This introductory course explores the art, architecture, and urban planning of the Islamic world, from the origins of Islam in the seventh century C.E. to the contemporary moment. It follows a basic chronology, but is structured primarily around thematic issues central to the study of Islamic visual culture, including, but not limited to: the primacy of the written word, geometry and ornament, optics and perception, sacred and royal space, the image and aniconism, Orientalism, modernity and tradition, and artistic exchange with Europe, China, and beyond. The class will focus on the relationships between visual culture, history, and literature by analyzing cities, buildings, and objects such as the caliphal capitals of Baghdad and Cairo, the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, the palace of the Alhambra in Granada, the Taj Mahal in Agra, the Suleymaniye complex in Istanbul, illustrated manuscripts and photography from Iran, and contemporary art from New York City, alongside primary and secondary texts. Films, audio recordings, and field-trips to local museum collections will supplement assigned readings and lectures. No previous background is presumed, and all readings will be available in English.
Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Assistant Professor Rice.