SOAS University of London

Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts

Art and Material Culture of the Islamic World: 7th to 14th Centuries

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2018/2019
Year of study:
Year 2 or Year 3
Taught in:
Full Year

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course students should have a familiarity with the main aspects of art objects and material culture produced in the Islamic lands during the period 7th to 14th centuries; should be able to identify relevant objects assigning them accurately to their time and place; and should have developed further skills in critical reading and well-structured essay-writing.

Scope and syllabus

The course is concerned with the spectacular achievements in the decorative arts of the Islamic lands from the 7th to the 14th centuries. Art production under the major dynasties of the Umayyads, Abbasids, Fatimids, Ayyubids, Mamluks and Ilkhanids will be studied, including rock crystals, textiles, ceramics, glass, metalwork, woodwork and ivory work, and the relationship between European and Middle Eastern culture and arts will be discussed.

The theoretical issues concerning the aesthetics related to objects will be discussed throughout the course. Account will be taken of the historical and social background and techniques of production.

Part of the course will be dedicated to the important intellectual and art historical phenomenon of the interaction between the Islamic Middle East and Europe. Aspects of appropriation, display, and imitation of Islamic artifacts in Europe will be investigated within the broader context of historical changes in trade and market demand.

Method of assessment

The written exam will count for 70%. 2 pieces of coursework will count for 30% (15% each) towards the final mark.

Suggested reading

  • Atil E., Ceramics from the World of Islam, Washington, 1973.
  • Baer, E., Ayyubid Metalwork with Christian Images, Supplement to Muqarnas IV, Brill, Leiden, 1989.
  • Bloom, J.M. et. al., The Minbar from the Kutubiyya Mosque, New York, 1998.
  • Burnett, C., and Contadini, A. (eds.), Islam and the Italian Renaissance, The Warburg Institute, London, 1999.
  • Carboni, S., Glass from Islamic Lands: The Al-Sabah Collection, New York, 2001.
  • Contadini A, Fatimid Art at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1998
  • Fehérvári, G., Islamic Metalwork from the Eight to the Fifteenth Century in the Keir Collection, London, 1976.

Online course outline.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules