History | Islam and Modernity in Central Eurasia
T500 | 13821 | Lazzerini

Above class open to graduates only
Above class meets with CEUS-U520

Current events have brought the Islamic religion and its putative
supporters to the headlines of the daily media, usually in ways that
emphasize the Arab-Israeli conflict and/or the equally painful
results of terrorist acts and smart bombs. The task of bringing
knowledge of Islam to a broad non-Islamic public requires more than
news items or political rhetoric; rather, it demands serious and
fair reading of the primary sources of the religion and its
attendant cultures, as well as appreciation of the rich diversity
within "dar al-Islam" (the world of Islam) and the centuries of
internal conflict and controversy among intellectuals, poets, and
other men of God.   

In recent centuries, followers of the Islamic faith, as those of
other literate, manuscript traditions rooted in the teachings of one
or another prophet or thinker presuming to speak for God(s) or man,
have been challenged by forces collectively identified by the
slippery concept of modernity. As a result of these forces—
epistemological, above all, but technological, social, economic, and
political as well—disenchantment, disequilibrium, and displacement
abound globally, not least in those regions long guided by Islamic
principles. In Central Eurasia, where Islam has roots since the
eighth century, the path along modernity’s continuum has been a
veritable tightrope, whereon even the sure-footed have lost their
balance. How Muslims of this region, often in comparison with
Muslims elsewhere and adherents of completely different manuscript
traditions, have responded since the middle of the nineteenth
century to the perception, reality, and representation of modernity
is the primary theme of this course.  

Reading assignments for each class period will be modest, but will
require close attention, particularly to textual language, imagery,
and argumentation, for the sake of in-class discussion.  Also
required will be a 12 to 15-page essay.