Monday, August 09, 2010

History of Shi'ism

HIS 492: History of Shi’ism
Tuesdays, 6:30 – 9:15 p.m.
Dr. Brian Ulrich

Office: 201 Dauphin Humanities Center, ex. 1736
Office Hours: MWF 10:00 – 10:50, 12:00-12:50, also by appointment

Required Books

The Shi’ites: A Short History, Heinz Halm
A Short History of the Isma’ilis: Traditions of a Muslim Community, Farhad Daftary
The Mantle of the Prophet: Religion and Politics in Iran, Roy Mottahedeh
Sacred Space and Holy War: The Politics, Culture and History of Shi’ite Islam, Juan Cole
The Shi’is of Iraq, Yitzhak Nakash
The Shi’a Revival, Vali Nasr

Electronic reserves found on Blackboard

Course description

In this class, we will study the history of Shi’ite Islam from its origins to the present day, with some concentration on the Middle East. One major theme will be the way religion is interwoven with social, cultural, economic, political, and other dimensions of life, and thus varies dramatically across time and space. This is linked to the continuous dynamism and fluidity of the Shi’ite tradition, a view of religious history which can be extended well beyond Shi’ism or Islam.

In addition to class participation, evaluation will involve four 2-3 page “short papers” as noted on the syllabus, a quiz over Islamic terms, a 4-page book review on a relevant scholarly book, a 16-page research paper on a topic of your choosing, a short presentation over that topic, and a light final exam. Details of these assignments are forthcoming. Attendance is required, and for each absence over one you will lose 15% off of your participation grade. Participation is not limited to attendance. Late assignments will be penalized on the grade for that assignment, as will failure to meet a deadline for the research paper topic or abstract.

If you feel you may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability, you should contact me privately to discuss your specific needs at least 72 hours prior to the activity which requires the accommodation. If you have not already done so, you must contact the Office of Disability Services. This office is responsible for determining reasonable and appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities on a case-by-case basis, and more generally, for ensuring that members of the community with disabilities have access to Shippensburg’s programs and services. They also assist students in identifying and managing the factors that may interfere with learning and in developing strategies to enhance learning. I cannot approve an accommodation without you registering.

Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated and handled according to Shippensburg procedures. Any text taken from another source in an assignment must be noted with quotation marks and the original source indicated. In the research paper, all information, regardless of whether exact words are used, must be cited via footnotes.


Participation – 20%
Terms quiz – 5%
Short Papers – 20%
Book review – 10%
Research paper – 27%
Research presentation – 8%
Final Exam – 10%

Schedule of Readings and Major Assignments

August 31: Course Intro, Early Islam

September 7: The Beginnings of Shi’ism

Halm, 1-85
Nasr, 17-61
Jonathan Berkey, “The Beginnings of Sectarianism” and “Shi’ism” The Formation of Islam, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 83-90, 130-140
Tabari, trans. I.K.A. Howard, pp. 65-90

September 14: Shi’ism in the High Middle Period

Islamic terms quiz
Halm, 87-106
Nasr, 63-80
Daftary, 1-62
S.H.M. Jafri, “The Doctrine of the Imamate,” Origins and Early Development of Shi’a Islam, (New York: Longman,1979), pp. 289-316

September 21 – The Isma’ilis

Short paper due
Daftary, 63-216

September 28: Safavid and Post-Safavid Shi’ism

Halm, 107-78
Jean Calmard, “Shi’i Rituals and and Power II. The Consolidation of Safavid Shi’ism: Folklore and Popular Religion,” Safavid Persia, ed. Charles Melville, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 139-71
Ruth Roded, “Shi’i Martyrology: The Death of Fatima, Daughter of the Prophet,” Women in Islam and the Middle East: A Reader, 2nd Edition, (London: I.B. Tauris, 2008), pp. 58-73

October 5: Modern Iran I

Mottahedeh, pp. 1-186 (short paper due)

October 12 – FALL BREAK

October 19: Modern Iran II

Book review due
Mottahedeh, finish book

October 26: Shi’ism in International Context I

Cole, pp. 1-122

November 2: Shi’ism in International Context II

Short paper due
Cole, finish book
Liyakat Nathani Takim, “The American Shi’i Community: Ethnicity and Identity,” Shi’ism in America, (New York: New York University Press, 2009), pp. 49-96
Augustus Richard Norton, “Shi’ism and Social Protest in Lebanon,” Shi’ism and Social Protest, ed. Juan R.I. Cole and Nikki R. Keddie, (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1986), pp. 156-78

November 9: Modern Iraq I

Nakash, 1-140

November 16: Modern Iraq II

Short paper due
Nakash, finish book

November 23: Contemporary Issues

Nasr (entire book)

November 30: Presentation of Student Research

Research reading only

December 7: Presentations of Student Research

Research paper due

Final Exam: Scheduled by university later in the semester

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Anonymous First said...

That course looks great - where can I sign up?

Juan Cole's book's excellent. Provocative? Absolutely.

11:41 AM  
Blogger Brian Ulrich said...

Is this Cole book really that provocative?

10:56 PM  
Anonymous First said...

Well, he seems to be suggesting that Twelver Shiaism in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain is the result of Sunni rule. He could be right, but it's not a position that sits particularly comfortably with either Shia or Sunni narratives in the region.

And his focus on the centrality of the relationship between the Shia ulema and 'gangsterism' and 'gangster bosses' isn't something you're likely to read in 'Shia Islam: the official history'.

8:05 AM  
Anonymous Brian said...

That makes sense. I was thinking of things my students would find provocative.

7:28 PM  

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