HIST 385

Living Muslim History

This course is a study of moments in Muslim history through the lens of auto/biographical writing. Through such narratives, we will study the relationship between the past and the present in the Muslim world, how Muslim history has been lived and experienced, and how the drawing of national boundaries, the disappearance of old empires, and the experience of exile, displacement, and colonialism has shaped individual lives. Our sources include life narratives from the pre-modern Islamic world, auto/biographies and travel accounts written under Ottoman rule, and writings from colonial and post-colonial Asia and the Middle East. Though a study of the lives of people living in the Muslim world, this course will shed light on the universal nature of human experience, and on how experience is filtered through the specificity of historical circumstances. This course will introduce students to a theoretical approach for studying autobiography in the Muslim world, and to situating auto/biographies within the context of the times in which they were written. This approach includes challenging the Euro-American origins of the genre of “autobiography” and understanding the literary dimensions of historical narration.

Course Teachers