Introduction to Islamic Art and Architecture (Also Near Eastern Studies C121A)
This course introduces the art and architecture of the Islamic world, examining transformations from pre-Islam up to the present. The course explores the main features of the built environment of Muslim communities throughout the Central Islamic lands, Central Asia and Spain with emphasis upon the Umayyad, Abbasid, Fatimid and Seljuk periods. The course explores the range of cultural, political, social and religious aspects related to the development of the visual culture. This involves an examination of the impact of Islam’s encounter with late antiquity and aims to explain the rise of Islamic architecture as a cultural product of this encounter. It also aims to challenge notions of Islamic art as a straightforward synthesis of the art and architecture of the late antique and ancient near eastern world. The development of Islam’s architectural manifestations is cast within the context of the development of its institutions to aid in the understanding of the rise of the seminal building types of Islam. The course begins by introducing the rise of the mosque, the early palace and the shrine during the Umayyad and Abbasid periods within the context of the development of praxis as well as overarching political and cultural shifts. Furthermore it aims to examine the later development of Islamic architecture through a rigorous understanding of the seminal shifts in the development of the culture as a whole within the context of the surrounding polities. The course will also touch upon aspects of the development of the Medieval Islamic city in light of the development of the seminal institutions of palace/citadel, the evolution of the religious complex as well as the economic centers. The course concludes with an assessment of the place of architecture within contemporary Islamic communities.