Imagining Islam:

Icon, Object and Image

Course Description

This course explores the place of material and visual culture in Islam, examining how Muslims have conceptualized and deployed material and visual forms of religious expressions in a number of historical contexts. How does vision affect the understanding and practice of religion? How does a world pregnant with enchantment shape and inform materiality? What does the study of religion tell us about visual and material culture that art history cannot?


Topics include: icon, iconicity, and iconoclasm; the material object as a site of charismatic power; sacred space and sacred architecture; shrine worship / book worship; bodies and objects in a world of ritual purity and impurity; calligraphy, painting / sign and image; visual and textual aesthetics; talismans, charms, and incantations; visuality and materiality as religious experience.




2010 Syllabus