The course includes weekly reading and occasional writing assignments and requires preparation of and participation in discussions. 

Assignment 1

Prepare a statement that captures the viewpoints of one of our authors for this week, or of an author on Islamic architecture whose work is familiar to you. Be prepared to present, explain, and analyze your statement in 5 minutes. Use illustration to support your statements if you want.

Assignment 2

Choose one of the early scholars of Islamic architecture (19th century to 1945), and write a Wikipedia-like entry about her/him. The entry should not exceed 500 words and is to be presented in class.

Assignment 3

Choose an example of epigraphy on an architectural monument anywhere in Islamic history, read it, analyze its style, location, and meaning and present it in class for 5 minutes.

Assignment 4

Choose a canonical example of Islamic architecture, present it in class for 5 minutes and explain why it is a representative example of its architectural tradition.

Assignment 5

Choose an Islamic art object from any museum with which you are familiar, describe the object, contextualize it in its original setting and at the museum, and present it in class for 5 minutes.

Research Paper

A 15 to 20-page research paper is also required. Students are to select their topics in consultation with instructor. Topics may be in-depth studies of texts, representations, architectural project, or scholarly traditions within the field of Islamic art and architecture. Abstracts and preliminary bibliography are due by the end of the 4th week. Students will present their paper proposals, introductions, and / or research ideas in class on the 6th week. This will give them a chance to test their ideas before writing the final paper. The final papers will be presented in class during the last two sessions and then submitted at the end of the term.

Suggested Research Topics

  1. Islamic architecture in the writing of Richard Ettinghausen, Robert Hillenbrand, K. A. C. Creswell, or any other major scholar in any language.
  2. The French, German, Spanish, Italian or Russian school of scholarship on Islamic architecture.
  3. Colonial architecture and scholarship in French North Africa, Egypt, the Indian subcontinent, Sub-Saharan Islamic Africa, etc.
  4. Western scholars and the nationalist question: K. A. C. Creswell in Egypt, Arthur Upham Pope in Iran, and G. Goodwin in Turkey, ect.
  5. Nationalism and Islamism in Turkish, Arabic, Iranian, or Pakistani / Bangladeshi art historical scholarship and / or contemporary architecture.
  6. The writing of members of the Traditionalist school: Henri Corbin, Titus Burkhardt, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, and Nader Ardalan, etc.
  7. European travelers and illustrators in India, Egypt, Turkey, Spain, Iran, or Central Asia.
  8. Chinoiserie, Turkerie, and the fascination with Oriental fashion in Europe.
  9. The fascination with the Alhambra, the Taj Mahal, and other major monuments. Page 7.
  10. Status of Islamic / Oriental architecture in the nineteenth-century study of architecture.
  11. Analysis of the scholarly oeuvre of major national scholars of Islamic architecture anywhere in the Islamic world.
  12. The relationship between the study of Islamic architecture and the study of Islamic history, cultures, and societies.
  13. The role of the Aga Khan cultural enterprise in defining Islamic architecture.
  14. Analysis and critique of how contemporary major architects interpret Islamic architecture in their design.
  15. The pros and cons of teaching Islamic architecture as a separate topic in Western and / or Islamic universities.