Topics in Islamic History (HIST*4820)
Code and section: HIST*4820*01
Term: Winter 2019
Instructor: Renee Worringer
This course explores the historiographical complexities involved in studying that segment of the “Orient” known as the Islamic Middle East. Emerging out of circumstances in which the pioneers of Islamic history in the West were biblical, religious specialists, these scholars who explored Islamic civilization in earlier centuries shaped the field dramatically. Their influence can still be felt in today’s often exoticized, objectified Western views of the region and its inhabitants. What affected their views of the Middle East, of Islam, and of Muslim peoples? What is “Orientalism”? Does Orientalism play a role in other fields of non-Western history (i.e. South Asian, Southeast Asian, or East Asian Studies)? We explore Western images that beg questions of agency in representing other peoples and cultures, images which often cloud historical realities and prove difficult to surmount in the present political climate. Hollywood movies and non-neutral news media continue to capitalize on or perpetuate a state of ignorance of and fear towards Islam as an unyielding religion and towards Muslims in general as terrorists. The course will give students a deeper understanding of the myths and realities in today’s portrayals of the region which possess racial, religious, and social stereotypes. Discussion of secondary and primary texts allows students to determine their own approaches to the study of Islamic and/or Asian cultures and civilizations. I ask them to contemplate the possibility of whether or not academic scholarship and Western societies can overcome the politics and social attitudes so deeply inscribed toward the region known collectively as the (Middle) East.
Tentative Method of Assessment:
Book Review (1,000 words) 20%
Mandatory Discussion/Participation 35%
Essay Outline & source list due in class 10%
Final Essay ( 3000 words) 35%
Texts and/or Resources Required:
Zachary Lockman, Contending Visions of the Middle East: The History and Politics of Orientalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).
Please note: This is a preliminary web course description only. The department reserves the right to change without notice any information in this description. The final, binding course outline will be distributed in the first class of the semester.