Visual Cultures of the Muslim World

Instructor: Esra Akın-Kıvanç

This course focuses on the relationship between Islamic visual cultures and the Muslim faith as manifested in painting, calligraphy, architecture, sculpture, photography, dance, theatre, and film. The material is approached thematically, illustrating points of historic, geographic, sectarian, and ethnic divergence and convergence in the vast lands of Islam from the seventh century until the present day. Secular and theological discourses on the variegated meanings of beauty, truth, and faith, three concepts that are fundamental to understanding Islamic visual codes and expressions, establish the theoretical framework for our studies. Special emphasis is given to investigating how political ideologies inform the construction of knowledge within Islamic visual cultures. Film segments and readings from art-historical, literary, and religious primary sources help students learn to appreciate the visual languages of Muslim cultures.