Spring 2018: 4.0 Credit Hours
A5 005 1:15-2:40
Office hours: Tues. 4-5 or by appointment
Founded in the year 750 C.E., the Abbasid caliphate was one of the world’s great empires. At the height of its strength, the Abbasid caliph ruled a vast region extending from North Africa to Central Asia. This course will examine the historical rise of the Abbasid state as a watershed moment in the history of Late Antiquity that would have a profound and lasting impact on the political, religious, intellectual culture of Eurasia for the next millennium. Through an engagement with primary texts and secondary studies across a wide variety of intellectual disciplines such as history, philosophy, religion, and literature, students in this class will come to understand some of the complex dynamics that went into the formation of Abbasid state and society, and what some of the consequences of their rule would be for later generations.
Students will refine critical thinking and reading skills helpful for the LITCW, Arab Crossroads and history programs; perform close textual analysis; produce competent analytical essays; understand relations of text to context; and make connections among a variety of genres, periods, and dcultural contexts.
Teaching and Learning Methodologies
This course is structured as a seminar, which will require students to read the texts under consideration with care and attention. Students should come to each class prepared not only to discuss the text, but also to raise important questions that they believe are essential to understanding and analysis. Students will be required to write three essays during the course of the semester that will improve skills in the explication of texts and thinking about historical contexts. The class will make use of a website that is designed by the instructor that will provide some of the readings as well as links to other supplementary materials.
1.) Class participation (10%): This course is a seminar, a format that depends for success upon vigorous and thoughtful discussion from all participants.
2.) Short Responses (10%) As Assigned. The night before class (prior to 12 midnight) you will submit to the instructor a reflection on the next day’s reading of approximately 500-600 words. We will be using these responses to construct an online resource containing student composed guides to Abbasid culture, literature and society.
3.) Presentations (10%) As Assigned. Over the course of the semester you will be responsible two times for beginning our class discussion: you will introduce the texts and their key ideas, offer around 5 guiding questions for our seminar conversation, and lead the discussion for about 10-15 minutes. Think aloud and help us engage with your ideas.
4.) 2 Short Papers (2 x 20%=40%): (5-7 pages each) Due Week 5 and Week 10
5.) Final paper (30%): (15 pages) Due one week after the final class meeting.
Classroom Etiquette and Expectations:
Punctuality is mandatory: late admittance to the classroom will not be permitted. Attendance will be taken at each class. Please inform me beforehand if for any reason you are unable to attend. More than three absences may result in a failing grade for the course.
https://students.nyuad.nyu.edu/campus-life/student-policies/community-standards-policies/academic-integrity/ NYU Abu Dhabi expects its students to adhere to the highest possible standards of scholarship and academic conduct. Students should be aware that engaging in behaviors that violate the standards of academic integrity will be subject to review and may face the imposition of penalties in accordance with the procedures set out in the NYUAD policy.
Week 1 Introduction
Monday, January 22 Introduction
- Introduction and Review of Syllabus
Wednesday, January 24 Islam and Late Antiquity
Week 2: The Late Antique Context
Monday, January 29 Arabia and Late Antiquity
- Michael Lecker, “Pre-Islamic Arabia,” in The New Cambridge History of Islam: Vol. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 153–170. pdf
Wednesday, January 31 Late Antique Arabia: The Life of the Prophet
- Maʿmar b. Rāshid, The Expeditions: An Early Biography of Muḥammad, ed. Sean Anthony, 2014, xv-xxix, 1-75. pdf
- Patricia Crone, “What do we really know about the Prophet Muhammad?”
- Geert Jan van Gelder, Sound and Sense in Classical Arabic Poetry, Arabische Studien 10 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2012), 12–14. Examine the Poem.
Extra Reading for Further Context: – ???pdf
Week 3: Before the Abbasids: Caliphate and the Umayyads
Monday, February 5: The Beginnings of the Caliphate to the Umayyads
- ???, Chapter 3. pdf
- Hugh Kennedy, Caliphate: The History of an Idea (New York: Basic Books, 2016), 1–31. -Optional Further Reading: Chase F. Robinson, “The Rise of Islam, 600–705,” in The New Cambridge History of Islam: Vol. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 173–225. pdf Read 208-225.
Wednesday, February 7 Umayyad Court and Administration
- Kennedy, Caliphate, 33–61.
- Paul Cobb, “The Empire in Syria, 705-763,” in The New Cambridge History of Islam: Vol. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 226–255. pdf
- Gelder, Sound and Sense in Classical Arabic Poetry., Bring it to class (we will read pp. 12-20)
- We will also be looking at some Umayyad Administrative Letters in Class. Slides
Expeditions/Sira of the Prophet Assignment Due:
- 300 word comparison of one of the three stories found in The Expeditions and one found in the Life of the Prophet of Ibn Isḥāq [Ibn Hishām]
- What are the differences between these two stories?
- What are the similarities?
- What conclusions have you drawn if any about these works or about writing on the life of the Prophet?
Week 4 An Imperial Foundation
Monday, February 12 The Abbasid Revolution and its Aftermath
- Cobb, “The Empire in Syria, 705-763,” 255–268.pdf
- Kennedy, Caliphate, 63–76.
- Chase F. Robinson, “The Rise of Islam, 600–705,” in The New Cambridge History of Islam: Vol. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 269–276. pdf
- Gelder, Sound and Sense in Classical Arabic Poetry, 166–175. Slides
Wednesday, February 14 From al-Manṣūr to al-Rashīd
- Robinson, “The Rise of Islam, 600–705,” 2011, 286–295.
- Gelder, Sound and Sense in Classical Arabic Poetry, 34–50.
Week 5 The Court and Society in Baghdad
Monday, February 19 The Age of al-Ma’mūn
Wednesday, February 21 The Court and the World: A House of Wisdom?
- ???-end. pdf
- Dimitri Gutas, Greek Thought, Arabic Culture (London; New York: Routledge, 1998), 75–104.pdf
- Gelder, Sound and Sense in Classical Arabic Poetry, 176–194.
Monday, February 26 Beyond the Court: Legists and Pietists
- Ibn al-Jawzī, Virtues of the Imam Aḥmad B. Ḥanbal, trans. Michael Cooperson (New York: New York University Press, 2013). pdf
- ???, intro and 1-28. pdf notes Slides
Wednesday, February 28 The Shīʿa
Sunday, March 4 @ 5 pm Paper #1 is due Description of the Assignment
Monday, March 5 Islam and Other Religions
- Tarif Khalidi, The Muslim Jesus : Sayings and Stories in Islamic Literature (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001), 51–100. pdf
Wednesday, March 7 Midterm
Monday, March 12 NO CLASS
Monday, March 26 Samarra’ and the New Shape of Abbasid Power
- Robinson, “The Rise of Islam, 600–705,” 2011, 296–304.
- Ibn al-Sāʿī, Consorts of the Caliphs, ed. Shawkat Toorawa (New York: New York University Press, 2015).pdf
- Nadia Maria El Cheikh, Women, Islam and Abbasid Identity (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2015), 77–116.pdf
Wednesday, March 28 Poetic Explorations
- Philip Kennedy, Abu Nuwas: A Genius of Poetry (Oxford: Oneworld, 2005), 1–78 and 94-106. pdf
- Thomas Bauer, “Male-Male Love in Classical Arabic Literature,” in The Cambridge History of Gay and Lesbian Literature, ed. E.L. Maccallum and Mikko Tuhkanen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 107–124. pdf
Monday, April 2 Gender
- Abū Bakr Muḥammad b. Yaḥyā al-Ṣūlī, The Life and Times of Abū Tammām, trans. Beatrice Gruendler (New York: NYU Press, 2015). pdf of intro pdf of section on Ahmad b. Abi Du’ad
Wednesday, April 4 The Center Does Not Hold
Roy P Mottahedeh, Loyalty and Leadership in an Early Islamic Society (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1980).pdf Read Chapter 2 and the Conclusion. Skim Chapter 3.
Monday, April 9 Ibn Fadlan
Ibn Faḍlan, “Mission to the Volga,” in Two Arabic Travel Books, ed. James E. Montgomery (New York: New York University Press, 2014).pdf
Wednesday, April 11 No Class
Monday, April 16 The Maqamat and Party Crashers
Wednesday, April 18 Sufism
- ???, Chapter 1.pdf
Monday, April 23 The Abbasids Translated and Transformed
- Mona Hassan, Longing for the Lost Caliphate (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016), Chapters 1 and 2.
Wednesday, April 25 Abbasids and the Indian Ocean
- Lecture by Timothy Power ??? pdf
Monday, April 30 Legacies of Abbasid Power
- Hassan, Longing for the Lost Caliphate, Chapters 5 and 6.
Wednesday, May 2 Other Legacies
- Podcast on Arabic-Latin Translations https://www.historyofphilosophy.net/translations-burnett-hasse
Monday, May 7
al-Jawzī, Ibn. Virtues of the Imam Aḥmad B. Ḥanbal. Translated by Michael Cooperson. New York: New York University Press, 2013.
al-Sāʿī, Ibn. Consorts of the Caliphs. Edited by Shawkat Toorawa. New York: New York University Press, 2015.
al-Ṣūlī, Abū Bakr Muḥammad b. Yaḥyā. The Life and Times of Abū Tammām. Translated by Beatrice Gruendler. New York: NYU Press, 2015.
Bauer, Thomas. “Male-Male Love in Classical Arabic Literature.” In The Cambridge History of Gay and Lesbian Literature, edited by E.L. Maccallum and Mikko Tuhkanen, 107–124. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.
Cobb, Paul. “The Empire in Syria, 705-763.” In The New Cambridge History of Islam: Vol. 1, 226–269. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.
El Cheikh, Nadia Maria. Women, Islam and Abbasid Identity. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2015.
Faḍlan, Ibn. “Mission to the Volga.” In Two Arabic Travel Books, edited by James E. Montgomery. New York: New York University Press, 2014.
Gelder, Geert Jan van. Sound and Sense in Classical Arabic Poetry. Arabische Studien 10. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2012.
Gutas, Dimitri. Greek Thought, Arabic Culture. London; New York: Routledge, 1998.
Hassan, Mona. Longing for the Lost Caliphate. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016.
Jones, Alan. The Quran, n.d.
Kennedy, Hugh. Caliphate: The History of an Idea. New York: Basic Books, 2016.
Kennedy, Philip. Abu Nuwas: A Genius of Poetry. Oxford: Oneworld, 2005.
Khalidi, Tarif. The Muslim Jesus : Sayings and Stories in Islamic Literature. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001.
Lecker, Michael. “Pre-Islamic Arabia.” In The New Cambridge History of Islam: Vol. 1, 153–170. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.
Mottahedeh, Roy P. Loyalty and Leadership in an Early Islamic Society. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1980.
Rāshid, Maʿmar b. The Expeditions: An Early Biography of Muḥammad. Edited by Sean Anthony, 2014.
Robinson, Chase F. “The Rise of Islam, 600–705.” In The New Cambridge History of Islam: Vol. 1, 173–225. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.
———. “The Rise of Islam, 600–705.” In The New Cambridge History of Islam: Vol. 1, 173–225. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.