4.619 | Fall 2014 | Graduate

Historiography of Islamic Architecture


No textbook is required for the seminar. Some suggested and background texts are listed here.

Suggested Texts

The articles in the special issue of the Journal of Art Historiography on Islamic art historiography.

Grabar, Oleg. The Formation of Islamic Art. 2nd ed. Yale University Press, 1988. ISBN: 9780300040463.

Allen, Terry. Five Essays in Islamic Architecture. Solipsist Press, 1986. ISBN: 9780944940006.

Tabbaa, Yasser. The Transformation of Islamic Art during the Sunni Revival. I B Tauris & Co Ltd, 2001. ISBN: 9780295981253.

Michell, George, ed. Architecture of the Islamic World. William Morrow & Company, 1978. [reprint 1984]

Background Text

Hodgson, Marshall G. S. The Venture of Islam: Conscience and History in a World Civilization. University of Chicago Press, 1974. ISBN: 9780226346816.

Overview and Class Structure Rabbat, Nasser. “Islamic Architecture as a Field of Historical Inquiry,” (PDF) AD Architectural Design 74, no. 6 (2004): 18–23. [Special Issue Islam+Architecture republished in Journal of Art Historiography, no. 7.]
Reviews of the Field

Grabar, Oleg. “Reflections on the Study of Islamic Art.” Muqarnas 1 (1983): 1–14.

———. “What Should One Know about Islamic Art?RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, no. 43 (2003): 5–11.

Hillenbrand, Robert. “Studying Islamic Architecture: Challenges and Perspectives.” Architectural History 46 (2003): 1–18.

Blair, Sheila S., and Jonathan M. Bloom. “The Mirage of Islamic Art: Reflections on the Study of an Unwieldy Field.” The Art Bulletin 85, no. 1 (2003): 152–84.

Necipoğlu, Gülru. “The Concept of Islamic Art: Inherited Discourses and New Approaches” (PDF - 3.5MB), no. 6 [Special issue, “Islamic art historiography”] originally published in Junod, Benoît, Georges Khalil, et al, eds. Islamic Art and the Museum: Approaches to Art and Archeology of the Muslim World in the Twenty-First Century. Saqi Books, 2013, pp. 57–76. ISBN: 9780863564130.

Background Reading

Grabar, Oleg. “Islamic Art and Archaeology.” In The Study of the Middle East: Research and Scholarship in the Humanities and the Social Sciences. Edited by L. Binder. John Wiley & Sons Inc, 1977, pp. 229–63. ISBN: 9780471073048.

Early Historiographical Developments

Vernoit, Stephen, ed. “Islamic Art and Architecture: An Overview of Scholarship and Collecting, c. 1850–c. 1950.” In Discovering Islamic Art: Scholars, Collectors and Collections 1850–1950. I. B. Tauris, 2000, pp. 1–61. ISBN: 9781860645341.

Necipoglu, Gulru. “Ornamentalism and Orientalism.” In The Topkapi Scroll: Geometry and Ornament in Islamic Architecture. Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, 1995, pp. 61–71.

Cuddon, Benedict. “A Field Pioneered by Amateurs: The Collecting and Display of Islamic Art in Early Twentieth-Century Boston.” Muqarnas 30, no. 1 (2013): 13–33.

Background Reading

Rogers, J. M. From Antiquarianism to Islamic Archaeology. Istituto Italiano di Cultura per la R. A. E., 1974.

Coste, Pascal. “Préface.” Architecture Arabe ou Monuments du Kaire Mesurés et dessinés de 1818 à 1826. Firmin Didot Frères, 1837, pp. 2–29.

The Issue of Image in Islamic Art

Creswell, K. A. C. “The Lawfulness of Painting in Early Islam.” Ars Islamica 11/12 (1946): 1959–66.

Hodgson, Marshall G. “Islam and Image.” History of Religions 3, no. 2 (1964): 220–60.

Allen, Terry. “Aniconism and Figural Representation in Islam.” In Five Essays on Islamic Art. Solipsist Press, 1986, pp. 17–37. ISBN: 9780944940006.

Flood, Finbarr Barry. “Between Cult and Culture: Bamiyan, Islamic Iconoclasm, and the Museum.” The Art Bulletin 84, no. 4 (2002): 641–59.

Islamic Architecture and the Word

Ettinghausen, Richard. “Arabic Epigraphy: Communication or Symbolic Affirmation.” In Near Eastern Numismatics, Iconography, Epigraphy and History: Studies in Honor of George Miles. Edited by D. K. Kouymjian. American University of Beirut, 1974, pp. 297–317.

Dodd, Erica C. “The Image of the Word (Notes on the Religious Iconography of Islam).” Berytus 18 (1969): 35–62.

Edwards, Holly. “Text, Context, Architext: The Qur’an as Architectural Inscription.” In Brocade of the Pen: The Art of Islamic Writing. Edited by Carol G. Fisher. Michigan State University Kresge Art Museum, 1991, pp. 63–75. ISBN: 9781879147102.

Tabbaa, Yasser. The Transformation of Islamic Art during the Sunni Revival. I. B. Tauris & Company Ltd, 2001, pp. 25–72. ISBN: 9781850433927.

Background Reading

Article on “Kitabat,” (Writing) EI2, vol. 5, 210–35, esp. 210–18.

The Sufi Tradition and the Symbolist Approach

Irwin, Robert. “Louis Massignon and the Esoteric Interpretation of Islamic Art.” In Discovering Islamic Art: Scholars, Collectors and Collections, 1850–1950. Edited by S. Vernoit. I. B. Tauris, 2000, pp. 163–70. ISBN: 9781860645341.

Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. “Introduction.” In Islamic Art and Spirituality. State University of New York Press, 1987, pp. 3–13. ISBN: 9780887061752. [Preview with Google Books]

Burckhardt, Titus. “The Foundations of Islamic Art.” In Sacred Art in East and West: Its Principles and Methods. Perennial, 1967, pp. 101–19. ISBN: 9781871534566.

Akkach, Samer. Cosmology and Architecture in Premodern Islam: An Architectural Reading of Mystical Ideas. State University of New York Press, 2005, pp. 149–209. ISBN: 9780791464120. [Preview with Google Books]

A Paradigmatic Islamic Monument: The Taj Mahal

Jairazbhoy, R. A. “The Taj Mahal in the Context of East and West: A Study in Comparative Method.” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 24, no. 1 / 2 (1961): 59–88.

Begley, Wayne E. “The Myth of the Taj Mahal and a New Theory of Its Symbolic Meaning.” The Art Bulletin 61, no. 1 (1979): 7–37.

Koch, Ebba. “The Taj Mahal: Architecture, Symbolism, and Urban Significance.” Muqarnas 22 (2005): 128–49.

Wescoat, James, Jr. “[The Changing Cultural Space of Mughal Gardens](https://www.academia.edu/6229215/The_Changing_Cultural_Space_of_Mughal_ Gardens).” In A Companion to Asian Art and Architecture. Edited by Rebecca M. Brown and Deborah S. Hutton. Wiley-Blackwell, 2011, pp. 201–29. ISBN: 9781405185370. [Preview with Google Books]

The “Islamic” Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Coombes, Annie. “Inventing the ‘Postcolonial:’ Hybridity and Constituency in Contemporary Curating.” In The Art of Art History: A Critical Anthology. Edited by Donald Preziosi. Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 486–97.

Shalem, Avinoam. “What do We Mean When We Say ‘Islamic art’? A Plea for a Critical Rewriting of the History of the Arts of Islam”(PDF) Journal of Art Historiography, no. 6 (2012). [Special issue “Islamic Art Historiography”]

Reviews of the Galleries

Denny, Walter B. “The Met Resets a Gem.” Saudi Aramco World 62, no. 6 (2011).

Rabbat, Nasser. “What’s in a Name? The New ‘Islamic Art’ Galleries at the Met.” Artforum 50, no. 8 (2012): 75–8.

Farhat, Maymanah. “Rethinking Islamic Art.” Jadaliyya, November 16, 2011.

Lewis, Michael J. “Islam by Any other Name.” The New Criterion, December 2011.

Cotter, Holland. “A Cosmopolitan Trove of Exotic Beauty,” The New York Times, October 27, 2011, C27.

Lawrence, Lee. “The Many Paths Toward an Islamic Aesthetic.” The Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2011.

Locating Islamic Art and Architecture in Theory

Baydar, Gülsüm. “Toward Postcolonial Openings: Rereading Sir Banister Fletcher’s ‘History of Architecture’.” Assemblage, no. 35 (1998): 6–17.

Flood, Finbarr Barry. “From the Prophet to Postmodernism? New World Orders and the end of Islamic Art.” In Making Art History: A Changing Discipline and Its Institutions. Edited by Elizabeth Mansfield. Routledge, 2007, pp. 31–53. ISBN: 9780415372343.

Shaw, Wendy. “The Islam in Islamic Art History: Secularism and Public Discourse.” (PDF) Journal of Art Historiography, no. 6 (2012). [Special issue, “Islamic Art Historiography”]

Graves, Margaret S. “Feeling Uncomfortable in the Nineteenth Century.” (PDF) Journal of Art Histiography, no. 6 (2012).

Keshani, Hussein. “Towards Digital Islamic Art History” (PDF) Journal of Art Histiography, no. 6 (2012).

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2014