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HIS 189 — Muslim Spain: Philosophy and Culture

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Mondays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Sep 24—Dec 3
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm
Drop Deadline: Oct 7
Units: 2
Tuition: $480
Instructor(s): Vincent Barletta
Status: Closed
Please Note: No class on November 19
7:00—8:50 pm
Sep 24—Dec 3
10 weeks
Drop By
Oct 7
2 Units
Vincent Barletta
Please Note: No class on November 19
This course will examine the history and culture of Al-Andalus, the portion of what is now Spain and Portugal that was once under Muslim rule (711–1492 CE). With a focus on politics as well as art, music, and literature, we will consider the origins of al-Andalus in the early 8th century CE , its spectacular flourishing in the early 11th century, and its eventual collapse at the end of the 15th century. Our focus will be on lyric poetry (zajals and muwashshahat), classical music, and philosophy (ibn Rushd, ibn Tufayl), as well as Islamic jurisprudence and politics. Current debates on immigration, identity, peace, and innovation in the West often present Muslims (and Islam) as somehow incompatible with the broader project of democracy. We comfortably use phrases such as “clash of civilizations,” we speak of “jihad” as though it could mean only one (stable) thing, and we even ask in all seriousness whether Islam is compatible with democracy. These arguments and discussions have tended to revolve around a stubbornly ahistorical and monolithic notion of Islam, as well as a simplistic (even dehumanizing) view of Muslims around the world. In this course, students will learn of a seven-century stretch of European history during which Muslim kingdoms were at the cutting edge of science, philosophy, art, music, and literature while exercising striking tolerance with respect to their non-Muslim subjects.

Vincent Barletta, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Iberian and Latin American Cultures, Stanford

Vincent Barletta is a research associate at Stanford’s Europe Center and associated faculty in the Center for African Studies, the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies, the Mediterranean Studies Forum, and the Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies. He received a PhD in Hispanic languages and literatures from UCLA.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Oliver Leaman, Islamic Philosophy (ISBN 978-0745645995)
(Required) Brian A. Catlos, Kingdoms of Faith: A New History of Islamic Spain (ISBN 978-0465055876)