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Luisa Nardini, Director MBE 3.602, Mailcode E3100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-2069

Stephennie Mulder

Assistant Professor Ph.D.

MDV 392M • The Islamic City

40261 • Fall 2015
Meets W 1200pm-300pm ART 3.432
(also listed as MES 386 )
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Islam, it has been said, is primarily an urban civilization.  Simultaneously a religion and a way of life, Islam was originally founded in a city, and the rich history of its social and intellectual institutions is virtually unthinkable outside the context of the urban environment. Indeed, perhaps no religion has ever been more closely associated with the city (Arabic, al-madina), both literally, and as a mental and spiritual landscape.  But what is the Islamic city? Is such a term useful when considering a religion that in medieval times spanned three continents, countless urban centers, and had gathered under its aegis people of multiple faiths, ethnicities, and races to form the rich multicultural stew of premodern Islamic civilization?  Furthermore, despite the urban nature of Islamic society, few of the earliest Islamic cities were founded ex nihilo.  To what degree did pre-existing Greek, Roman, and Sasanian city fabrics affect the Islamic cities that grew up in their midst?  Did medieval Islam’s complex and sophisticated social and legal institutions influence the development of an ‘archetypal’ Islamic city?  If so, how did medieval interlocuters view the ‘ideal’ Islamic city?  And in what way was that ideal similar to/different from contemporary European iterations of the medieval city?In this seminar we will explore the morphology and sociology of cities in Islamic history, using primary texts and architectural/archaeological data to identify and analyze the factors shaping civic forms and structures.  We will examine a variety of individual cities, from fiat cities planned by Caliphal decree to those that developed on top of some of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited urban centers.  We will probe how medieval Muslims themselves conceptualized, understood, and represented their cites, both textually and visually.  At the same time, we will critically examine the idea of the “Islamic City” as it evolved in the West, from the earliest observations of nineteenth-century Orientalist scholars and Muslim reformers to contemporary academic formulations.  From the Medina of the Prophet to the early modern madina, we will ask how and why the framework of the Islamic City might still be relevant, over 1400 years after the advent of this world-encompassing faith.

MDV 392M • The Islamic City

40995 • Fall 2010
Meets F 900am-1200pm ART 3.432
(also listed as MES 390 )
show description

This seminar  will explore the morphology & sociology of cities in Islamic history, using primary texts & architectural/archaeological data to identify & analyze the primary factors shaping civic forms & structures.  We will examine a variety of individual cities, from fiat cities planned by Caliphal decree to those that developed on top of some of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited urban centers.  We will probe how medieval Muslims themselves conceptualized, understood, & represented their cites, both textually & visually.  We will also critically examine the idea of the “Islamic City” as it evolved in the West, from the earliest observations of 19th-century Orientalist scholars & Muslim reformers to contemporary academic formulations.  We will ask how & why the framework of the Islamic City might still be relevant, over 1400 years after the advent of this world-encompassing faith. 

 

Texts:

To be provided by the instructor.

 

Grading: 

To be provided by the instructor.

 

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