Fall 2010
Fully Enrolled

Islam and/in the West - Foundational Course Option

Gottschalk,Peter S.

09/13/2010 - 12/10/2010
Tuesday 07:00 PM - 09:30 PM

Public Affairs Center 421

Foundational course option: Students taking the course with this option will receive more extensive and detailed feedback on their work through more frequent writing assignments and individual meetings with the instructor. Foundational courses are intended to provide an additional level of guidance, support, and feedback to ensure that students cultivate the tools and skills necessary for graduate level research and writing. All GLSP students working toward a degree are strongly encouraged to take a foundational course during their first few courses in the program. To choose the Foundational course option, please register for SOCS 612W.

Is there a "clash of civilizations" between Islam and the West? What distinguishes the two and why the conflict? This course, which assumes no familiarity with Islam, explores these questions and their assumptions. Through a historical and thematic exploration, we will look at the question of "difference," asking what interests have been served by defining Islam as different. We will also survey the cultural, religious, and political dimensions of Islamic and western interaction at specific historical moments. These will include Arab imperialism, the Crusades, the Spanish Reconquista, European imperialism, Zionism, Islamist revivalism, and the War against Terrorism.

As the course unfolds, we will pay particular attention to the mounting inertia of the perception that conflict is inevitable--as expressed in the stereotypes, caricatures, and symbols used to depict Muslims as other. We will examine the discourse used by various sides that construct "Islam" and "the West" from their particular cultural experiences in order to serve their specific political goals. Meanwhile, we will unpack the categories of differentiation that underlie these notions to demonstrate the many and shifting intersections of historical identities and interests.

Class Participation 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.

Enrollment is limited to 2 students. This course is not open to auditors.

The deadline to withdraw and receive a tuition refund for this course is Friday, September 17 at 5:00 pm.

A syllabus for this course is available at:

Peter Gottschalk (BA College of the Holy Cross; MA University of Wisconsin-Madison; PHD University of Chicago) is professor of religion at Wesleyan University. His research and teaching concentrate on the confluence of religious cultures in South Asia, with a particular focus on Muslims and Hindus in contemporary rural India. His work investigates issues of identity, social memory, modernity, and epistemology. Among other works, he has written Beyond Hindu and Muslim: Multiple Identity in Narratives from Village India (2000), co-written Islamophobia: Making Muslims the Enemy (2007), and co-designed the interactive website "A Virtual Village" (2001). Click here for more information about Peter Gottschalk and click here for more information about his work.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 2

Texts to purchase for this course:
Yvonne Haddad, et. al., Muslim Women in America: The Challenge of Islamic Identity Today (0195177835)

Ahmed Rashid, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia (0300089023)

Bruce Lawrence, Messages to the World (1844670457)

Timothy Mitchell, Colonising Egypt (0520075684)

Salman Rushdie, Satanic Verses (0812976711)

Joan Wallach Scott, The Politics of the Veil (0691125430)

Malcolm X,Autobiography of Malcolm X (0345350685)

Reader: Available at PIP Printing, 179 Main Street, Middletown, CT


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