This course surveys the foundations of Islamic art and architecture in the Middle East and then traces these artistic forms across the Mediterranean and into Central Asia. We will work our way from the seventh through the sixteenth centuries, studying everything from mosques to palaces, from holy texts to vividly depicted tales of love, friendship, and behavior, from shimmering mosaics to stuccoed vaults. Class discussion will be focused on the making, meanings, and social resonances of Islamic art. Together, we will work to define and redefine the term “Islamic Art,” as we consider the following topics: the religious, political, and economic contexts of works of art, the impact of aniconism and iconoclasm on artistic production, the differences between regional and dynastic styles, and the forms of domestic and secular art. In addition, we will focus on the presentation and collection of Islamic art in Western museums, and the influence of Islam on the intellectual and cultural life of the West.
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