HSTAFM 162 A: History of the Islamic World, Fifteenth-Eighteenth Centuries

Winter 2023
MW 2:30pm - 4:20pm / MGH 241
Section Type:
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):


History of the Islamic World: 1453 - 1800



In this course we will examine the history of the Islamic World during the Early Modern period. This era is sometimes called the 'Age of Gunpowder Empires,’ because it was marked by the rise of three mighty and advanced Islamic states in Turkey, Iran and India

We will consider the period from three perspectives.

First, we will dig into the history of the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal Empires themselves—tracking their fates across the span of 350 years, from the fall of Constantinople in 1453, through the emergence of modern European imperialism at the end of the eighteenth century. 

Second, our course will move beyond the high-politics of great empires to examine the richer tapestry of Islamic society and culture. As part of this process, we will engage with a range of primary sources that will serve to humanize this history—reminding us that, at core, history is not about states and wars, but about people.

Finally, as we look at Islamic empires and societies, we will also consider how the Islamic world of this period both shaped, and was shaped by, the contours of global history, and at how this period in history still resonates in our modern world today.



  • Stephen Dale, Muslim Empires of the Ottomans, Safavids, and Mughals (2010).
  • Additional readings will be made available via Canvas.



  • Approximately 75-80 pages reading per week
  • Participation grade based on classroom discussions and activities
  • One paper (approximately 1500 words, no independent research)
  • Two exams









Catalog Description:
Examines the history of the Islamic World during the age of mighty empires in Turkey, Persia, and South Asia. Highlights the powerful rulers, vibrant cultures, and human achievements of these states, while also exploring the region's ethnic, linguistic, religious, and sectarian diversity and conflicts. Uses political, social and cultural approaches to engage both the broad sweep and the personal stories of this history. Offered: S.
GE Requirements Met:
Diversity (DIV)
Social Sciences (SSc)
Last updated:
May 25, 2024 - 4:53 am