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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Spring 2009

E 392M • Renaissance Representations of Islam

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
34770 MW
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
MEZ 1.104

Course Description

Since the Middle Ages and the Crusades, Muslim peoples occupied a charged space within the European cultural imaginary. Often they were deemed the fearsome adversaries of Christendom, standing poised for combat at the southern and eastern peripheries of Europe. By the sixteenth century, European views of Islam became still more complicated, as increasing contact and trade fostered economic and ideological rivalries, as well as curiosity-driven cultural dialogue between Christians, Muslims, Jews, and other religious and ethnic groups. The proposed graduate course will explore English and continental representations of Muslims and of Islam within a representative array of Renaissance poetry, novels, travel narratives, histories, theological writings, and Koranic translations. We will analyze, as well, certain works by noted sixteenth-century Islamic writers. Comparative Literature students will be asked to read a body of non-English texts in their original language(s). Such arrangements will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Among the topics we will consider are the following: Identity formation, Orientalism, and ethnic typologies of the Renaissance The role of Islam in the two Reformations The Renaissance military history and the Christian/Muslim encounter The politics of projection: sexuality, masculinities, and desire The Spanish Reconquista and colonialism Islam, Christianity, Judaism and early modern slavery The function of Islam in the Black Legend Early modern fantasies of conversion The psychology of large group conflict and resolution


Primary texts for this course will include the following works:

Christopher Marlowe, Tamburlaine the Great I and II, The Jew of Malta

William Shakespeare, Othello

Robert Greene, Selimus, Emperor of the Turks

Robert Daborne, A Christian Turned Turk

Philip Massinger, The Renegado

As well as excerpts from some or all of the following:

Erasmus, De Bello Turcico

Alexander Ross, The Alcoran of Mahomet

Thomas Fuller, The Historie of The Holy Warre

Isaac Barrow, Of the Impiety and imposture of Paganism and Mohammedanism

Humphrey Prideaux, The True Nature of Imposture Fully Displayed in the Life of Mahomet

Richard Knolles, Hystorie of the Turks

Georgius de Hungaria, Tractatus de Moribus, Condictionibus et Nequicia Turcorum

Thomas More, The Confutation of Tyndale's Answer

Thomas Coryate, Letters

Thomas Dallam, Account of an Organ Carryed to the Grand Seignor

John Rawlins, The Wonderful recovery of the Exchange of Bristow, from the Turkish Pirats of Argier

Edward Terry, A Description of the large Territories under the subjection of the Great Mogol

Cervantes, Don Quixote

Lope de Vega, Las Almenas de Toro

Boccaccio, Decameron

Lodovico Ariosto, Orlando Furioso

Torquato Tasso, Gerusalemme Conquistata

Leo Africanus, A Geographical History of Africa

Abul Fazl, Akbarnama

Suleyman I, poems and letters

Plus a packet of contemporary theoretical, literary critical, and historical readings


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