ARTH303: Art of the Islamic World

Course Syllabus for "ARTH303: Art of the Islamic World"

This course serves as an introduction to the pre-modern Islamic artistic traditions of the Mediterranean, Near East, and Central and South Asia.  This course is organized around the major dynasties under which Islamic art and architecture were produced.  The first unit surveys core Islamic beliefs, the basic characteristics of Islamic art and architecture, and art and architecture created under the patronage of the Umayyads (632-750) and the Muslim rulers of Spain.  The second unit focuses on the artistic and architectural innovations of the Abbasids (738-1250) and Seljuks (c.1040-1157), as well as the regional rulers of Anatolia and the Maghreb.  The third unit looks at the art and architecture of three successive Islamic dynasties based in Egypt: the Fatimids (909-1171), Ayyubids (1171-1250), and Mamluks (1250-1517). Unit 4 examines the art and architecture of the Ilkhanid (1256-1353) and Timurid (c. 1370-1507) dynasties in Iran and Central Asia.  The final unit presents the art and architecture of three later Islamic Empires: the Safavids (1501-1722), Ottomans (ca. 1299–1922), and Mughals (1526-1858).  These three later Islamic empires shared diplomatic ties and participated in active trade and cultural exchange with each other as well as Europe and East Asia. After completing this course, the student will be familiar with the major tenets of Islam, general Islamic history, the relationship of both to major developments in Islamic art and architecture, and the exchange of artistic and architectural forms throughout the larger Islamic, Mediterranean, Asian, and African worlds.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Identify the core beliefs of Islam, the major characteristics of Islamic art, and the major forms of Islamic architecture.
  • Identify major pre-modern Islamic works of art and monuments from the Middle East, Northern Africa, Spain, and South Asia.
  • Explain how the core beliefs of Islam contributed to the basic characteristics of Islamic art and architecture and the secular art works and architecture of the Islamic world.
  • Identify the succeeding dynasties that ruled the Islamic world.
  • Explain the important role that the patronage of art and architecture had played in definitions of kingship.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course you must:

√    Have access to a computer.

√    Have continuous broadband Internet access.

√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins (e.g., Adobe Reader or Flash) and software.

√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.

√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.).

√    Be competent in the English language.

√    Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

√    Have completed ARTH101: Art Appreciation and Techniques, ARTH110: Introduction to Western Art History—Pre-Historic to High Gothic, and ARTH111: Introduction to Western Art History—Proto-Renaissance to Contemporary Art

Course Information

Welcome to ARTH303, Art of the Islamic World.  Below, please find general information on this course and its requirements. 

Course Designer: Leslie V. Wallace, PhD

Primary Resources:  This course makes use of a variety of different online resources, including:

Requirements for Completion: To complete this course, you mustwork through all the assigned resources (readings, interactives, lectures, and videos), complete three assignments (“Guided Observation 1: Geometric Patterns and Floral and Vegetal Motifs in Islamic Art,”  “Guided Observation 2: Umayyad Mosque and Great Mosque of Cordoba,” and “Guided Observation 3: Art of the Book: The Shahnama (Persian Book of Kings),” and pass the Final Exam with a grade of 70% or more.

Time Commitment: Approximately 90 hours

Tips/Suggestions: Before beginning this course, it may be useful to review ARTH101: Art Appreciation and Techniques, Units 1–4, which focus on general art history vocabulary, materials, and techniques.  This knowledge, combined with the more specific vocabulary covered in this course, will be useful when discussing the art and architecture of the Islamic World.