University of Notre Dame

Representations of Islam

Course Number: HIST 13184-4
Instructor: Yacine Daddi Addoun

In this seminar we will examine how Islam and Muslims are portrayed in the West. We will consider the ways Islam, its prophet, and peoples are represented in the media and Hollywood and how this representation has changed over time. Readings and media examples focus on the perceived clash between Islam and the West and explore how images reflect their historical contexts and feed stereotypes and misconceptions. These representations, positive as well as negative, are part of a complex web of history and politics. We will begin with the interactions between the Islamic World and the West in Middle Ages. We will then investigate how knowledge and scientific tools coming from the world of Islam were appropriated and contributed to Europe’s renaissance. We will critically examine orientalism and colonialism and explore how Islam and Muslims are represented now. This seminar questions the historical roots and contemporary forms of Western anxieties towards Muslims and Islam. Using sources as diverse as scholarly works, literature, paintings, movies, graphic novels, and video games, we will interrogate how perceptions of Islam and Muslim developed and changed, and how they reveal the Western construction of the religious “Other.”