History of the Islamic Middle East, 600-1800
HSTAFM 162, Winter 2016
University of Washington
Instructor: Professor Daniel J. Sheffield
Meeting Time: TTh 1:30–3:20 (SMI 205)
Office Hours: W 1:00–3:00 (SMI 103G)
Teaching Assistant: Gözde Burcu Ege
Office Hours: By appointment (SMI 104C)
This course explores the history of the Islamic Middle East from 600–1800 CE, roughly from the time of Muḥammad and the Arab conquests to Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt and the onset of European colonialism in the Muslim world. In addition to lectures and secondary background readings, students read and discuss samples of key primary texts, with a view to exploring Islamic civilization through the direct voices of the people who witnessed its birth and participated in its creation. After completing the course, students will gain a better understanding of the often fragmentary nature of the sources used to reconstruct early Islamic history, and will be able to discuss in detail the major debates which surround the emergence and formation of Islamicate culture between the Late Antique and Early Modern periods. Questions of historical memory and revisionist history will also be discussed.
By the end of the course, students will be able to:
- demonstrate the use of principles of historical thinking to understand human societies;
- demonstrate a broad yet nuanced understanding of the Islamic world and its role in Western cultural narratives;
- display a critical awareness of the methodological assumptions, theoretical lenses and historical narratives that inform contemporary discourses on the history of the Middle East;
- demonstrate basic skills in the comprehension and analysis of primary sources and their relevance in the context of historical knowledge;
- demonstrate the ability to develop interpretive historical narratives drawing on primary and/or secondary sources;
- develop the digital skills to create and maintain a series of blog posts pertaining to the study of history and Islam;
- write convincing, analytical and thesis-driven papers based on the close reading of an adequate bibliography of primary and secondary sources.
The course consists of two 110-minute meetings per week. Please read the assigned material during the week that it is assigned and come to class prepared to engage with and discuss the readings. Students are expected to attend class regularly and punctually.
During Thursday lectures, the second hour of class will be devoted to discussion of primary sources. Students will be split into two smaller discussion groups. Students are expected to attend each class having read the required readings and prepared material for a thoughtful discussion of them. You must bring the texts and/or your notes to class for discussion. Lack of participation in discussion and/or failure to read the weekly readings will directly and indirectly impact your final grade.
The class will consist of a midterm and a cumulative final examination. There will also be a short map quiz (15 min.) administered at the beginning of class on January 26th.
Over the course of the term, each student is required to create a blog hosted on their Canvas ePortfolio site. The entries in the blog will be developed over the course of the term. Over the course of the term, students will post three blog items of at least 400 words discussing topics of their choosing from the following six categories: City, Object, Event, Building, Person, Work of literature. Video blogs and podcasts are also acceptable in consultation with the Teaching Assistant. Each blog entry should focus on creating a historical narrative relating to the chosen topic rather than being comprehensive (this is not Wikipedia). Students should include images and hyperlinks to sources wherever appropriate.
5%: Map Quiz (January 26)
10%: Participation in Class Discussion
15%: Midterm Examination (February 9)
20%: Islam in World History Blog Portfolio (3 entries, must be complete by March 13 at 11:59 PM)
20%: Two Short Essays (4 pages each, due February 2 and March 1 at 12:00 NOON)
30%: Final Examination (March 18)
- Jonathan Berkey, The Formation of Islam. Cambridge University Press, 2003.
- Ira Lapidus, Islamic Societies to the Nineteenth Century: A Global History. Cambridge University Press, 2002.
All other course readings will be available online on the course website.
Please keep your messages brief, respectful, and to the point. Mention the course number HSTAFM 162 in the subject of your email. We will respond to your email within 48 hours of receiving it. If the subject matter of the email is particularly urgent, please begin the subject line with [URGENT] and we will do our best to respond as soon as possible.
Access and Accommodations:
Your experience in this class is important to us. If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please communicate your approved accommodations to us at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course.
If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), you are welcome to contact DRS at 206-543-8924 or firstname.lastname@example.org or disability.uw.edu. DRS offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and/or temporary health conditions. Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s) and DRS. It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law.
All work must be submitted in a timely fashion. Late submissions will be penalized by a degree of a grade per day (i.e., an A- paper becomes a B+ paper when submitted one day late, a B paper two days late, a B- paper three days late, etc.).
Students who disagree with a grade received should first schedule a meeting with the Teaching Assistant to discuss the reasons for why the grade was assigned. In certain cases, students may request an assignment to be regraded, but they should keep in mind that it is possible that the regrading may result in a lower grade being assigned.
All assignments are to be submitted online on Canvas. Essays are to be double-spaced in 12 point, Times New Roman font with margins not exceeding one inch. In case of technical difficulties, please contact us.
Schedule of Classes
Part One: 600–1300
Week One: Introduction
January 5: What is Islamic about Islamic History? (SLIDES)
Week Two: The Emergence and Expansion of Islam
Readings: Berkey 39–69, Lapidus 39–54.
Week Three: Succession to the Prophet I: The Institution of the Caliphate
January 19: The Caliphate to 900 CE
Readings: Berkey 76–101, Lapidus 55–90
Primary Sources: Letters of the Umayyad Caliphs, trans. P. Crone and M. Hinds.
Week Four: Succession to the Prophet II: The Shīʻa and Sectarianism
Readings: Berkey 111–141, Najam Haider Excerpts from An Introduction to Shīʻism.
Primary Source: Excerpts from The Book of Travels of Nāṣir-i Khusraw, trans. W. M. Thackston.
Week Five: Abbasid Cosmopolitanism
Readings: Berkey 102–110, Lapidus 91–139.
Primary Sources: Excerpts from Ibn al-Sāʻī, Consorts of the Caliphs, trans. S. Toorawa.
Excerpts from Ibn Faḍlan, Journey to the Volga, trans. J. Montgomery.
Part Two: 1300-1800
Week Six: Turks, Mongols, and the Nomadic Legacy
Readings: Lapidus 225–263.
Week Seven: The Ottoman Imperium
February 18: The Muslim Empires in the World Economy (SLIDES)
Readings: Lapidus 431–479.
Week Eight: Millenarianism and Shīʻism in the Persianate World
February 25: The Institution of Twelver Shīʻism in the Safavid Empire (SLIDES)
Excerpts from The History of Shah Abbas the Great, trans. R. Savory.
Week Nine: Islam, Europe, and the Beginning of Colonialism
(SECOND SHORT ESSAY DUE AT 11:59 PM)
Week Ten: Islam in World History
March 8: Islam in the world or an Islamic world-system? (SLIDES)
March 10: Muslim Modernities.