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Queen's University

Muslim Societies, Global Perspectives

Undergraduate Courses

Below is a list of undergraduate academic course offerings at Queen's. To find out which courses are being taught this upcoming academic year, please visit the Office of the University Registrar's Course Timetable.

DEVS 395 War of Dreams: Social Movements of the Middle East Today; Instructor: Mohamed Abdou

This course focuses on the insurrectionary movements for social change that are currently sweeping across the Middle East, from Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya to Bahrain, Syria, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. These movements have been variously referred to as ‘the Arab Spring’ or the ‘Islamist Winter’. In order to better understand them we will trace their roots in Middle Eastern history, European colonialism and resulting anti-colonial struggles, looking at the theory and practice of current and previous social movements, as well as the relevance of Islam, in both local and global contexts.

HIST 296 The Making of the Muslim Middle East (550-1350 C.E.); 
Instructor:  Dr. Adnan Husain

This course surveys the process by which the Middle East became predominantly Muslim while maintaining a cosmopolitan and plural social order—what I call "Islamicate" societies.  The story begins with the Late Antique world and the advent of Islam and continues until the aftermath of the devastating Mongol invasions, before the emergence of the Ottoman empire in the fifteenth century. The course will examine the myriad political, social, religious, cultural and intellectual transformations of the region through the Arab conquests, the establishment of a new Muslim empire on the foundations of ancient Near Eastern polities, and the process of forging a Muslim society and culture from its classical efflorescence through its medieval elaboration and extension from al-Andalus (Muslim Spain) to Central Asia. It will introduce students to Islamic civilization through a broad, interdisciplinary range of topics: political formations including empires, "slave" states, and Turkic tribal confederacies; the historical development of Islamic religious institutions, practices, doctrines, and literatures, their relationships to political authority and its legitimation, and the manifold sectarian and mystical movements of the region, including the challenge of Shi'ism to Sunni Islam and the spiritual aspirations of Sufism; social structures and their evolution; the historical content and context of intellectual and cultural productions including philosophy, theology, mysticism, literature, art and architecture; and the problem of medieval encounters with Christendom in the Levant and the Maghrib (the Muslim West in North Africa).

HIST 267 The Modern Middle East; Instructor: Dr. Ariel Salzmann

An introduction to the multi-faceted history and cultural diversity of North Africa and Southwest Asia, a region stretching from Morocco to Afghanistan. Using a variety of sources including historical documents, films, music and literature, the course explores the social coordinates, political dynamics, culture and chronology which are necessary to understand modern events (from WWI) and contemporary conflicts.

HIST 305 Muslim Societies; 
Instructor: Dr. Adnan Husain

This course uses history 296: the Making of the Muslim Middle East as a broad base from which to continue an exploration of various topics related to the historical experience of pre-modern Muslim societies. The course aims to develop skills of critical reading of historiography, primary source interpretation and analysis, and engagement in historical argumentation in writing and oral discussion in the special context of non-western, global and interdisciplinary contexts and perspectives. To accomplish this we will examine primary sources like Islamic religious writings, chronicles, philosophical treatises, literary and artistic productions, and cultural artifacts alongside scholarly studies and debates on major historical questions in the field, like the relationship between religious and political authority, cosmopolitanism and religious pluralism, urban society and social order, and the interrelationships between philosophy, theology and mysticism.

HIST 337 Debates in the Ottoman Empire; Instructor: Dr. Ariel Salzmann

For nearly half a millennium, the Ottoman Empire ruled large parts of Europe, West Asia and North Africa. Although scholars agree on dates and places, they remain divided on almost every other aspect of the Ottoman past. This course investigates Ottoman history through the debates that have driven research over the last half century, beginning in the 13th century and concluding with World War I.

HIST 430 The Crusades and the Latin Kingdoms; 
Instructors: Dr. Richard Greenfield and Dr. Adnan Husain

The crusades were among the most formative as well as dramatic episodes of the Middle Ages. While their history has been heavily romanticized or vilified over time, depending on the cultural perspective from which they are viewed, there can be no doubt that they brought people from the societies of medieval Western Europe into direct contact, often into violent conflict, but also into situations of significant cultural exchange with those, Muslim and Christian, of the Eastern Mediterranean. In doing so they forged new relationships, developed new attitudes and ideas, created new patterns of behaviour and thought. These would play a vital role in Western Europe and the Middle East during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries but would also continue to be of influence for centuries afterwards, even down to the present day. Study of the crusades has in recent years become one of the most vibrant topics in the discipline of history. This upper year seminar will give students the opportunity to examine key topics in the history and interpretation of the medieval Crusades both in the Middle East and Western Europe from the late eleventh to the late thirteenth centuries. The society established by the crusaders in the Eastern Mediterranean and its interactions both with the different peoples of the region and with those of Western Europe will also be studied in some depth, while students will also be encouraged to relate medieval crusading to relevant present day debates and issues. Stress will be placed on the use of original source material (in translation) and the development of research, analytical, writing, and communication skills of students in the upper years of a History concentration. The course will be of particular interest to students of the Middle Ages, the Middle East, Byzantium, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the history of Christianity and Islam.

HIST 456 Islam in World History

An advanced study of a particular topic on the Islamic world and/or Muslim diaspora in relation to a global historiographical theme, whether religion and state, gender, migration, war, cosmopolitanism, or other issues.

RELS 226 Islam; Instructor: Dr. Forough Jahanbakhsh

Historical and topical survey of Islam, its development through the study of its rise, institutionalization of its beliefs and practices, formation of its theology, law, mysticism; as well as its modern interpretations and practices.

RELS 326 Religion and Politics in Iran ; Instructor: Dr. Forough Jahanbakhsh

Explores the role of religion in a Muslim society as exemplified in modern Iranian experience: a move from politicization of Islam to a post-fundamentalist interpretation.

RELS 396 Islam in the Modern World; Instructor: Dr. Forough Jahanbakhsh

Exploration of Islamic developments since the 19th century: major thinkers, trends of thought, and contemporary movements as responses to modernity.

GNDS 365 Gender Dialogues: Jewish and Muslim Experiences (PDF 1.68 MB); Instructors: Sylvat Aziz and Dr Jackie Davies

The global and historical scope of Jewish and Muslim experiences provide rich contexts within which to explore the many and varied meanings that sex and gender can manifest in practice and material culture. Intersectional analyses and multidisciplinary methods inform course design and discussions of artifacts, texts, popular culture, social history and practices. This, in turn, enables a more nuanced exploration of relevant social justice questions. The instructors’ encounters with each other and with cultures more and less familiar to them represent an invitation for students to engage in dialogue with the subjects they encounter through the course. The course emphasizes diversity within as well as across Muslim cultures and Jewish cultures. Similarities as well as differences are equally important threads in our cross-cultural conversations.

GNDS 401 Debates on Feminism and Islam

This course focuses on the theories, political activities, and organizing of Islamic feminists. It situates itself in relation to contemporary debates around the status of women in Islam and problematizes the nature of feminism and its assumed relationship to Islam. The course will focus on questions of religion, race, class, and nationalism in relation to Islam and Muslim women. This course contains an intensive and independent study component.

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