4.614 | Fall 2002 | Undergraduate

Religious Architecture and Islamic Cultures


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Introduction

Course Introduction by Prof. Nasser Rabbat

Class Requirements

4 short papers (6 pp. and 15% of the final grade each) and a final open-book exam (30% of the final grade), and 10% of the final grade for participation in discussion.

This course is an exploration of the history of Islamic cultures through their most vibrant creation: architecture. It surveys the sacred, commemorative, pious, and educational architecture in the Islamic world from the beginning of Islam as a religious revolution in 7th-century Arabia to its evolution as a global power straddling three continents, Asia, Africa, and Europe, in the medieval period to a world religion professed by one-sixth of humanity in the present.

The course reviews a number of representative examples (mosques, madrasas, mausolea, etc.) from various periods and locations and analyzes their architectural, urban, and stylistic characteristics in conjunction with their historical, political, and intellectual environments. It also uses films and discussions to elucidate the artistic/cultural varieties and historical developments of this architectural vision within both the Islamic and the larger, universal, and cross-cultural contexts.

Required Texts

George Michell, ed. Architecture of the Islamic World: Its History and Social Meaning. London: Thames and Hudson, 1978 [reprint 1984].

Robert Hillenbrand. Islamic Art and Architecture. London: Thames and Hudson, 1999.

For the full reading list, please see the readings section.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2002
Learning Resource Types
Course Introduction
Image Gallery