Exploring the Cultural Dimensions of Islam

In this seminar, we will review Islam overall as a culture — a way of life, not simply a religion. The approach to such a culture, in all its variations, will be not only historical but also comparative: how does Islam as a way of life compare with other cultures, whether they be western or eastern.

Each week’s seminar will begin with a relevant reading of primary or secondary sources, circulated via e-mail prior to class and never more than two pages in length. Topics include:

  • Islamic history, including a timeline and geography
  • Convergences and divergences, with a focus on the Sunni/Shi‘ite split
  • Islamic law
  • Islamic art, both verbal (literary) and visual
  • Islamic politics, from the beginnings to the present
  • Humor in the world of Islam

  • Group Leader(s): OLGA DAVIDSON
  • Days: Mondays
  • Times: 10 a.m. - noon
  • Start Date: 10/7/2019
  • End Date: 11/18/2019
  • Sessions: 6
  • Exceptions: 10/14/2019
  • Venue: King's Chapel Parish House
  • Teaching Style: Seminar
  • Weekly Preparation: 1 hour
  • Biography:

    Olga M. Davidson (Ph.D. 1983 Princeton University) is on the faculty of the Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations, Boston University, where she has served as research fellow since 2009. From 1992 to 1997, she was chair of the concentration in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at Brandeis University. Since 1999, she has been chair of the board, Ilex Foundation. She is the author of Poet and Hero in the Persian Book of Kings (1994; 2nd ed. 2006; 3rd ed. 2013) and Comparative Literature and Classical Persian Poetry (2000; 2nd ed. 2013). With Shreve Simpson, she co-edited Ferdowsi’s Shahnama: Millennial Perspectives (ILEX Foundation, 2013).

  • Address: 64 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108