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Level 5

5AAH1061 European Views of Islam Through the Ages

Credit value: 15
Module convenor/tutor 2018/19: Dr Reza Zia-Ebrahimi
Teaching pattern: 10 x 2-hour seminar (weekly)
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 2 x 2,500 word essay

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

In its overview of how Europeans have viewed Islam, this module engages with a number of themes, particularly orientalism, essentialism and otherisation. It starts with a brief coverage of the medieval views of Islam and how they were affected by increased familiarity with Islam, and later the advent of modern sciences, particularly linguistics, history, racial anthropology and of course orientalism. It then engages with the period of colonialism and traces the legacy of the orientalist corpus in the methodologies of ‘area studies’, before concluding with the current debate on the veil and the ‘Islamisation of Europe’. Students will engage with a range of primary sources to gain proficiency in the intellectual trends that shaped European views of Islam in their historical contexts.

Provisional teaching plan

  1. Introduction: medieval views of Islam       
  2. The study of Islam in early modern Europe             
  3. The Ottomans and Oriental Despotism     
  4. Orientalism, postcolonialism and subalternity
  5. Semites: nineteenth-century science and the racialisation of Muslims
  6. The study of the Middle East in the twentieth century: neo-orientalism and modernisation theory 
  7. Saving Muslim women: gender and the veil
  8. Representation Muslims in literature, media and cinema
  9. The current debate on Islamophobia
  10. The coming Islamisation of Europe?

Suggested introductory reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of these texts is not mandatory.

Cesari, Jocelyne, ed. Muslims in the West after 9/11: Religion, politics and law. Routledge, 2009.

Lockman, Zachary. Contending visions of the Middle East: the history and politics of Orientalism. Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Olender, Maurice. The languages of Paradise: race, religion, and philology in the nineteenth century. Harvard University Press, 1992.

Said, Edward W. Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient. Penguin 1978 (1995).

Salama, Mohammad. Islam, Orientalism and Intellectual History: Modernity and the Politics of Exclusion Since Ibn Khaldun. Vol. 22. IB Tauris, 2011.

Sayyid, Salman, and AbdoolKarim Vakil, eds. Thinking through islamophobia: global perspectives. Columbia University Press, 2010.

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