Religious Architecture and Islamic Cultures

This course introduces the history of Islamic cultures through the lenses of their architecture of devotion (religious, commemorative, and educational). The survey proceeds chronologically from the beginning of Islam in 7th-century Arabia up to the present. It focuses on decisive moments in Islamic history and on the global spread of Islam today and introduces influential patrons, thinkers, and designers. Major examples of mosques, madrasas, mausolea, etc. are analyzed within their broadest historical context and their architectural, urban, and stylistic characteristics are examined in conjunction with their political, socioeconomic, and intellectual settings.

Students are encouraged to raise questions and generate debates in lectures as well as in discussion sessions. The aim is to explore all possible venues of interpretation to better understand Islamic religious architecture within its regional, pan-Islamic, and global contexts both in the past and present.