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									                  ARTH 320: ART HISTORY OF THE ISLAMIC WORLD

Summer Session A, 2007                                   Maureen M. Guignon
Mon-Fri: 2:30-4:30 p.m.                                  Robinson B333
Fine Arts Building 110                         


ARTH 320 fulfills the Global understanding & non-Western requirements. This course examines
the historical, cultural and religious background of the Islamic world from the 7th Century to the
present and its corresponding impact on art and architecture throughout the Islamic world. Slide
lectures, readings, map and museum assignments will be used to teach students about three types
of visual art within the Islamic world: the Arts of the Book, monumental architecture, and luxury
arts. The class objectives are to increase students‟ geographical, historical, cultural, and religious
knowledge of the Islamic world through art and architecture; to realize the continuities and
similarities within that world as well as its unique differences; to become familiar with museums
and mosques in the area; and to acquire art-historical methods of interpretation. Class
requirements include reading assignments, maps, tests, papers, and classroom participation.

There are two required textbooks available at the GMU bookstore: Blair and Bloom‟s Islamic
Arts and John Esposito‟s Islam: The Straight Path. This class requires a paper assignment
based on visits to the Islamic Center and Mosque and local museums.

Students are expected to attend class fully prepared to participate and to learn. Please respect
others: do not arrive late, leave early or disrupt other students, and, turn off cell phones. You
must notify me before missing a test or assignment OR provide a written, documented
excuse in order to make up the test or assignment. College level writing ability is necessary
for this class. If you are unsure of your writing ability, please see me or visit the campus Writing
Center: . If you have special requirements, please notify me as
soon as possible. My e-mail address is listed above and I am available for drop in office hours
before and after class in the Slide Library, Robinson B-333 or you may make an appointment.


TBA                         Map Assignment

May 29:                     Test #1                                 25%

June 5:                     Test #2                                 25%

June 15:                    Test #3                                 25%

June 22:                    Final Paper Due                         25%


All tests are based on lectures, readings, and works of art in the text and from lectures. Tests will
include: 1. Definitions of terms. You will be responsible for specific vocabulary words and you
will be asked to (a) define each term; (b) give an example; (c) state the significance of each term.
2. Slide Identification. You will identify slides by their title, time period, geographical location,
and medium. 3. Comparison exercise: You will compare and contrast works of art and
architecture through slide identification and visual analysis. 4. A short essay, based on lectures
and class readings, will ask a general question on the “big picture” or “problems in art history.”


A trip to a mosque and a museum displaying Islamic art is required to examine architecture and
art as a primary source for a paper assignment. Complete instructions and information will be
provided. Writing at the college level requires the incorporation of specific rules of grammar,
spelling, and citation as well as perfect paper mechanics including the structure of sentences,
paragraphs, and punctuation. I expect college level writing; therefore, if you are concerned about
your writing skills, please see me immediately. There is a Writing Center on campus that helps
students improve their writing skills. Papers that do not meet college standards will be returned
for a re-write and the grade will be lowered.


George Mason University has an honor code. All students will sign the honor pledge on all
assignments to verify that the work on the assignment is entirely their own. Plagiarism on papers
includes not citing sources of information and is considered a violation of the Honor Code.
Check the web site:


A work (A+= 100; 93-99=A; 90-92=A-) is awarded for superior understanding of all concepts
and factual material, for excellent written work, and classroom participation.

B work (87-89=B+; 83-86=B; 80-82=B-) is above average mastery of material with well-
written assignments and obvious class participation and preparation.

C work (77-79=C+; 73-76=C; 70-72=C-) is an average good grade. It represents a basic grasp of
factual and conceptual material and competent written presentation.

D work (60-69) is minimally passing and it represents unsatisfactory understanding of the
material and poor written work. Frequent absences, not following instructions or failing to
complete assigned readings are common factors in poor grades.


For this week, read: Blair & Bloom, pp 5-127; Esposito, pp. 3-31.
Web: View MSS Chester Beatty Library @

Monday, May 21              Review Syllabus
                            Lecture: Historical Background of Islam in Arabia
                            Assign: Map, Due May 24

Tuesday, May 22             Mecca, Muhammad, Islam.
                            Arts of the Book: The Qur‟an

Wednesday, May 23           Early Islamic Architecture: The Mosque
                            Mecca and the Hajj.

Thursday, May 24            Early Expansion of Islam: Jerusalem and Damascus

Friday, May 25.             Museum Visit.

For this section, read Blair & Bloom, pp. 131-283; Esposito, pp.32-67.
Web: Read one of the „assemblies‟ of Maqamat al-Hariri from the Medieval Source Book.
Web: Caroline Williams, “Islamic Cairo: A Past Imperiled” on JSTOR.

Monday, May 28              MEMORIAL DAY HOLIDAY.

Tuesday, May 29             TEST #1.

Wednesday, May 30           The Abbasid World: Baghdad
                            Review: Museum/Mosque Paper Assignment

Thursday, May 31            Al-Andalus: Islamic Spain.

Friday, June 1              Egypt: Fustat & Medieval Cairo

Saturday, June 2            Mosque/Museum Tour in D.C.

Monday, June 4              Problems in Art History:
                            Modern Cairo: Conservation, Restoration, and Reconstruction
                            Read: Caroline Williams for this class.

Tuesday, June 5             TEST #2

For this section, read Blair & Bloom, pp. 287-422; Esposito, 68-114.
Web: For Wednesday please browse information on: Ibn Battuta; Alexander; Ibn Fadlan.

Wednesday, June 6           Persia: Luxury Arts & Architecture

Thursday, June 7            The Mughal Empire: Islamic India

Friday, June 8              Travelers in the Muslim World
                            Mughal India: MSS and the Hamzanama
                            Persia: MSS and the Shahnama

Monday, June 11             Rough draft of paper topic is due today.
                            The Ottoman Empire

Tuesday, June 12            The Ottoman Empire, Part II.
                            Textiles and Design.

Wednesday, June 13          Problems in Art History.
                            East Meets West: Orientalism
                            Frank Lloyd Wright: Who Owns Architecture?
                            Who Owns Art? Napoleon; the Ottoman Empire;
                            the Baghdad Museum; The Afghan Museum in Exile.

Thursday, June 14           Catch up, Wrap up, Essay Question for Final.
                            Review Final Paper Assignment.

Friday, June 15             TEST #3: 2:30

Monday, June 18             Individual Meetings on Final Paper

Friday, June 22             Final Paper Due.
                            Email as attachment to;
                            or hard copy in my mailbox in Robinson B-359
                            History/Art History Department.

ART OF THE ISLAMIC WORLD                                     PAPER ASSIGNMENT
ARTH 320, SUMMER 2007                                        DUE: JUNE 22, 2007

The paper assignment requires two visits, one to a mosque and one to a museum. The most
accessible mosque is the Islamic Center Mosque in D. C. Its address is listed below. Please call
as the mosque is closed during prayer time. Every visitor should be appropriately dressed when
entering the mosque; this means no shorts, no bare arms and a head covering for women. Shoes
should be removed prior to entering the mosque. You may choose any object of art from the
Islamic world on display at an area museum listed below.

The topic/theme/argument of your paper should link your visit to the mosque to a specific object
in the museum exhibit you visited. You may write on a topic of your own choice. However, here
are few thoughts to consider. Is there some connection between styles, design, or the particular
objects of architecture or “art”? Did this visit challenge you to look at art and architecture
differently? What was the cultural context between the two visits? What is the difference
between art in a museum and „art‟ in a mosque?

The basic ground rules are: The paper will be 4 pages long, typed or word processed in black ink,
double spaced, and stapled. I expect it to be spell-checked, grammar-checked, complete
sentences, and on time. You must describe and use a specific object of art from a museum and it
must be clearly identified with a footnote with its title, artist, medium, date, accession number,
location. Please cite your sources (not citing sources is considered plagiarism).

A good paper will be turned in on time and it must show that you: 1) visited both the mosque and
museum in person; 2) understand the characteristics of Islamic art and architecture; and, 3) have
the ability to write a well-organized paper with a title, an introduction, a theme, a clear purpose
or argument, and a strong conclusion.

The Islamic Center; 2551 Massachusetts Ave, NW; (202) 332-8343.

Freer Gallery, Jefferson Drive & 12th; (202) 357-4880; “Arts of the Islamic World”
Many of the objects from this collection are pictured in the Blair and Bloom textbook.

Sackler Gallery, 1050 Independence Ave., (202) 357-4880; “Fountains of Light: Islamic
Metalwork.” The Silk Route exhibit in the connecting hall between the Sackler and the Freer
also contains objects from the Islamic world.

Textile Museum, 2320 S. St., NW, (202) 667-0441; “Seldom Seen: Director‟s Choice” is a mix
of different textiles from around the world, including the Middle East.

You may use a third example of art or architecture from the web to prove your point or add to
your main theme. Be sure to cite your source (using the URL) and also describe how it is
different from seeing the “real” thing in a museum or in the mosque.

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