The Iberian Peninsula: Cultures and Religions Through the Arts

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Course Information
Discipline(s): 
Religious Studies
Art History
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Credits: 
3
Language of instruction: 
English
Contact Hours: 
45
Prerequisites: 

None

Description: 

This course aims to apply visual arts techniques to the interpretation of the Spanish and European experience of Islam, both in the past (the eight centuries of Islamic presence in Spain) and in Modern and Contemporary times; therefore, the timeframe of the course goes from the Middle Ages to the 21st Century. The course proposes a historical as well as contemporary approach to the subject in order to analyze the connections between past and present in the European experience of Islam, focusing on moments of conflict, tolerance or coexistence. The classes and course-related excursions will help to analyze the evolution of these relations through the analysis of artistic images, architecture, popular imagery and film.

Learning outcomes: 

By the end of the course, students are able to:

  • apply basic art history tools to analyze historical / cultural facts
  • identify the key moments of the relationship between Europe and Islam
  • distinguish the key features and symbols that appear in the artworks and interpret their meaning
  • describe the different meanings of each visual element according to the class content
  • measure the importance of visual arts in the construction of religious and cultural identities
Method of presentation: 
  • Lectures
  • Class discussions
  • Course-related Excursion
  • Class participation
Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Midterm exam - 25%
  • Final exam - 25%
  • Term paper - 20%
  • Class presentation - 10%
  • Participation - 20%
content: 

Session

Content

Readings

Session 1

Presentation of the course. The birth of Islam.

Recommended film viewing: Empire of Faith, p. 1.

Recommended film viewing: Empire of Faith
Session 2 The birth of Islam and the formation of Islamic Art: What is Islamic Art? Is Islamic Art connected somehow to Islam? Should the category even exist? Blair, Sheila S. and Bloom, Jonathan M. (2003). The Mirage of Islamic Art: Reflections on the Study of an Unwieldy Field. The Art Bulletin, Vol. 85, No. 1. 152-184.
Session 3 Visual Arts Techniques as a Means to Interpreting Cultural Exchange: the Dome of the Rock (Jerusalem), the Great Mosque of Damascus (Syria) and the mezquita of Córdoba (Spain) Ali, Princess Widjan (2006). Islamic Art as a Means of Cultural Exchange.
Session 4 Islamic Art as Seen Throught the Western Eyes I: Unity and Plurality

Grabar, Oleg (2006). What Makes Islamic Art Islamic? In Grabar, Oleg, Islamic Art and Beyond. Aldershot: Ashgate-Variorum. 147-151.

Grube, Ernst J. (1995) What is Islamic Architecture? In Michell, George (ed.) Architecture of the Islamic World. New York, Thames and Hudson, 10 – 14.

Session 5 Islamic Art as Seen Through Western Eyes II: Aniconism, Paganism and Luxury Grabar, Oleg (1987) The formation of Islamic Art. New Haven, Yale University Press: 75 – 103.
Session 6 Islamic Art as Seen Through Western Eyes III: Geometry, Abstraction and Morality Grabar, Oleg (2006) “Islamic Ornament and Western Abstraction”. In Grabar, Oleg, Islamic Art and Beyond. Aldershot: Ashgate-Variorum 81-4.
Session 7 Spain: A Western Country? The Theories of Américo Castro and Sánchez Albornoz Glick, Thomas F. (1995) From Muslim Fortress to Christian Castle: Social and Cultural Change in Medieval Spain. Manchester: Manchester University Press. 1- 14.
Session 8 Al-Andalus: The Blend of Identities in the Iberian Peninsula- Christians, Jews, Muslims, Mozarabes, Moriscos Burckhardt, Titus (1972) Moorish Culture in Spain. London: George Allen & Unwin. 23-30.
Session 9 A Golden Age: the Caliphate of Cordoba

Menocal, María Rosa (2002) The Ornament of the World. How Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain. New York: Back Bay Books. 53-65.

Grabar, Oleg (1992) “Two paradoxes in the Islamic Art of the Spanish Peninsula”. In Jayyusi, Salma Khadra (ed.). The Legacy of Muslim Spain. Leiden: Brill. 583–591.

Session 10

Class debate: The Representation of the Past as a Means to Discuss Current Conflicts

Film Viewing (prior to session): Robert Gardner, prod. Islam Empire of Faith, p.2

 
Session 11 A Case Study of Visual Acculturation: I. The Great Cordoba Mosque

Burckhardt, Titus (1972) Moorish Culture in Spain. London: George Allen & Unwin. 9-20.

Dodds, Jerrylinn (1994) The Arts of Al-Andalus. In Salma Khadra Jayyusi (Ed.) The Legacy of Muslim Spain. Leiden: Brill. 599–620.

Session 12 Course-related excursion: Toledo Overview of Toledo (Lonely Planet)
S
ights in Toledo
Session 13

Islamic Forms in a Christian Context.

1492: Denial of the Past

A New Visual Program for a New Empire

Grabar, Oleg (2006). Islamic Architecture and the West: Influences and Parallels. In Grabar, Oleg, Islamic Visual Culture 1100-1800. Aldershot: Ashgate-Variorum. 381-387.

Cammy Brothers, C. (1994). The Renaissance Reception of the Alhambra: The letters of Andrea Navagero and The Palace of Charles V. Muqarnas, Vol. II. 79 -102.

Session 14 Review Session  
Session 15

Midterm Exam

Session 16

Re-discovery (18th & 19th Centuries): the Ottoman Empire

Napoleon’s Campaigns

Images of Threat

Irving, Washington (2002) Legend of the Three Beautiful Princesses. In Tales of the Alhambra. Granada: Miguel Sánchez. 139-162
Session 17

Class debate: The Artistic Representation of Minorities

Film Viewing (prior to session): Welles, Orson (1952) The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice. USA. Manga Films.

 
Session 18

Orientalism: The Other From a Distance

Said, Edward (1995) Orientalism. London: Penguin Books. 31-49
Session 19 Peer Review Session on Paper writing

Thesis Statements

Lepore, Jill. “How to write a paper for this class” Harvard History Department. September 2009.

Session 20

The Exotic: The Appropriation of the Other

Final Paper Due

De Botton, Alain (2002). The Art of Travel. New York: Vintage Books. 67 -98.
Session 21 Islamic Art in the 20th Century

Grabar, Oleg (2002) The Mosque in Islamic Society Today. In Frishman, Martin & Khan, Hassan-Udin The Mosque. History, Architectural Development & Regional Diversity. London: Thames & Hudson. 242–245.

Ali, Princess Widjan (1992) The Status of Islamic Art in the Twentieth Century. In Muqarnas XI. 186 – 188.

Session 22 Other Visions of Islam in 20th Century Art Esposito, John L. (1999) Clash of Civilizations? Contemporary Image of Islam in the West. In Martín Muñoz, Gema (ed.) Islam, Modernism and the West. London / New York: I.B. Tauris. 94–108
Session 23

New Conflicts and Their Images

Review Session

Said, Edward (1995) Orientalism. London: Penguin Books. 284-293.

Rushdie, Salman (2002) Step Across This Line. Collected Nonfiction. New York: The Modern Library, 2002. 286–288; 336-341.

Session 24 Oral Presentations  

 

Required readings: 
  • Ali, Princess Widjan (1992) The Status of Islamic Art in the Twentieth Century. In Muqarnas XI. 186–188.
  • Ali, Princess Widjan (2006). Islamic Art as a Means of Cultural Exchange. Available: http://www.muslimheritage.com/uploads/Islamic_Art_Means_of_Cultural_Exchange3.pdf Accessed: October 13th 2007
  • Blair, Sheila S. and Bloom, Jonathan M. (2003). The Mirage of Islamic Art: Reflections on the Study of an Unwieldy Field. The Art Bulletin, Vol. 85, No. 1. 152-184.
  • Burckhardt, Titus (1972) Moorish Culture in Spain. London: George Allen & Unwin. 9-20, 23-30.
  • Cammy Brothers, C. (1994). The Renaissance Reception of the Alhambra: The letters of Andrea Navagero and The Palace of Charles V. Muqarnas, Vol. II. 79 -102.
  • Dale, Thomas E. A. (2001) “Monsters, corporeal deformities, and phantasms in the cloister of St-Michel-de Cuxa” in Art Bulletin 83(3):402-36.
  • De Botton, Alain (2002). The Art of Travel. New York: Vintage Books. 67 -98.
  • Dodds, Jerrylinn (1994) The Arts of Al-Andalus. In Salma Khadra Jayyusi (Ed.) The Legacy of Muslim Spain. Leiden: Brill. 599 – 620.
  • Esposito, John L. (1999) Clash of Civilizations? Contemporary Images of Islam in the West. In Martín Muñoz, Gema (ed.) Islam, Modernism and the West. London / New York: I.B. Tauris. 94–108.
  • Glick, Thomas F. (1995)  From Muslim Fortress to Christian Castle: Social and Cultural Change in Medieval Spain. Manchester: Manchester University Press. 1- 14.
  • Grabar, Oleg (1987) The formation of Islamic Art. New Haven, Yale University Press: 75 – 103.
  • Grabar, Oleg (1992) “Two paradoxes in the Islamic Art of the Spanish Peninsula”.  In Jayyusi, Salma Khadra (ed.). The Legacy of Muslim Spain. Leiden: Brill. 583–591.
  • Grabar, Oleg (2002) The Mosque in Islamic Society Today. In Frishman,  Martin & Khan, Hassan-Udin The Mosque. History, Architectural Development & Regional Diversity. London: Thames & Hudson. 242–245.
  • Grabar, Oleg (2006). Graffiti or Proclamations: Why Write on Buildings? In Grabar, Oleg. Islamic Art and Beyond. Aldershot: Ashgate-Variorum. 81-4, 147-151.
  • Grabar, Oleg (2006). Islamic Architecture and the West: Influences and Parallels.In Grabar, Oleg, Islamic Visual Culture 1100-1800. Aldershot: Ashgate-Variorum. 381-387.
  • Grube, Ernst J. (1995) What is Islamic Architecture? In Michell, George (ed.) Architecture of the Islamic World. New York: Thames and Hudson. 10 – 14.
  • Irving, Washington (2002) Legend of the Three Beautiful Princesses. In Tales of the Alhambra. Granada: Miguel Sánchez. 139-162.
  • Lepore, Jill. “How to write a paper for this class” Harvard History Department. September 2009. http://scholar.harvard.edu/jlepore/publications/%E2%80%9Chow-write-paper-class%E2%80%9D
  • Menocal, María Rosa (2002) The Ornament of the World. How Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain. New York: Back Bay Books. 53-65.
  • Rushdie, Salman (2002) Step Across This Line. Collected Nonfiction. New York: The Modern Library, 2002. 286–288; 336-341.
  • Said, Edward (1995) Orientalism. London: Penguin Books. 31-49, 284-293.