This graduate seminar explores the Prophet Muhammad's significance in Muslim life, thought, and artistic expression from the beginning of Islam to today. It pays particular attention to procedures of sanctification and abstraction, stressing in turn that a fruitful approach to extant textual and visual materials is one that emphasizes the harnessing of Muhammad's persona as a larger metaphor to explain both past and present historical events, to build and delineate a sense of community, and to help individuals conceive of and communicate with the realm of the sacred. We will examine texts, images, and oral practices stemming from Arabic, Persian, and Turkic cultural spheres over the course of a thousand years. The texts and images include most especially illustrated biographies, world histories, devotional poems, epic tales, books of Muhammad's ascension, genealogies, relics of the Prophet, verbal icons, popular prints, murals, children's books, and animated movies. Many of the materials that will be discussed remain unknown, poorly studied, or unpublished today.
Estimated cost of materials, less than $50.