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Course Descriptions

Islamic World Studies Courses

ISLM 110: Beginning Arabic I

Students will learn to read, write and understand Modern Standard Literary Arabic, and to use the language in basic conversation, including exchanging courtesies, meeting people, asking questions and providing information. No prerequisite. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the Humanities requirement. Under the old GEC, this course meets the Humanities requirement.)
cross listed: ARBC 110


ISLM 112: Beginning Arabic II

Students will continue to learn to read, write and speak basic Modern Standard Literary Arabic in a variety of cultural situations. Prerequisite: ARBC 110 or equivalent. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the Humanities requirement. Under the old GEC, this course meets the Humanities requirement.)
cross listed: ARBC 112


ISLM 210: Intermediate Arabic

Students will advance their knowledge of reading, writing and speaking basic Modern Literary Arabic as well as their understanding of the use of language in cultural context. Prerequisite: ARBC 112 or equivalent. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the Humanities and Global Perspectives requirements. Under the old GEC, this course meets the Humanities requirement.)
cross listed: ARBC 210


ISLM 212: Advanced Intermediate Arabic

Students will continue to advance their knowledge of reading, writing and speaking basic Modern Literary Arabic as well as their understanding of the use of language in cultural context. Prerequisite: ARBC 210 or equivalent. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the Humanities and Global Perspectives requirements. Under the old GEC, this course meets the Humanities requirement.)
cross listed: ARBC 212


ISLM 213: Global Islam

This course explores the origin and development of the Islamic religious tradition, along with varying interpretations of Islamic law and prominent issues facing contemporary Muslims around the world. Participants in the course read classical and contemporary literature as windows into Muslim life in different cultures and historical periods, and view Islamic art and architecture as visual texts. To learn about the rich diversity within Islam, students can work with texts, rituals, poetry, music, and film from a range of cultures within the Muslim world, from the Middle East, Africa, and Asia to Europe and North America. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the Humanities and Global Perspectives requirements. Under the old GEC, this course meets the Humanities and Cultural Diversity requirements.)
cross listed: RELG 213, ASIA 213, IREL 263


ISLM 220: Islam and Pop Culture

In recent decades the global Islamic revival has produced a new generation of Muslim film stars and fashion models, Sufi self-help gurus, Muslim comic book heroes, romance novel writers, calligraphy artists, and even Barbie dolls. This course explores the pop sensations, market niches, and even celebrity scandals of 'Popular Islam' within the broader context of religious identity, experience, and authority in Islamic traditions. Balancing textual depth with geographic breadth, the course includes several case studies: Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Mali, Turkey, and North America. Students will learn about how religious trends are created -- and debated -- on pop culture's public stage. We will reflect critically on both primary materials and inter-disciplinary scholarly writings about the relationships between pop culture, religious identities, devotional practices, and political projects. No pre-requisites. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the Humanities and Global Perspectives requirements. Under the old GEC, this course meets the Humanities and Cultural Diversity requirements.)
cross listed: RELG 220, ASIA 220, IREL 260


ISLM 221: Islam and Science

As an introduction to the relationship between Islam and science from both historical and contemporary perspectives, this course examines the major contributions of medieval Muslim scientists and their influence on modern science. Muslim medieval inventions and advances have shaped Western science for hundreds of years. Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Ibn Al-Haitham (Alhazen), al-Khawarizmi (Algorithmi), and Ibn Rushd (Averroes) were among the many Muslim scientists and philosophers who developed existing disciplines in astronomy, medicine, mathematics, physics, and chemistry, and transferred ancient knowledge from the Middle East, Greece, China, and India to European cultures. The course explores various scientific attempts at an interpretation of the Qur'an and how those attempts shaped the Muslim perception of science in general. The course also touches upon modern debates within Islamic and applied science, particularly in the field of bioethics. Focusing on contemporary controversies, the course examines, for example, attempts by contemporary Muslim scientists and religious scholars to reconcile or disprove the theory of evolution. No prerequisites. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the Humanities and Global Perspectives requirements. Under the old GEC, this course meets the Humanities and Cultural Diversity requirements.)
cross listed: RELG 200


ISLM 222: Introduction to Arab Cultures

This course introduces students to the wealth of literary, artistic and musical cultures in the Arabic- speaking world. Students will learn to describe, contextualize, and analyze representative cultural texts from literature (e.g., poem folk tale) fine arts (e.g., Painting, comics) and popular culture (e.g., popular music, films) and to evaluate how they reinforce, question or subvert nominative construction of gender, ethnicity, race, sexuality and nationalism specific to but not limited to the Arab world. Taught in English. No prerequisites. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the Humanities and Global Perspectives requirements. Under the old GEC, this course meets the Humanities and Cultural Diversity requirements.)
cross listed: ARBC 222, LCTR 222


ISLM 223: Sociology of Islam

This course uses the discipline of historical sociology to explore the origins of Islam and the reasons it took the shape it did during its formative years in mid seventh century. It will continue to trace the development of Islam in a variety of different cultural environment. Finally we will deal with the encounter of Islam and the modern world and the formation of fundamentalism, national Islamism and the secular, reform tendencies in that religion. Not open to students who have already completed SOAN/ISLM 322. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the Social Sciences and Global Perspectives requirements. Under the old GEC, this course meets the Social Science and Cultural Diversity requirements.)
cross listed: SOAN 223


ISLM 225: Islam in America

Muslims have lived in America since at least the early 19th century, and the U.S. is currently home to approximately 3.45 million Muslims. This course explores the origins and history of Muslims living in the US today. Studying the history of African American, immigrant, and convert communities, we address issues of identity, religious practice, integration, and assimilation. The course also examines such contemporary topics as the diversity within religious interpretations and views of Muslim communities, including perceptions of extremism and Islamophobia. Participants look at trends in Muslim-American culture and lifestyle, politics, and gender relations as seen in contemporary social media. No prerequisites. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the Humanities and Domestic Pluralism requirements. Under the old GEC, this course meets the Humanities requirement.)
cross listed: RELG 225, AFAM 225, AMER 212, SOAN 224


ISLM 243: Crusade & Holy War in Med Europe

(Crusade and Holy War in Medieval Europe) Medieval Europe experienced widespread debate about the use of violence by Christians. The course considers early definitions of Just War and the attempts by the church to control violence around the year 1000. Detailed examination of the origin of the idea of crusade and the history of the First Crusade (1095-99) from Christian, Jewish, Greek, and Muslim perspectives. Examines the later medieval phenomenon of crusade against other Christians. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the Humanities and Global Perspectives requirements. Under the old GEC, this course meets the Humanities requirement.)
cross listed: HIST 243, RELG 248


ISLM 255: 21st Century Islam

The 1.5 billion Muslims around the world represent an immense diversity of languages, ethnicities, cultures, contexts and perspectives. This course focuses on 21st century issues faced by Muslims living in different cultures. Contemporary social issues are examined in light of different interpretations of Islamic practice, global communication and social networks, elements of popular culture, and the interface between religion and government. Biographies, short stories, contemporary journalism, and films that explore life in Muslim and non-Muslim countries present a nuanced portrait of contemporary Islam. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the Humanities and Global Perspectives requirements. Under the old GEC, this course meets the Humanities and Cultural Diversity requirements.)
cross listed: RELG 255, ASIA 255, IREL 268


ISLM 259: Immigration in France 1945 to Today

This course will trace France's immigration history from the mid-twentieth century to the present. It will mainly offer an investigation of Muslim immigration and integration in the post-1945 period. Along the way, we will also consider the broader context of immigration (i.e., of national, ethnic, and religious groups other than Muslims to France), the formation and evolution of concepts of French national identity, and the history of French citizenship policy. This course represents a postcolonial approach to the history of France, at the nexus of colonial, immigration, and urban histories. These histories will be studied with a focus on the social, economic, political, and cultural stakes raised by immigration, and the course will consider how some in France have reacted against certain groups of immigrants as antithetical to 'Frenchness'. No prerequisites. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the Humanities and Global Perspectives requirements. Under the old GEC, this course meets the Humanities and Cultural Diversity requirements.)
cross listed: HIST 259, FREN 259, ISLM 224, LCTR 259


ISLM 282: Depicting Difference in Western Art

(Depicting Difference: Images of the Racial and Religious 'Other' in Western Art.) This course will examine how Western cultures visually depicted those they considered different from themselves�those they considered to be 'Other.' We shall investigate European traditions of depicting difference, beginning with Classical Greece and Rome's conceptions of the monstrous races and continuing through to contemporary artistic challenges to stereotypical representations of otherness. While our explorations will range from the Ancient to the Modern world, our course will be particularly focused on the role visual imagery of the 'Other' played in supporting colonialism and Western discourses of cultural superiority in the fifteenth through nineteenth centuries. As this course is focused on how Western cultures depicted those of different racial, religious and cultural backgrounds, it will undoubtedly foster critical analysis and understanding of different races, religions and cultures. No prerequisites. . (Under the old GEC, this course meets the Humanities and Cultural Diversity requirements.)
cross listed: ARTH 282


ISLM 286: Topics in Islamic Art

This course examines the visual arts of early and medieval Islam from the seventh through the thirteenth centuries in Muslim territories, ranging from Central Asia to Spain. Through an examination of diverse media, we shall explore the role of visual arts played in the formation and expression of Islamic cultural identity. Topics will include the uses of figural and non-figural imagery, religious and secular art, public and private art and the status, function, and meaning of the portable luxury objects. No prerequisites. . (Under the old GEC, this course meets the Humanities and Cultural Diversity requirements.)
cross listed: ARTH 286, RELG 286


ISLM 310: Islamic Mysticism

Muslim saints and seekers have performed mystical practices for more than 1300 years in areas stretching from Europe and North Africa to Turkey, Iran, and the Indian subcontinent. Contemporary holy men and holy women continue to teach such mystical practices as the dancing and whirling of dervishes, the up-tempo singing of qawwals in India and Pakistan, and the rhythmic chanting of Arabic verses in Egypt. In this course, we will explore the religious thinking of these holy men and women through their writing, art, and music. Texts will include novels, short stories, allegorical tales, biographies, and films. No prerequisite. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the Humanities and Global Perspectives requirements. Under the old GEC, this course meets the Cultural Diversity requirement.)
cross listed: RELG 310, ASIA 310


ISLM 328: Contemporary France

This course will address current subjects of debate in France and study how France has changed (politically and socially) since its major period of decolonization in the 1950s-60s. Particular attention will be given to France's efforts to integrate immigrants, and specific issues related to French residents of Muslim heritage. Through the reading and discussion of literature and critical essays, as well as viewing current films and internet/satellite news broadcasts, students will gain greater understanding of France's changing identity. Oral and written competence will be enhanced by discussion, debate, presentation, and writing short papers in French. Prerequisite: FREN 212 or equivalent. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the Global Perspectives requirement. Under the old GEC, this course meets the Humanities and Cultural Diversity requirements.)
cross listed: FREN 328


ISLM 330: The French-Speaking World

This course will familiarize students with the history, politics and contemporary culture of various areas of the French-speaking world (such as in Canada, Africa, the Middle East and Western Europe); particular attention will be paid to areas of the French-speaking Islamic World. Topics will vary, and may include discussion of immigration, women's issues, political conflict, changing social and national identity. The course will draw from film, literature, critical materials and contemporary news sources. Prerequisite: French 212 or equivalent. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the Global Perspectives requirement. Under the old GEC, this course meets the Humanities and Cultural Diversity requirements.)
cross listed: FREN 330


ISLM 349: Topics: U.S. Presidents & Jerusalem

Until 1967, the U.S. accepted the international consensus on the issue of Jerusalem, which called for the internationalization of the city according to General Assembly Resolution 181. Also, the U.S. refused to recognize both Israel's annexation of West Jerusalem and Jordan's annexation of East Jerusalem. After the 1967 War, Israel extended its control to Arab East Jerusalem and later declared all Jerusalem its eternal capital. Since then, American presidents have stopped short of pressuring Israel to abide by Resolution 181, arguing instead that the future of Jerusalem should be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians. This course studies the complex history of the positions of modern American presidents on Jerusalem, focusing on how American domestic politics has shaped U.S. policy and the interactions between U.S. presidential administrations and international actors on the status of Jerusalem.
cross listed: IREL 349