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Department of the History of Art and Archaeology

Islam and the West: Artistic and Cultural Contacts

Course Code:
15PARH034
Unit value:
0.5
Taught in:
Term 1

This course enriches the existing range of courses on Islamic art and architecture by considering a wide range of artefacts within the particular perspective of cultural contacts with Europe, examining the ways in which Islamic artefacts were acquired, appreciated, utilized and imitated, and placing them also within the wider framework of the developing European intellectual awareness of Islam.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

At the end of the course the student should:

  • Have a good overall grasp of the artistic phenomena associated with the interaction between Islam and the West.
  • Understand the main issues raised by the art historical discourse surrounding it.
  • Be able to use the knowledge and skills gained to prepare a research profile.
  • Be able to produce effective written and oral presentations on the subject.

Scope and syllabus

This course enriches the existing range of courses on Islamic art and architecture by considering a wide range of artefacts within the particular perspective of cultural contacts with Europe, examining the ways in which Islamic artefacts were acquired, appreciated, utilized and imitated, and placing them also within the wider framework of the developing European intellectual awareness of Islam.
The course does not overlap with any existing courses.

Syllabus:
Week 1 – Trade and booty: Middle Eastern objects in a European context.
Week 2 – Sicily and Southern Italy under Arab domination. Artistic production of Islamic artefacts under the Normans.
Week 3 – Display and transformation: the case of ivories, rock crystals, glass and other objects in the Christian Church
Week 4 – Sign of opulence: Islamic textiles and carpets in the paintings of the Italian masters
Week 5 – The freeing of the motif: Islamic ornament and patterns in Western art
Week 6 – The exotic object as a prototype to be imitated: gilded leather objects, bookbindings, ceramics and textiles
Week 7 – The artefact designed for Western consumption: the so-called “Veneto-Saracenic” metalwork
Week 8 – Western artefacts for Middle Eastern consumption: textiles, metalwork
Week 9 – The intellectual engagement with Islamic art and culture, a humanistic endeavour: the study of Arabic texts, Latin translations and mistranslations.
Week 10 - Museum visit
Week 11 - Slide test

Method of assessment

1 essay of 4,500 words = 75%/ slide test =25%

Suggested reading

  • Allen, T., Five Essays on Islamic Art, U.S.A., 1988.
  • Baer, E., Ayyubid Metalwork with Christian Images, Leiden/New York, 1989.
  • Baker, P. L., H. Tezcan and J. Wearden, Silks for the Sultans, Istanbul, 1996.
  • Behrens-Abouseif, D., “The Baptistère de Saint-Louis: A re-interpretation”, Islamic Art, 1987, pp. 15-26.
  • Brend B., The Emperor Akbar’s Khamsa of Nizami, London, 1995.
  • Carboni, S. and Whitehouse, D., Glass of the Sultans, New York, 2001.
  • Contadini, A., Fatimid Art at the Victoria and Albert Museum, V&A Publications, London, 1998.
  • Coomarsawamy, A., Christian and Oriental Philosophy of Art, New York, n.d.
  • Cott, P.B., Siculo-Arabic Ivories, Princeton, 1939.
  • Dodds, J.D., (ed.), Al-Andalus - The Art of Islamic Spain, New York, 1992.
  • Erdmann, K., “Fatimid Rock Crystals”, in Oriental Art, 3, 1951, pp. 142-46.
  • Al-Faruqi, L., Islam and Art, Islamabad, 1988.
  • Grabar, O., The Formation of Islamic Art, New Haven, 1973
  • Hamilton, A., Europe and the Arab World, London-Oxford, 1994.
  • Hourani, A., Islam in European Thought, Cambridge, 1991.
  • Lewis, B., The Muslim Discovery of Europe, London, 1982.
  • Petrosian Y. (ed.), De Baghdad a Ispahan, Venice, 1994.
  • Raby, J., Venice, Dürer and the Oriental Mode, London, 1982.
  • Rice, D.S., Le Baptistère de Saint Louis, Paris, 1951.
  • Said, E., Orientalism, London, 1978.
  • Sievernick and Budde (eds.), Europa und der Orient 800-1900, Munich, 1989.
  • Ward, R., Islamic Metalwork, London, 1993.