E 360S l 3-Envisioning Muslims: The Middle Ages and Today
Instructor: Heng, G
Unique #: 35475
Semester: Fall 2016
Cross-lists: MES 342, R S 357, WGS 340
Computer Instruction: No
Prerequisites: Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.
Description: Our course will survey how Muslims are represented in the dominant cultural media of two important periods: the period known in the West as the European Middle Ages—a time in which Europe first became conscious of Muslims through Islamic invasions, multiple forms of cultural contact and negotiation, and the international wars known as “the Crusades”—and in the contemporary world of the 20th and 21st centuries, when Muslims have, once again, become prominent in the Western imagination.
In the medieval period, we will read selections from European chronicles and romances, a Byzantine biography, Arab histories and biographies, and other cultural media, including illustrations and maps, to see how Europeans envisioned Muslims, and how Muslims envisioned themselves. In the contemporary period, we will view clips from digital media representing several genres—silent film, Hollywood action adventure movies, biographies, television comedy, musicals, Disney animation—to see how, and if, modern representations of Muslims differ from premodern representations. We will also view how Muslims represent themselves in digital media, including clips from Youssef Chahine’s “Saladin” and the Axis of Evil comedy tour.
Texts listed here are suggestive, not final. All premodern texts read in modern English translation. Chahine’s “Saladin” has English subtitles.
Texts: (tentative) Selections from Latin crusade chronicles; Autobiography of Usamah; Selections from Arab historians of the crusades; Anna Comnena, The Alexiad; Richard Coer de Lyon; Beha ad-Din, Biography of Saladin; Roman de Saladin; Sultan of Babylon; King of Tars; Ibn Fadlan, Journey to the Rus; secondary readings.
Digital Media: (tentative) The Sheik; Kismet; Aladdin; Lawrence of Arabia; Saladin (Chahine’s); Kingdom of Heaven; The Kingdom; Paradise Now; Caramel; Axis of Evil comedy tour.
Requirements & Grading: Course requirements: a term paper of at least 12 pages (50%), 1 or 2 in-class presentations (30%), attendance (10%) and active participation (10%).