, maps, official histories, travelogues, and regional literature on the Indian cities. We will analyze the colonial interpretation of Indian history as a contestation of two homogenous religious communities - Hindu and Muslim - and explore recent challenges to that model. The students will be involved in scholarly debates through a variety of written projects, including critical reviews and a research essay, as well as oral presentations. No prerequisite. HIST 202/203 recommended. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement).
    Cross-listed as: HIST 348, ASIA 311
  • ISLM 312: Political Systems: Islamic World
    About one in four countries have Muslim-majority populations. This course examines the political systems of the Islamic world, which spans the globe from Europe and Africa to Southeast Asia. Students learn about the variety of regime types among these countries, including absolute and constitutional monarchies, one-party republics, theocracies, and Islamic and liberal democracies. Particular attention is given to the role of religion, culture, economic development, and history in the formation and operation of the political orders of these countries. Prerequisite: POLS 110 or consent of instructor. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: POLS 311
  • ISLM 313: Political Islam
    This course examines the interaction of Islam and politics. It begins with an examination of the relationship between Islam and politics in the early history of the Islamic state. It then studies the ways in which Islam is incorporated into Muslim countries today and the various models of contemporary Islam-state relations. The course also examines Islamist movements and parties, and their role in the domestic politics of Muslim countries, including the period of the Arab Spring. Prerequisite: Politics 110 or consent of instructor. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: POLS 313
  • ISLM 316: Contemporary Islamic Societies
    This course will examine how Islamic societies responded to political and social changes as these societies transitioned from traditional empires to contemporary nation-states in the 19th and 20th centuries. The course will examine the process of introducing western political and social ideologies to traditional Islamic societies, and how adopting the model of the modern nation-state affected Islamic perspectives on politics, economics, and culture. The course will explore the diversity of Islamic communities and the challenges these have experienced from the 19th to the 21st centuries. Prerequisites: At least one course listed as HIST or ISLM. This course is not open to first-year students. (Meets Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: HIST 351
  • ISLM 317: Islamic Cultures in South Asia
    This seminar focuses upon the shared history and cultural heritage of Muslims in the Indian sub-continent. It will cover the Muslim experience from the conquest of Sindh (750 CE), through the medieval and early modern empires, to the events leading to the partition of the Indian subcontinent (1947), bringing the story to the present. Questions of identity, assimilation, and integrative processes will be examined through an exploration of political, administrative, and intellectual history. The experiences, thoughts, and perspectives of mystics, poets, and women will be highlighted to investigate the role of Muslims in shaping and enriching the cultures, society, and religious traditions of the Indian subcontinent. Prerequisite RELG/ISLM 213 or permission of instructor. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: HIST 345, ASIA 317, RELG 317
  • ISLM 321: Jewish-Christian-Muslim Conv
    (Jewish-Christian-Muslim Conversations) This course examines the role the Christian Testament plays in including Jews and Judaism in the Christian story, and the Qur'anic treatment of Christians/Christianity and Jews/Judaism. We consider the relationships among these three monotheistic traditions in the course of their shared history up to our own day. We will study both positive and negative moments in these conversations. Finally, we will explore ways of healing the rifts that have developed in the course of these conversations. Prerequisite: any course in religion, junior standing or consent of the instructor. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: RELG 321
  • ISLM 322: Sociology of Islam
    This course uses the discipline of historical sociology to explore the origins of Islam and the reasons it took the shape it did during its formative years in mid seventh century. It will continue to trace the development of Islam in a variety of different cultural environment. Finally we will deal with the encounter of Islam and the modern world and the formation of fundamentalism, national Islamism and the secular, reform tendencies in that religion. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: SOAN 322
  • ISLM 330: The French-Speaking World
    This course will familiarize students with the history, politics and contemporary culture of various areas of the French-speaking world (such as in Canada, Africa, the Middle East and Western Europe); particular attention will be paid to areas of the French-speaking Islamic World. Topics will vary, and may include discussion of immigration, women's issues, political conflict, changing social and national identity. The course will draw from film, literature, critical materials and contemporary news sources. Prerequisite: French 212 or 220. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: FREN 330
  • ISLM 349: Topics: U.S. Presidents & Jerusalem
    Until 1967, the U.S. accepted the international consensus on the issue of Jerusalem, which called for the internationalization of the city according to General Assembly Resolution 181. Also, the U.S. refused to recognize both Israel's annexation of West Jerusalem and Jordan's annexation of East Jerusalem. After the 1967 War, Israel extended its control to Arab East Jerusalem and later declared all Jerusalem its eternal capital. Since then, American presidents have stopped short of pressuring Israel to abide by Resolution 181, arguing instead that the future of Jerusalem should be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians. This course studies the complex history of the positions of modern American presidents on Jerusalem, focusing on how American domestic politics has shaped U.S. policy and the interactions between U.S. presidential administrations and international actors on the status of Jerusalem.
    Cross-listed as: IREL 349
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