HIS 350L • 34-Medieval Islam: Faith & History-W
3:00 PM-6:00 PM
The course provides an introduction to basic aspects of Islamic history in the context of a series of case studies that analyze primary medieval documents in conjunction with the contemporary literature, film, and documentaries they inspire. The course aim is twofold: to learn about Islamic civilization and culture, but also to note the uses and abuses to which that past has been put in the hands of "creative" genres of literature and film. This includes present documentary forms of history-making. The course charts topical examples of medieval issues that also resonate in the modern period. For example, the case of Islamic religious authority and its interpretations; cultural interaction between Muslims and non-Muslims; and gender.
The key medieval genre of traveler's tales will underscore the methodological emphasis on critical analysis of perspective, narrative, and the tension between history and fiction. Trade, travel, and cultural interaction are pursued through a study of medieval primary documents with emphasis on the interaction between Muslims and other faiths and peoples, including the Jews, Hindus, Vikings, and European Christians. Film transformations traced include the work of Ibn Fadlan (10th c.), an Arab observer, whose vision of the Vikings gave rise to Michael Crichton's modern fiction, THE THIRTEENTH WARRIOR and the Hollywood film version of the same. Documentary standards for history will also be interrogated through the basic presentation of Islam offered in the contemporary basic text, ISLAM: EMPIRE OF FAITH and its PBS-televised version. The complex nature of gender and rule exemplified by the Ottoman harem in scholarship will be compared with its History Channel documentary incarnation.
2 short essays 8-10 pages, 50% 1 independent research paper on themes chosen individually that compare a medieval source and its modern manifestation, 15-20 pages, 40% Class participation and final research presentation to the class, 10%
Abou El Fadl, Khaled. AND GOD KNOWS THE SOLDIERS: AUTHORITATIVE AND AUTHORITARIAN IN ISLAMIC DISCOURSES. Bloom, Jonathan and Sheila Blair. ISLAM: A THOUSAND YEARS OF FAITH AND POWER. Crichton, Michael. THE THIRTEENTH WARRIOR (EATERS OF THE DEAD). Ghosh, Amitav. IN AN ANTIQUE LAND: HISTORY IN THE GUISE OF A TRAVELER'S TALE. Peirce, Leslie, THE IMPERIAL HAREM. Saleh, Nabil. THE QADI AND THE FORTUNE TELLER. Xerox packet of course documents from Custom-Publishing. All on reserve in PCL.