SOCS 612
Islam and the West

Peter Gottschalk             

Our Goal
We will delve into the rhetoric of difference regarding “Islam” and “the West” and the interests this has served. We will also investigate the cultural, religious, and political dimensions of interaction at specific historical moments. 
Pre-Class Assignment
Please read at least the first three chapters of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses.
Course Schedule
June 26 Introduction to Islam and early Muslim history
June 27

Crusades & Reconquista and the Great Western Transmutation

• Reader: Watts (“Reconquista and Crusade” & “Islam and European Self-Awareness”)
• Reader: Pope Urban II (“Calls for a Crusade”)
• Reader: Hodgson (“The Impact of the Great Western Transmutation”)

June 28

European imperial expansion: Knowing Egypt

• Edward Said (chapter 1, “The Scope of Orientalism”)

June 29

European imperial rule: South Asia

• Reader: Marshall Hodgson (“European World Hegemony”
• Reader: James Mill, from The History of British India
• Reader: Sir Sayyid Ahmed Khan
• Reader: Muhammad Iqbal, from Complaint and Answer
• Reader: Mohammed Jinnah

July 3

Islam in America

• Malcolm X (chapters 1, 10-13, 17)

> First essay due

July 4 No class
July 5

The Mujahidin & the Taliban

• Ahmed Rashid (Introduction, chapters 1, 6, 10-13)

July 6

Post-colonial Egypt

• Geneive Abdo (chapters 1-2, 4)

July 10

The Woman Question

• Geneive Abdo (chapter 6)
• Reader: Leila Ahmed (“Harem” & “The Harem Perfected?”)
• Ahmed Rashid (chapter 8)

> Second essay due

July 11

al-Qaeda and America

• Bruce Lincoln (pp. 1-76)

July 12

Muslims in England

• Satanic Verses (chapters I-III, V-VII, IX)

July 13

Muslims in England (cont’d ) and Antagonism ad infinitim

• Reader: from The Rusdhie File
• Reader: Bernard Lewis (“The Revolt of Islam”)
• Edward Said (chapter 3, part IV only)

July 17 > Third essay due
Required Texts

Geneive Abdo, No God But God
Bruce Lincoln, Holy Terrors
Malcolm X, An Autobiography
Ahmed Rashid, The Taliban
Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses
Edward Said. Orientalism
Reader (available at Suburban Card & Gift, 140 Main St, 347-5076; it is recommended that you call to verify availability) 

All of these texts, except for the Reader, are also on Reserve in the library.

Class Participation

This constitutes the most important part of the class because of the opportunity it affords you to discuss the issues that are of concern to you and hear those of others.  Class attendance is mandatory and students are expected to be punctual and participate in discussions.


The three paper assignments allow students the opportunity to fuse their class study with analysis of world events and communities while refining the ability to write succinctly.  Answer the question with particular emphasis on analysis (not description) in a paper only four to five pages long.  No quotes are allowed.   Please write your name only on the back of the last page and do not bother with a cover page.

Basis of Grade
Of the 1000 points which compose a grade, participation constitutes 100 points and each paper 300 points. 

Wesleyan University will make reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities.  Students should provide documentation and schedule an appointment with the Office of the Dean of the College at least two weeks before services are needed.  In each class where a student requests academic accommodations, the student must meet with the faculty member teaching the course at least one week prior to the requested accommodation. PLEASE! do not hesitate to discuss with me your needs for any accommodation.

Honor System

Students are expected to abide by the Honor System in regard to all work and participation in this class.  For details, see