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ArtH 247: Syllabus
Wellesley College
Professor Lamia Balafrej
[email protected]
ISLAMIC ART AND ARCHITECTURE, 650-1500
Course Description
The course provides a thematic chronological survey of Islamic art and architecture from
their inception around 650 C.E. to the dawn of the modern empires in 1500 C.E.
While stylistic and technical studies have often dominated the field of Islamic art, this
course, in constrast, explores the social agency of Islamic artifacts. It seeks to bridge
Islamic art and social history, in order to uncover the dynamics between things and
users or viewers in specific social settings. We will look at the use of early Islamic
monuments as stages for religious, political and disciplinary spectacles, at the
exchange of portable objects designed as gifts and commodities, at the female
patronage of religious buildings, among other things.
Class Topics And Readings
1/ FROM LATE ANTIQUE TO ISLAMIC: THE DOME OF THE ROCK I
Readings:
Richard Ettinghausen, Oleg Grabar, and Marilyn Jenkins-Madina, Islamic Art and
Architecture 650-1250 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001), 2-20.
Oleg Grabar, The Shape of the Holy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996),
chapter 1.
2/ ISLAM, ICONOCLASM, IDOLATRY: THE DOME OF THE ROCK II
Readings:
Finbarr B. Flood, “Christian Mosaics in Jordan and Early Islamic Palestine: A Case of
Regional Iconoclasm”, and cat. entry no. 79, in Byzantium and Islam: Age of
Transition, ed. Helen Evans (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012).
Grabar, The Shape of the Holy, 56-65 (“The Inscriptions”).
3/ COMMEMORATING THE PROPHET: THE DOME OF THE ROCK III
Readings:
Amikam Elad, “Why Did ‘Abd al-Malik Build the Dome of the Rock?” in Bayt al1
Maqdis Part One, ed. Julian Raby and Jeremy Johns (Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 1992), 33-38.
Finbarr B. Flood, review of Oleg Grabar, The Dome of the Rock (Cambridge, Mass.,
2006), Journal of Palestine Studies 38/4 (2009), 113-15.
Finbarr B. Flood, “Light in Stone: the Commemoration of the Prophet in Umayyad
Architecture,” in Bayt al-Maqdis Part Two, ed. Jeremy Johns (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1999), 311-59.
Byzantium and Islam, ed. Helen Evans (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012),
cat. no. 186, p. 264.
4/ THE GREAT MOSQUE OF DAMASCUS
Reading:
Finbarr B. Flood, The Great Mosque of Damascus (Boston, Leiden: Brill, 2001), 15-56.
5/ THE AESTHETICS OF WONDER: ABBASID ART AND ARCHITECTURE
Readings:
Ettinghausen, Grabar and Jenkins-Madina, Islamic Art and Architecture, 51-53.
Guy Le Strange, “A Greek Embassy to Baghdād in 917 A.D.”, in The Journal of the
Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (Jan., 1897), 35-45.
Matthew D. Saba, “Abbasid Lusterware and the Aesthetics of ‘Ajab”, Muqarnas 29
(2012).
6/ MONUMENT, ORNAMENT AND MEMORY: SAMARRA
Readings:
Ettinghausen, Grabar and Jenkins-Madina, Islamic Art and Architecture,, 54-59.
Alastair Northedge, The Historical Topography of Samarra (London: British School of
Archaeology in Iraq, 2005), 247-59.
Muhammad ibn Jarîr al-Tabari, Ta’rîkh al-Rusul wa’l-muluk (Leiden, 1881), III:1230-1.
Translated to English by C. E. Bosworth in the History of al-Tabarî, volume XXXIII:
Storm and Stress along the Northern Frontiers of the ‘Abbâsid Caliphate (Albany,
NY, 1991), 85-88.
Julie Scott Meisami, “The Palace-Complex as Emblem. Some Samarran Qaṣīdas,” in A
Medieval Islamic City Reconsidered: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Samarra, ed.
Chase F. Robinson (Oxford, 2001).
7/ THE BLUE QUR’AN
Reading:
Alain George, “Calligraphy, Colour and Light in the Blue Qur’an.” Journal of Qur’anic
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Studies 11, no. 1 (April 1, 2009), 75-125.
8/ THE UMAYYAD GREAT MOSQUE AT CORDOBA
Readings:
Jerrilynn D. Dodds, Architecture and ideology in early Medieval Spain (University Park:
London, 1990), 94-109.
Nuha N. N. Khoury, “The Meaning of the Great Mosque at Cordoba in the Tenth
Century,” Muqarnas 13 (1996), 80-98.
9/ IVORY PORTABLE OBJECTS FROM CALIPHAL IBERIA
Reading:
Francisco Prado-Vilar, “Circular Visions of Fertility and Punishment: Caliphal Ivory
Caskets from al-Andalus”, Muqarnas 14 (1997), 19-41.
10/ CEREMONIAL IN THE CITY: FATIMID CAIRO, 969-1060
Reading:
Paula Sanders, Ritual, politics, and the city in Fatimid Cairo (Albany, State University of
New York Press, 1994), 52-67.
11/ GIFT EXCHANGE AND DIPLOMACY: FATIMID EGYPT AND
BYZANTIUM
Readings:
Jonathan Bloom, “Fatimid Gifts,” in Gifts of the Sultan: the arts of giving at the Islamic
courts, ed. Linda Komaroff (Los Angeles: LACMA, 2011), 95-110.
Avinoam Shalem, “Performance of the object,” in Gifts of the Sultan,111-113.
12/ SAMANID CERAMICS AND LITERARY CULTURE
Reading:
Oya Pancaroglu, “Serving Wisdom: The Contents of Samanid
Epigraphic Pottery,” in Studies in Indian and Islamic Art, ed. Rochelle L. Kessler
(Harvard University Art Museums, 2002), 59-68.
13/ THE GREAT SELJUKS OF IRAN: THE GREAT MOSQUE AT ISFAHAN
Reading:
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Oleg Grabar, The Great Mosque of Isfahan (London: Tauris, 1990), 43-60.
14/ NARRATIVE REPRESENTATIONS ON IRANIAN SELJUK CERAMICS,
12TH-13TH CENT
Reading:
Renata Holod, “Event and Memory: The Freer Gallery’s Siege Scene Plate,” Ars
Orientalis 42 (2012), 194–219.
15/ THE ARTS OF THE ARABIC BOOK: “THE ASSEMBLIES” (MAQAMAT)
Reading:
Alain George, “Orality, Writing and the Image in the Maqamat: Arabic Illustrated Books
in Context.” Art History 35, no. 1 (2012), 10-37.
Facsimile of the 1237 Maqamat by al-Wasiti, browse:
http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b8422965p.r=Arabe+5847.langEN
16/ MONUMENTAL QUR’ANS IN ILKHANID SHRINES
Readings:
Sheila Blair and Jonathan Bloom, The Art and Architecture of Islam 1250-1800 (New
Haven: Yale University Press, 1994), 5-10, 24-25.
David James, Qur’ans of the Mamluks (London: Alexandria, Thames and Hudson, 1988),
76-108, 111-126, cat. no. 40, 42, 45.
17/ ILKHANID VISUAL CULTURE, BETWEEN CHINA AND IRAN
Reading:
The Legacy of Genghis Khan, ed. Linda Komaroff and Stefani Carboni, 2002, pp. 168195, 150-167.
18/ TIMUR: BETWEEN PORTABLE AND PERMANENT ARCHITECTURE
Readings:
Blair and Bloom, The Art and Architecture of Islam 1250-1800, 55-57.
Thomas Lentz and Glenn D. Lowry, Timur and the Princely Vision (Los Angeles:
LACMA, 1989) chap. 1.
David J. Roxburgh, “Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo’s Narrative of Courtly Life and Ceremony
in Timur’s Samarqand, 1404,” in The Book of Travels: Genre, Ethnology, and
Pilgrimage, 1250-1700, ed. Palmira Brummett (Leiden: Brill, 2009), 113-58.
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19/ GENDER AND DEVOTION: THE FEMALE PATRONAGE OF RELIGIOUS
ART AND ARCHITECTURE (1340-1500)
Readings:
David James, Qur’ans of the Mamluks (London: Alexandria, Thames and Hudson, 1988),
162-164, cat. no. 69, fig. 115 and 116.
Roya Marefat, “Timurid Women: Patronage and Power”, Asian Art 6, no. 2 (spring
1993), 28-49.
20/ OTTOMAN CONSTANTINOPLE, BETWEEN HERAT AND VENICE: THE
PORTRAITS OF MEHMET II
Reading:
Gülru Necipoğlu, “Visual Cosmopolitanism and Creative Translation: Artistic
Conversations with Renaissance Italy in Mehmed II’s Constantinople,” Muqarnas 29
(2012), esp. 1-3 and 30-52.
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