Department of Middle Eastern Studies
Department of Middle Eastern Studies

Denise A. Spellberg


ProfessorPh.D., 1989, Columbia University

Professor of History and Middle Eastern Studies

Contact

Interests


intellectual history of the medieval Islamic world, from Spain to Iran; Islam in American and European history; gender and religion in history

Biography


Research Interests

My research in intellectual, religious, and gender history focuses on the medieval Islamic world, from Iran to North Africa, and also on Islam and Muslims in early modern and contemporary Europe and the United States. Although my home department at UT is History, I am affiliated with our Programs in Islamic Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, Medieval Studies, American Studies, and Religious Studies. My work is interdisciplinary and comparative, supporting a global approach to Islamic Studies, rather than an area-specific one.

My most recent book, Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders (Knopf, 2013) is being translated into Indonesian, Turkish, and Arabic.

My first book, Politics, Gender, and the Islamic Past (Columbia, 1994), will be re-issued with a new introduction by Columbia Press.

I am currently revising a third book,  ‘A’isha and the Islamic Historical Tradition: A Life, a biography of ‘A’isha bint Abi Bakr, accepted after 2 positive outside reviews by Columbia University Press, about the importance, past and present, of the life of the most controversial wife of the Prophet Muhammad. It is designed for students and reading citizens.

Courses Taught

I teach the first half of the introductory, required course sequence for Middle Eastern Studies undergraduate majors, “Introduction to the Middle East, Religious, Cultural, Historical Foundations, 570-1453” cross-listed with History and Religious Studies. Other courses taught include Islamic Spain and North Africa, Iran to 1800, undergraduate seminars on women of the Prophet’s family, Islam in the History of the U.S., as well as the historiography seminar for the History Honors Program, which I direct. Graduate courses taught include those focused on gender and sacred biography, Islamic historiography, Islam in Europe and America, as well as Islam, narrative, and slavery. I have team-taught courses for Medieval Studies designed to foster approaches to the Global Middle Ages with my colleague in English. Invited by UT’s vice-provost, I served as one of four core faculty for “Difficult Dialogues,” a Ford Foundation (2006-08) grant initiative designed to teach undergraduates how to navigate “hot-button” topics as dialog not debate, with an emphasis on the importance of Academic Freedom. I initiated a course on Islam in America for that program. From 1995-2003, I helped design and teach as core faculty in the Tracking Cultures study abroad program, which traced Islamic and Hispanic cultural precedents from Spain and North Africa to Mexico and the American southwest.

Awards/Honors

            Carnegie Foundation Scholarship (2009-10) awarded in support of my research on Islam and the Founders. Foreign Research Lectureship, École des Hautes Études (EHESS), Centre de Recherches Historiques, Paris, France, (January 2004); NEH (1992-93).

            Grand Prize winner of the 2014 University Co-op Robert W. Hamilton Book Award for Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an, chosen by an interdisciplinary committee of faculty from among the 51 books published at UT Austin from all colleges and fields in the year 2013. “The Hamilton Awards are among the highest honors of literary achievement given for UT Austin authors.” October 15, 2014.

            Writers’ League of Texas Book Awards, Nonfiction Finalist 2013/2014, September 30, 2014.

 

I-CAIR Faith in Freedom Award from the Council American-Islamic Relations, Cleveland, Ohio Chapter, “For promoting a better understanding of the history of religious freedom in America and for writing Muslims back into our nation’s founding narrative through the extraordinary and illuminating scholarly work, Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders,” May 11, 2014.

Dost (“Friend”) Book Prize awarded by the Turkish Women’s Cultural Association, Istanbul, for  Politics, Gender, and the Islamic Past (1994), for “universal contribution to Islamic Studies,” January 2009.

            I have been nominated for 7 teaching awards (1991-2013) at UT and won three others: The Harry Ransom Teaching Award (2006), the Dad’s Centennial Teaching Fellowship (2003), and the President’s Associates Teaching Award for Excellence in History (1996-97).

 

Courses


ISL 372 • History Of Islam In The Us

41445 • Fall 2016
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM GAR 2.128
(also listed as AMS 370, HIS 350R, R S 346)

This course is intended to do three things: provide a brief introduction to Islam; define the role of Islam and views of Muslims in the early history of this country; and introduce students to major issues concerning contemporary American Muslims. The course surveys the presence of Islam in the United States from the colonial era to the twenty-first century through the use of historical documents and contemporary media.

 The course is divided into three sections. The first explores the origins of Islam through primary textual examples. The second section focuses on early American views of Islam in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with an emphasis on the earliest Muslims in the United States. The final section of the course analyzes the diversity of the contemporary American Muslim population. The course is designated as a Writing Flag with a series of assignments designed to improve written communication, including one peer review exercise.

MES 301K • Intro M East: Rel/Cul/Hist Fnd

41725 • Fall 2016
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM GEA 105
(also listed as HIS 306K, R S 314K)

This course surveys the history of the Middle East from the rise of Islam to the end of the fifteenth century. Students will be introduced to basic aspects of the political, social, and cultural dimensions of Islamic civilization from Spain to Iran as they changed over time. In the midst of mapping this broad view, we will focus our attention on how specific historical figures and events contributed to definitions of Islamic identity, community, and authority. Central themes include the emergence of Sunni and Shi`i identities, the relationship of Muslims and non-Muslims, and the unique material and intellectual contributions of Islamic civilization to world history and other societies.

HIS 347L • Seminar In Historiography

38640 • Spring 2016
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM GAR 0.132

SEMINAR IN HISTORIOGRAPHY: HONORS PROGRAM

Open only to students admitted to the History Honors program.

This seminar introduces students to a range of historical methods, topics, and sources, with no claim to being comprehensive. We will consider how “history” has changed along with other forms of knowledge. We will read different kinds of history (social, intellectual, cultural, and so on). We emphasize research with primary sources that students will be able to use in their theses.

Faculty from the Department of History will lead discussions about their areas of expertise, giving the class examples of documents and sources that historians use, or showing how they generate questions for research.  By the end of the semester, each student will have come up with an advisor and a prospectus for the senior thesis she or he will write next year.

This is a reading- and writing-intensive course, and it moves quickly from introductory to advanced work.

 REQUIREMENTS:

1)   preparation for and participation in each weekly seminar, including short writing assignments (40%). Reading is about 200 pages a week.

2)   the various steps in drafting and revising a 10-12 page research prospectus as described below (60%). The preliminary stages of research entail reading at least 10-15 books, review essays, and articles.

You will meet with me individually to consult on your topic a little over halfway through the semester. Short topic statements and bibliography are due a week later. We will spend the last three weeks of class in editorial session: discussing the structure, prose, style, and subject of each prospectus.

PROSPECTUS

         A prospectus is a “description in advance of a proposed undertaking.” It sets out your topic based on preliminary research. It should identify the problem or event that will be investigated, explain why it is important, survey the historical literature on the subject, describe the primary sources you will use, and discuss how you intend to carry out the work.

 The prospectus is not binding; you will certainly change your topic in some way during your senior year, and you may change it entirely. It is nonetheless very important preparation. It also requires substantial background work. I expect you to have looked at and read in at least 10 books, articles, and review essays.

The prospectus should also include a bibliography and four to six photocopied samples of primary sources. You may discuss the usefulness of the sources in either the text of the prospectus or in notes attached to the copies of the sources.

MES 301K • Intro M East: Rel/Cul/Hist Fnd

40875 • Fall 2015
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM UTC 4.134
(also listed as HIS 306K, R S 314K)

This course surveys the history of the Middle East from the rise of Islam to the end of the fifteenth century. Students will be introduced to basic aspects of the political, social, and cultural dimensions of Islamic civilization from Spain to Iran as they changed over time. In the midst of mapping this broad view, we will focus our attention on how specific historical figures and events contributed to definitions of Islamic identity, community, and authority. Central themes include the emergence of Sunni and Shi`i identities, the relationship of Muslims and non-Muslims, and the unique material and intellectual contributions of Islamic civilization to world history and other societies.

 

Texts:

Jonathan A. C. Brown, Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction

Ira Lapidus, A History of Islamic Societies (2nd edition, 2002 only)

D. A. Spellberg, Politics, Gender, and th Islamic Past: The Legacy of 'A'isha bint Abi Bakr

John Alden Williams, ed., The Word of Islam

Xerox packet of documents and articles.

 

Grading:

4 exams @ 25% each = 100%.

MES 385 • Islam In Europe And America

40995 • Fall 2015
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM GAR 1.122
(also listed as HIS 381, R S 390T)

The seminar provides an introduction to the representation of Islam and Muslims in European and American thought from the medieval era to the present. Particular attention will be paid to how Muslims figured in Christian discourses about persecution and religious toleration. Although the European emphasis will focus on Italy, Germany, and Britain, attention will also be paid to the Spanish impact on these questions in both Iberia and South America. Most of the emphasis on “America” in the course, however, implies North America.

Texts:

John Tolan, Saracens

Carlo Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms

Nabil Matar, Islam in Britain, 1558-1685

Ziad Elmarsafy, The Enlightenment Qur'an

Robert J. Allison, The Crescent Obscured

Kambiz GhaneaBassiri, A History of Islam in America

plus xerox packet of primary sources

Grading:

40% First Essay Due, based on class reading 

40% Second Essay Due, based on class reading

10% each student will outline/query and present one or two week’s reading for distribution; their choice.

10% Informed, weekly class participation

HIS 347L • Seminar In Historiography

38600 • Spring 2015
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM GAR 2.112

SEMINAR IN HISTORIOGRAPHY: HONORS PROGRAM

Open only to students admitted to the History Honors program.

This seminar introduces students to a range of historical methods, topics, and sources, with no claim to being comprehensive. We will consider how “history” has changed along with other forms of knowledge. We will read different kinds of history (social, intellectual, cultural, and so on). We emphasize research with primary sources that students will be able to use in their theses.

Faculty from the Department of History will lead discussions about their areas of expertise, giving the class examples of documents and sources that historians use, or showing how they generate questions for research.  By the end of the semester, each student will have come up with an advisor and a prospectus for the senior thesis she or he will write next year.

This is a reading- and writing-intensive course, and it moves quickly from introductory to advanced work.

 REQUIREMENTS:

1)   preparation for and participation in each weekly seminar, including short writing assignments (40%). Reading is about 200 pages a week.

2)   the various steps in drafting and revising a 10-12 page research prospectus as described below (60%). The preliminary stages of research entail reading at least 10-15 books, review essays, and articles.

You will meet with me individually to consult on your topic a little over halfway through the semester. Short topic statements and bibliography are due a week later. We will spend the last three weeks of class in editorial session: discussing the structure, prose, style, and subject of each prospectus.

PROSPECTUS

         A prospectus is a “description in advance of a proposed undertaking.” It sets out your topic based on preliminary research. It should identify the problem or event that will be investigated, explain why it is important, survey the historical literature on the subject, describe the primary sources you will use, and discuss how you intend to carry out the work.

 The prospectus is not binding; you will certainly change your topic in some way during your senior year, and you may change it entirely. It is nonetheless very important preparation. It also requires substantial background work. I expect you to have looked at and read in at least 10 books, articles, and review essays.

The prospectus should also include a bibliography and four to six photocopied samples of primary sources. You may discuss the usefulness of the sources in either the text of the prospectus or in notes attached to the copies of the sources.

MES 301K • Intro M East: Rel/Cul/Hist Fnd

42080 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM UTC 4.134
(also listed as HIS 306K, R S 314K)

This course surveys the history of the Middle East from the rise of Islam to the end of the fifteenth century. Students will be introduced to basic aspects of the political, social, and cultural dimensions of Islamic civilization from Spain to Iran as they changed over time.

In the midst of mapping this broad view, we will focus our attention on how specific historical figures and events contributed to definitions of Islamic identity, community, and authority. Central themes include the emergence of Sunni and Shi`i identities, the relationship of Muslims and non-Muslims, and the unique material and intellectual contributions of Islamic civilization to world history and other societies.

Required Books and Readings:

1. Jonathan A.C. Brown, Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction

2.  Ira Lapidus, A History of Islamic Societies (2002 edition only)

3.  D. A. Spellberg, Politics, Gender, and the Islamic Past: The Legacy of ‘A’isha bint Abi Bakr

4. John Alden Williams, ed. and trans., The Word of Islam

5. Xerox packet of primary documents and articles

Grading:

4 exams @ 25% each = 100%.

 

MES 385 • Islamic Historiography

42222 • Fall 2014
Meets W 4:00PM-7:00PM GAR 2.124
(also listed as HIS 388K, R S 390T)

The course provides an introduction to basic aspects of Islamic historiography before 1500 C.E., with an emphasis on intellectual, political, and religious history. We will study contemporary definitions of the field of medieval Islamic historiography as we look at original texts from the period. A range of genres will be studied in translation, including prophetic biography, biographical dictionaries, chronicle, court manuals, and the first medieval philosophy of history by Ibn Khaldun. Issues such as authenticity, narrative, authorial intent, available evidence, the invisibility of potential past subjects, and silences in historical production will be traced. In the first part of the course, analysis of various forms of prophetic biography will also be considered in contrasting Western incarnations.

The second portion of the course considers new methodological approaches to critical historiographical issues of sectarian origins, political theory, material culture, ritual, and gender.  The object of the final, independent study section of the seminar is to establish enough familiarity with the range of basic sources and materials to focus individuals toward the investigation of their own research interests.

Texts:

All assigned materials are in English, but students who wish to work

in original languages are encouraged to do so, with the proviso that

this is not a class in translation techniques.

Required Texts (SUBJECT TO CHANGE)

Fred Donner, Muhammad and the Believers (2010)

Anver Emon, Natural Right in Islamic Law (2010)

Nerina Rustomji, The Garden and the Fire (2009).

Leor Halevi, Muhammad’s Grave:  Death Rites and the Making of Islamic Society (Columbia University Press, 2007)

Stephen R. Humphreys, Islamic History: A Framework for Inquiry (Princeton University Press, 1991).

Wilferd Madelung, The Succession to Muhammad: A Study of the Early Caliphate (Cambridge University Press, 1997).

Tariq Ramadan, In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of the Prophet (Oxford, 2007).

Chase F. Robinson, Islamic Historiography, (Cambridge University Press, 2003).

Mary Thurlkill, Chosen Among Women: Mary and Fatima in Medieval Christianity and Islam (Notre Dame University Press, 2008)

 Course packet of  primary source readings.

*All books at Co-op for purchase and on reserve in PCL reserves desk

Grading:

Two analytical essays of course readings (6-8 pages): 25% each

One research paper (10-15 pages): 40%

Research proposal, 1-2 pages with preliminary bibliography, not graded

One outline/review of a week’s course reading and a final research

presentation: 10%

Attendance and informed class participation are requisite.

ISL 372 • History Of Islam In The Us

42145 • Spring 2014
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM GAR 2.112
(also listed as HIS 350R, R S 346)

This course is intended to do three things: provide a brief introduction to Islam; define the role of Islam and views of Muslims in the early history of this country; and introduce students to major issues concerning contemporary American Muslims. The course surveys the presence of Islam in the United States from the colonial era to the twenty-first century through the use of historical documents and contemporary media.

 The course is divided into three sections. The first explores the origins of Islam through primary textual examples. The second section focuses on early American views of Islam in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with an emphasis on the earliest Muslims in the United States. The final section of the course analyzes the diversity of the contemporary American Muslim population. The course is designated as a Writing Flag with a series of assignments designed to improve written communication, including one peer review exercise.

Texts:

Robert J. Allison, The Crescent Obscured: The United States and the Muslim World, 1776-1815

Kambiz GhaneaBassiri, A History of Islam in America

Jonathan Brown, Muhammad: A Very Short History

John Esposito, What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam, first edition

John Esposito, Islam: The Straight Path, 4th edition

Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, Jane I. Smith, and Kathleen M. Moore, Muslim Women in America: The Challenge of Islamic Identity Today

Michael Muhammad Knight, Blue-Eyed Devil: A Road Odyssey

Xerox documents in a course packet

All books on sale at the University Co-op and on reserve at PCL

Xerox document packet available at Speedway in Dobie Mall and on reserve at PCL

Grading:

Quiz 10%

First Essay 20%

Second Essay 20%

Biography peer-reviewed first draft, 5%

Biography final version 20%

Final Essay 20%

 

MES 343 • Islamic Spain/N Afr To 1492

42565 • Spring 2014
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WAG 101
(also listed as HIS 375D, ISL 373, R S 345)

This survey course provides an introduction to the Islamic impact on Spain and North Africa. Emphasis will be placed on political, social, and intellectual history. Spain provides a case study for the interactions between Muslims, Christians, and Jews within varied constructs of violence, tolerance, and coexistence. The course includes an emphasis on the diffusion of science and philosophy from Islamic Spain to Western Europe. European ideas about Islam in the medieval period will also be explored.

 

Grading:

First exam: 25%Second exam: 25%Third exam: 25%Last exam (in class): 25%

 

Texts:

J. Brown, Muhammad: A Very Short History.O. Constable, Medieval Iberia. 1997 edition ONLY. Buy used on Amazon.Maribel Fierro, `Abd al-Rahman III: The First Cordoban Caliph.Ibn Khaldun, ed. and trans. Franz Rosenthal, The Muqaddimah.H. Kennedy, Muslim Spain and Portugal. *All readings on reserve in the Perry-Castaneda Library and all but Constable for purchase at the Co-op.

 

MES 301K • Intro M East: Rel/Cul/Hist Fnd

42325 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 5:00PM-6:30PM WAG 101
(also listed as HIS 306K, R S 314)

This course surveys the history of the Middle East from the rise of Islam to the end of the fifteenth century. Students will be introduced to basic aspects of the political, social, and cultural dimensions of Islamic civilization from Spain to Iran as they changed over time.

In the midst of mapping this broad view, we will focus our attention on how specific historical figures and events contributed to definitions of Islamic identity, community, and authority. Central themes include the emergence of Sunni and Shi`i identities, the relationship of Muslims and non-Muslims, and the unique material and intellectual contributions of Islamic civilization to world history and other societies.

Required Books and Readings:

1. Jonathan A.C. Brown, Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction

2.  Ira Lapidus, A History of Islamic Societies (2002 edition only)

3.  D. A. Spellberg, Politics, Gender, and the Islamic Past: The Legacy of ‘A’isha bint Abi Bakr

4. John Alden Williams, ed. and trans., The Word of Islam

5. Xerox packet of primary documents and articles

Grading:

4 exams @ 25% each = 100%.

 

MES 385 • Core Readings In Islamic Stds

42430 • Fall 2013
Meets W 5:00PM-8:00PM GAR 1.134
(also listed as HIS 381, R S 388M)

Islam in Europe and America

 

The seminar provides an introduction to the representation of Islam and Muslims in European and American thought from the medieval era to the present. Particular attention will be paid to how Muslims figured in Christian discourses about persecution and religious toleration. Although the European emphasis will focus on Italy, Germany, and Britain, attention will also be paid to the Spanish impact on these questions in both Iberia and South America. Most of the emphasis on “America” in the course, however, implies North America.

 

 

Texts/Readings

John Tolan, Saracens

Carlo Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms

Nabil Matar, Islam in Britain, 1558-1685

Ziad Elmarsafy, The Enlightenment Qur'an

Robert J. Allison, The Crescent Obscured

Kambiz GhaneaBassiri, A History of Islam in America

plus xerox packet of primary sources

Grading

 

40% First Essay Due, based on class reading

40% Second Essay Due, based on class reading

10% each student will outline/query and present one or two week’s reading for distribution; their choice.

10% Informed, weekly class participation

 

MES 301K • Intro M East: Rel/Cul/Hist Fnd

41675 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 5:00PM-6:30PM WAG 101
(also listed as HIS 306K, R S 314)

This course surveys the history of the Middle East from the rise of Islam to the end of the fifteenth century. Students will be introduced to basic aspects of the political, social, and cultural dimensions of Islamic civilization from Spain to Iran as they changed over time.

In the midst of mapping this broad view, we will focus our attention on how specific historical figures and events contributed to definitions of Islamic identity, community, and authority. Central themes include the emergence of Sunni and Shi`i identities, the relationship of Muslims and non-Muslims, and the unique material and intellectual contributions of Islamic civilization to world history and other societies.

 

Grading:

4 exams @ 25% each = 100%.

 

Required Books and Readings:

1. Jonathan A.C. Brown, Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction

2.  Ira Lapidus, A History of Islamic Societies (2002 edition only)

3.  D. A. Spellberg, Politics, Gender, and the Islamic Past: The Legacy of ‘A’isha bint Abi Bakr

4. John Alden Williams, ed. and trans., The Word of Islam

5. Xerox packet of primary documents and articles

MES 385 • Core Readings In Islamic Stds

41790 • Fall 2012
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM GAR 2.112
(also listed as HIS 388K, R S 388M)

The course provides an introduction to basic aspects of Islamic historiography before 1500 C.E., with an emphasis on intellectual, political, and religious history. We will study contemporary definitions of the field of medieval Islamic historiography as we look at original texts from the period. A range of genres will be studied in translation, including prophetic biography, biographical dictionaries, chronicle, court manuals, and the first medieval philosophy of history. Issues include: authenticity, narrative, authorial intent, available evidence, the invisibility of potential past subjects, silences and conflicts in historical production, as well as the importance of gender as a category of analysis. Historical biography will also be contrasted with contemporary Western fictional incarnations.

The course also considers new methodological approaches to critical historiographical issues of sectarian origins, death rituals, and the afterlife in material culture as well as the phenomenon of medieval Islamic precedents for religious authority and their contemporary impact. The last research section of the seminar allows students to use their familiarity with a range of basic sources to focus on their own scholarly interests by identifying a problem based in the medieval period, but not necessarily limited to it.

All assigned materials are in English, but students who wish to work in original languages are encouraged to do so, with the proviso that this is not a class in translation techniques. 

Course Requirements

Two analytical essays based on assigned course readings (6-8 pages): 25% each

One research paper (10-15 pages): 40%

Research proposal, 1-2 pages with preliminary bibliography, not graded but requisite.

One outline/review of a week's course reading (advance sign-up), weekly participation, and a final research presentation: 10%

Texts/Readings

Readings to be established-

ISL 372 • History Of Islam In The Us

41539 • Spring 2012
Meets W 5:00PM-8:00PM GAR 2.112
(also listed as HIS 350R, R S 346)

This course is intended to do three things: provide a brief introduction to Islam; define the role of Islam and the rights of Muslims in the history of this country; and introduce students to major issues confronting a diverse and dynamic population of Muslim Americans. The course introduces students to the presence of Islam in the United States from the colonial era to the twenty-first century through the use of documents and contemporary media. 

 

Texts

Jamal Elias, Islam.

John Esposito, What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam.

Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, Jane I. Smith, and Kathleen M. Moore, Muslim Women in America: The Challenge of Islamic Identity Today

Jane Smith, Islam in America

Xerox documents

 

Grading

Journal Entries: 10%

Class participation 10%

Quiz 10%

Essay 30%

Biography and Final Essay 40%

MES 321K • Islam Spain/N Africa To 1492

41686 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WAG 214
(also listed as HIS 375D, ISL 373, R S 345)

To be provided by instructor. 

MES 301K • Intro M East: Rel/Cul/Hist Fnd

41525 • Fall 2011
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM UTC 3.112
(also listed as HIS 306K, R S 314)

Course Description and Goals

This course surveys the history of the Middle East from the rise of Islam to the end of the fifteenth century. Students will be introduced to basic aspects of the political, social, and cultural dimensions of Islamic civilization from Spain to Iran as they changed over time. In the midst of mapping this broad view, we will focus our attention on how specific historical figures and events contributed to definitions of Islamic identity, community, and authority. Central themes include the emergence of Sunni and Shi`i identities, the relationship of Muslims and non-Muslims, and the unique material and intellectual contributions of Islamic civilization to world history and other societies. 

An overarching goal of this course is to focus attention on the history of the Middle East in this formative phase as a fascinating, complicated, and enriching study in its own right. In order to do this, students will be expected to master key terms and concepts of the period. The intent of all essay exams is to hone analytical skills and written expression. 

Course Rules

It will be my pleasure to meet with you throughout the semester, whether you have a question about the course or simply to make your acquaintance and facilitate your learning experience at this University. 

I am available during office hours and by appointment. Teaching assistants will also hold office hours. You may not reproduce verbatim notes or tapes of my lectures anywhere, in any form.

I will attempt to make this an informative and enjoyable class, but your participation is essential to complete your own intellectual development. I will not require your attendance in class (freewill in adults is a beautiful thing), but unexcused absences will not result in the recapitulation of a lecture by the instructor or teaching assistants. 

*Religious observances are always understood as excused absences. 

*Students with disabilities should consult me at the beginning of the semester.   

*Class handouts and assignment sheets due to any absence will always be supplied. Attendance will be taken at exams. 

*Do not breach the University’s Honor Code; re-read it. 

In order to succeed in this class, you will need to learn all the reading material assigned on the syllabus, delivered in lectures, and discussed in class. All exams and other written assignments are due on the dates stipulated on the syllabus. 

There will be no make-up exams without consent of the instructor. (Only medical emergencies or catastrophic events will warrant consideration.) Emails simply alerting me to your absence without discussion or documentation are not acceptable. 

 

Course Requirements

4 exams @ 25% each = 100%.

 

Required Books and Readings:

1. Hugh Kennedy, When Baghdad Ruled the Muslim World: The Rise and Fall of Islam’s Greatest Dynasty. 

2. John A. Williams, The Word of Islam.

2. Ira Lapidus, A History of Islamic Societies.

3. Xerox packet of documents             

Books available for purchase at the University Co-op, but cheaper online. Two course xerox packets available for purchase at Speedway (Dobie Mall). Everything is on reserve at the Perry Castaneda Library.

 

Part One:

Religion and Politics

I.  Course Objectives and the Middle East before Islam

Readings:  Lapidus, xviii-9.

II. The Advent of Islam

     Readings:  Lapidus, 10-30.

III. The Prophet

Readings: 

“The Covenant” 

IV. The Caliphs: Succession and Conquest

Readings:  Lapidus, 31-47. 

Course packet, “`A’isha bint Abi Bakr.” 

V. The First Islamic Empire: The Umayyad Dynasty at Damascus

Readings:  Lapidus, 47-51. Course packet, “The Pact of `Umar,” and “How the Jizya Is To Be Collected…” 

 

Part Two:

Social Change and the Rise of Islamic Culture

VI. Cosmopolitan Islam and Conversion: The Abbasid Empire at Baghdad     

Readings: Lapidus,  51-66.  

Kennedy, 1-159; Course packet, “Amin and Ma’mun as Children,” “The Succession,” “Zubaida’s Opinion,” “Rashid’s Pilgrimage,” and “Amin’s Head.”

VII. The Separation of Mosque and State 

Readings:  Lapidus, 67-111; 134-152.

Kennedy, 160-296; Course packet, “New Capital of Samarra.” 

VIII. Philosophy and Mysticism  

Readings: Lapidus, 156-193.

IX. Buyid Shi`I and Saljuk Sunni Dynasties at Baghdad 

Readings:   Lapidus, 112-132; 149-155.

     Course packet, Nizam al-Mulk, “On the Subject of Those Who Wear the Veil.”

X.  Shi`ism in Egypt and the Impact of the Crusades

     Readings:  Lapidus, 94-98; 133-152; 283-294. 

   Course Packet, Usamah ibn Munqidh, “An Appreciation of the Frankish Character,” Sicily,” and  Fareed Zakaria, “In Search of the Real New Iraq.” (2005)   

XI. The Mongol Invasion

Readings:   Lapidus, 226-234.

Course packet, “The Coming of the Mongols,” “The Last Caliph of Baghdad,” “The Fall of Baghdad (1258),” “The Battle of `Ayn Jalut,” “Timur and His Historian.”

 

Part Three:

New Empires and Contacts with the West

XII.  Islamic Spain [***Third Exam]

Readings: Lapidus, 299-336.

XIII. The Conversion of Iran to Shi`ism

Readings: Lapidus, 234-247.

XIV. The Sunni Ottoman Empire

Readings:  Lapidus, 197-225; 248-282; 294-298.

XV. Islam in 18th- Century Western Thought [Fourth Exam (in-class)]   Course packet, Kevin J. Hayes, How Thomas Jefferson

MES 385 • Islam In Europe And America

41617 • Fall 2011
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM GAR 0.132
(also listed as HIS 381, R S 390T)

Course Description: 

The course is an introduction to Islam as a fixture in both European and American history, with an emphasis on Western representations of the faith and its practitioners. The course explores European views of Islam in their medieval, pre-modern, and contemporary incarnations.  It focuses on how those precedents were adopted in colonial America and adapted in the United States. 

           The course also considers the challenges faced by contemporary Muslims in Europe and the United States with reference to race, gender, rights and pluralism.  Independent research on topics congruent with the aims of the course will be shared at the conclusion of the class.    

 

Schedule of Assignments

Book outline and class participation, 10%. 

Analytical essay, 40%. (6-8 pages) 

Preliminary research proposal/bibliography due (2 pages). 

Final Research Paper, 50% (15-20 pages)

                           

Required Reading (not a complete list)

Robert J. Allison, The Crescent Obscured: The United States

and the Muslim World, 1776-1815

Kambiz GhaneaBassiri, A History of Islam in America 

Michael A. Gomez, Black Crescent 

Yvonne Haddad, Jane Smith, and Kathleen Moore, Muslim Women in America

Giles Kepel, Allah in the West.

Ziad Elmarsafy, The Enlightenment Qur’an

Tariq Ramadan, Western Muslims and the Future of Islam.

Jane Smith, Islam in America, 2nd edition. 

John Tolan, Saracens: Islam in the Medieval European Imagination.

Packet of documents

 All texts on reserve in PCL. 

 

I.   Introduction and Objectives 

II.  Medieval European Depictions of Islam  

III. Premodern European Depictions of Islam 

IV. Western Translations of the Qur’an 

Elmarsafy, Enlightenment Qu’ran

V.  Islam in Contemporary Europe: Race and Ethnicity  

Kepel. Allah in the West.

VI. America’s Earliest Encounters with the Middle East

Allison, The Crescent Obscured 

GhaneaBassiri, History of Islam in America, 1-164

VII. The Earliest American Muslims and Their Legacy 

Gomez, Black Crescent

(Analytical essay due)

VIII. Islam in Contemporary America 

Smith, Islam in America.  

(Research proposal and preliminary bibliography due)

IX. Gender Issues

Haddad, Smith, and Moore, Muslim Women

XI  Contemporary Challenges in Europe and the U.S.     

GhaneaBassiri, History of Islam in America, 165-end

Ramadan, Western Muslims and the Future of Islam

XII.  Research Period : Class does not meet; paper consultations  

XIII. Research Period 

XIV. Paper presentations

XV.  Paper presentations  (Final paper due)

ISL 372 • History Of Islam In The Us

41917 • Spring 2011
Meets T 5:00PM-8:00PM GAR 0.120
(also listed as HIS 350R, R S 346)

350R

This course is intended to do three things: provide a brief introduction to Islam; define the role of Islam and the rights of Muslims in the history of this country; and introduce students to major issues confronting a diverse and dynamic population of Muslim Americans. The course introduces students to the presence of Islam in the United States from the colonial era to the twenty-first century through the use of documents and contemporary media. 

 

Texts

Jamal Elias, Islam.

John Esposito, What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam.

Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, Jane I. Smith, and Kathleen M. Moore, Muslim Women in America: The Challenge of Islamic Identity Today

Jane Smith, Islam in America

Xerox documents

 

Grading

Journal Entries: 10%

Class participation 10%

Quiz 10%

Essay 30%

Biography and Final Essay 40%

 

MES 381 • Islamic Historiography

42210 • Spring 2011
Meets W 6:00PM-9:00PM GAR 1.134
(also listed as HIS 388K)

The course provides an introduction to basic aspects of Islamic

historiography before 1500 C.E., with an emphasis on intellectual,

political, and religious history. We will study contemporary

definitions of the field of medieval Islamic historiography as we look

at original texts from the period.

A range of genres will be studied in translation, including prophetic

biography, biographical dictionaries, chronicle, court manuals, and the

first medieval philosophy of history by Ibn Khaldun. Issues such as

authenticity, narrative, authorial intent, available evidence, the

invisibility of potential past subjects, and silences in historical

production will be traced. In the first part of the course, analysis of

various forms of prophetic biography will also be considered in

contrasting Western incarnations.

  The second portion of the course considers new methodological

approaches to critical historiographical issues of sectarian origins,

political theory, material culture, ritual, and gender.

The object of the final, independent study section of the seminar is to

establish enough familiarity with the range of basic sources and

materials to focus individuals toward the investigation of their own

research interests.

   All assigned materials are in English, but students who wish to work

in original languages are encouraged to do so, with the proviso that

this is not a class in translation techniques.

Required Texts (SUBJECT TO CHANGE)

Fred Donner, Muhammad and the Believers (2010)

Anver Emon, Natural Right in Islamic Law (2010)

Nerina Rustomji, The Garden and the Fire (2009).

Leor Halevi, Muhammad’s Grave:  Death Rites and the Making of Islamic Society (Columbia University Press, 2007)

Stephen R. Humphreys, Islamic History: A Framework for Inquiry (Princeton University Press, 1991).

Wilferd Madelung, The Succession to Muhammad: A Study of the Early Caliphate (Cambridge University Press, 1997).

Tariq Ramadan, In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of the Prophet (Oxford, 2007).

Chase F. Robinson, Islamic Historiography, (Cambridge University Press, 2003).

Mary Thurlkill, Chosen Among Women: Mary and Fatima in Medieval Christianity and Islam (Notre Dame University Press, 2008)

 Course packet of  primary source readings.

*All books at Co-op for purchase and on reserve in PCL reserves desk

Grading

Two analytical essays of course readings (6-8 pages): 25% each

One research paper (10-15 pages): 40%

Research proposal, 1-2 pages with preliminary bibliography, not graded

One outline/review of a week’s course reading and a final research

presentation: 10%

Attendance and informed class participation are requisite.

HIS 306K • Intro M East: Rel/Cul/Hist Fnd

39725 • Spring 2008
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM UTC 3.110

This course surveys the history of the Middle East from the rise of Islam to the end of the fifteenth century. Students will be introduced to basic aspects of the political, social, and cultural dimensions of Islamic civilization.

HIS 306N • Difficult Dialog:islam In Amer

39735 • Spring 2008
Meets W 2:00PM-5:00PM FAC 4

 

 

HIS 388K • Islamic Historiography

40515 • Spring 2008
Meets TH 6:00PM-9:00PM GAR 1.134

This class is designed for graduate students of the non-Western world with the Middle East serving as a canvas for examining a broad array of methodological, theoretical and historiographical concerns. By critically reviewing recent scholarship on the Middle East in the fields of political science, history, international relationship and intellectual history this course hopes to introduce graduate students to the professional study of the Middle East. The idea is to aid prospective scholars of the non-Western world such as Latin America, Africa and the Far East in gaining an understanding of the history of their craft, of current professional debates and of ongoing historiographical trends and fashions. Specifically, the course will assist students to define their topic of interest and frame it as an MA thesis or a PhD dissertation. To achieve this goal we will critically review various historiographical traditions and debates while at the same time introduce the students to modern historical realities in Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon and Yemen. 

Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

 

 

AHC 330 • Islam Spain/N Africa To 1492

31840 • Spring 2007
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM PAR 203

AHC 330 Topics in Premodern History:

Topics in premodern history with emphasis on regions outside of the ancient Mediterranean world.

HIS 306N • Difficult Dialog:islam In Amer

39215 • Spring 2007
Meets T 2:00PM-5:00PM FAC 419

 

 

HIS 388K • Islamic Historiography

39990 • Spring 2007
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM MEZ 1.120

This class is designed for graduate students of the non-Western world with the Middle East serving as a canvas for examining a broad array of methodological, theoretical and historiographical concerns. By critically reviewing recent scholarship on the Middle East in the fields of political science, history, international relationship and intellectual history this course hopes to introduce graduate students to the professional study of the Middle East. The idea is to aid prospective scholars of the non-Western world such as Latin America, Africa and the Far East in gaining an understanding of the history of their craft, of current professional debates and of ongoing historiographical trends and fashions. Specifically, the course will assist students to define their topic of interest and frame it as an MA thesis or a PhD dissertation. To achieve this goal we will critically review various historiographical traditions and debates while at the same time introduce the students to modern historical realities in Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon and Yemen. 

Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

 

 

HIS 306K • Intro M East: Rel/Cul/Hist Fnd

40125 • Fall 2006
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM WAG 101

This course surveys the history of the Middle East from the rise of Islam to the end of the fifteenth century. Students will be introduced to basic aspects of the political, social, and cultural dimensions of Islamic civilization.

AHC 330 • Islam Spain/N Africa To 1492

30905 • Spring 2006
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM GEO 2.218

AHC 330 Topics in Premodern History:

Topics in premodern history with emphasis on regions outside of the ancient Mediterranean world.

HIS 350L • Islam In Europe And America-W

38860 • Spring 2006
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM MEZ 1.120

Lectures, discussion, reading, and research on selected topics in the field of history.

May be repeated for credit when the topics vary.

Designed for History majors. 

History 350L and 350R may not both be counted unless the topics vary.

Course carries Writing flag. 

HIS 306K • Intro M East: Rel/Cul/Hist Fnd

38105 • Fall 2005
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM UTC 3.110

This course surveys the history of the Middle East from the rise of Islam to the end of the fifteenth century. Students will be introduced to basic aspects of the political, social, and cultural dimensions of Islamic civilization.

HIS 388K • Islamic Historiography

38915 • Fall 2005
Meets T 4:00PM-7:00PM GAR 205

This class is designed for graduate students of the non-Western world with the Middle East serving as a canvas for examining a broad array of methodological, theoretical and historiographical concerns. By critically reviewing recent scholarship on the Middle East in the fields of political science, history, international relationship and intellectual history this course hopes to introduce graduate students to the professional study of the Middle East. The idea is to aid prospective scholars of the non-Western world such as Latin America, Africa and the Far East in gaining an understanding of the history of their craft, of current professional debates and of ongoing historiographical trends and fashions. Specifically, the course will assist students to define their topic of interest and frame it as an MA thesis or a PhD dissertation. To achieve this goal we will critically review various historiographical traditions and debates while at the same time introduce the students to modern historical realities in Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon and Yemen. 

Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

 

 

AHC 330 • Islam Spain/N Africa To 1492

29545 • Spring 2005
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WAG 201

AHC 330 Topics in Premodern History:

Topics in premodern history with emphasis on regions outside of the ancient Mediterranean world.

HIS 350L • Islam In Europe And America-W

37320 • Spring 2005
Meets TH 3:30PM-6:30PM GAR 111

Lectures, discussion, reading, and research on selected topics in the field of history.

May be repeated for credit when the topics vary.

Designed for History majors. 

History 350L and 350R may not both be counted unless the topics vary.

Course carries Writing flag. 

AHC 310 • Intro M East: Rel/Cul/Hist Fnd

30100 • Fall 2004
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM UTC 3.112
(also listed as HIS 306K)

AHC 310 Introductory Surveys in Premodern History:

Introductory survey of premodern history with emphasis on regions outside of the ancient Mediterranean world.

HIS 306K • Intro M East: Rel/Cul/Hist Fnd

36155 • Fall 2003
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM UTC 3.112

This course surveys the history of the Middle East from the rise of Islam to the end of the fifteenth century. Students will be introduced to basic aspects of the political, social, and cultural dimensions of Islamic civilization.

HIS 350L • Medieval Islam: Faith & Hist-W

36690 • Fall 2003
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM GAR 5

Lectures, discussion, reading, and research on selected topics in the field of history.

May be repeated for credit when the topics vary.

Designed for History majors. 

History 350L and 350R may not both be counted unless the topics vary.

Course carries Writing flag. 

HIS 388K • Islamic Historiography

36010 • Spring 2003
Meets W 12:00PM-3:00PM GAR 205

This class is designed for graduate students of the non-Western world with the Middle East serving as a canvas for examining a broad array of methodological, theoretical and historiographical concerns. By critically reviewing recent scholarship on the Middle East in the fields of political science, history, international relationship and intellectual history this course hopes to introduce graduate students to the professional study of the Middle East. The idea is to aid prospective scholars of the non-Western world such as Latin America, Africa and the Far East in gaining an understanding of the history of their craft, of current professional debates and of ongoing historiographical trends and fashions. Specifically, the course will assist students to define their topic of interest and frame it as an MA thesis or a PhD dissertation. To achieve this goal we will critically review various historiographical traditions and debates while at the same time introduce the students to modern historical realities in Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon and Yemen. 

Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

 

 

HIS 350L • Medieval Islam: Faith & Hist-W

35630 • Spring 2002
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM BEN 204

Lectures, discussion, reading, and research on selected topics in the field of history.

May be repeated for credit when the topics vary.

Designed for History majors. 

History 350L and 350R may not both be counted unless the topics vary.

Course carries Writing flag. 

HIS 388K • Islamic Historiography

36960 • Fall 2001
Meets W 12:00PM-3:00PM GAR 107

This class is designed for graduate students of the non-Western world with the Middle East serving as a canvas for examining a broad array of methodological, theoretical and historiographical concerns. By critically reviewing recent scholarship on the Middle East in the fields of political science, history, international relationship and intellectual history this course hopes to introduce graduate students to the professional study of the Middle East. The idea is to aid prospective scholars of the non-Western world such as Latin America, Africa and the Far East in gaining an understanding of the history of their craft, of current professional debates and of ongoing historiographical trends and fashions. Specifically, the course will assist students to define their topic of interest and frame it as an MA thesis or a PhD dissertation. To achieve this goal we will critically review various historiographical traditions and debates while at the same time introduce the students to modern historical realities in Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon and Yemen. 

Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

 

 

HIS 350L • Women In Medieval Islam Hist-W

35565 • Spring 2001
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM PAR 303

Lectures, discussion, reading, and research on selected topics in the field of history.

May be repeated for credit when the topics vary.

Designed for History majors. 

History 350L and 350R may not both be counted unless the topics vary.

Course carries Writing flag. 

HIS 306K • Intro M East: Rel/Cul/Hist Fnd

35825 • Fall 2000
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WAG 420

This course surveys the history of the Middle East from the rise of Islam to the end of the fifteenth century. Students will be introduced to basic aspects of the political, social, and cultural dimensions of Islamic civilization.

HIS 388K • Islamic Historiography

36555 • Fall 2000
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM GAR 107

This class is designed for graduate students of the non-Western world with the Middle East serving as a canvas for examining a broad array of methodological, theoretical and historiographical concerns. By critically reviewing recent scholarship on the Middle East in the fields of political science, history, international relationship and intellectual history this course hopes to introduce graduate students to the professional study of the Middle East. The idea is to aid prospective scholars of the non-Western world such as Latin America, Africa and the Far East in gaining an understanding of the history of their craft, of current professional debates and of ongoing historiographical trends and fashions. Specifically, the course will assist students to define their topic of interest and frame it as an MA thesis or a PhD dissertation. To achieve this goal we will critically review various historiographical traditions and debates while at the same time introduce the students to modern historical realities in Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon and Yemen. 

Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

 

 

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