Fall 2012 - Graduate Course Descriptions
Description of Course:
Before the rise of new communication methods and transportation means, people used to rely on travelers and travel accounts for the transmission of knowledge and the conveyance of new information. The course first introduces the students to the basics of Islamic history and culture. Then, it particularly focuses on the role of travel in the Medieval and Early Modern Islamic world. The significance of travelling reached a new height when pilgrimage became one of the five pillars of Islam in the seventh century. This development made travelling central to the spiritual lives of Muslims, and it was even further supported by the Prophetic saying: "Seek knowledge, even as far away as China."
The course will cover diverse reasons, from religious purposes to intellectual curiosity, that prompted people to leave their homes. It emphasizes the fact that travelling was essential and even obligatory for the transmission of knowledge in the Islamic world. The circulation of individuals and the accounts that these travelers produced not only strengthened the ties of communication between diverse Muslim societies, but also shaped the mutual perceptions of societies with dissimilar ethnic and religious affiliations.
The course will also highlight the connections between the major events in the history of civilization and the mobility of individuals (i.e. the Mongol conquest and population migrations or the Crusades). It also discusses the practical conditions of traveling in these centuries (i.e. How did people travel? Which maps did they use? Where did they stay?) Our primary and secondary readings present a wide variety from the accounts of the Christian pilgrims who visited Holy Lands under Muslim control to Muslim intellectuals who were captured by the pirates in the Mediterranean Sea. These accounts will be analyzed as historical texts.
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria: