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Muslims in American Religious History: Comparative Perspectives on Race, Gender, and Politics*
What makes Muslims an American religious minority? How have they shaped American religious history together with other groups? How have religious minorities participated in the American republic? And what can they learn from each other’s experiences? This course is an exploration into the history and contemporary life of a particular religious minority in conversation with parallel stories of other groups. Spanning the period from the late 18th to the early 21st century, we will examine Muslim engagements with quintessential themes of American life, such as race, freedom, gender and politics. We will approach each of these themes from a comparative standpoint, reflecting specifically on African-American, Jewish, Catholic and Buddhist experiences.
Thursdays from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., beginning January 26
Grading will be based on
1. Weekly reflections/ "talking points" (30%)
2. Mid-term essay (20%) - due date TBA
3. Class presentation (10%)
4. Final essay (30%) - due date TB
5. Class participation (10%).
1) Weekly Reflections:
You will be expected to analyze and discuss the assigned readings at each session. Weekly reflections will be your "talking points." They will help you organize your thoughts and prepare for each class.
2) Our class meets on Thursdays at 6:30 pm. You will be required to email me your reflection by 12:00 pm on the day of the class. (No late submissions will be accepted. This is due to the fact that I will need to review all of your reflections before class.) Each reflection must be around 2 pages (a bit less or a bit more does not matter). Please approach each reflection as a dialogue between you and the readings. In other words, what are your thoughts on one or two points an author makes? What are some questions that have arisen while you read the assignment?
It is up to you to shape each reflection. Some possible ways may be to
- Reflect on an idea you found intriguing
- Explore how an author presents a particular theme
- Think through implications of a particular idea (don't make it too broad)
- Compare between this and previous weeks' readings.
- Trace how this week's reading speaks to a theme we have encountered earlier.
Make sure that each reflection contains 2 or 3 written questions to be asked in class.
You will be required to start submitting reflections as of our 2nd session. The grade for this assignment will be based on the quantity and quality of your submissions. I will return printed copies of your reflection with a grade of either a "+" or a " -." Plus stands for pass, and minus for fail.
The scale for the final evaluation will be as follows:
A= 12 passing entries
B= 9 passing entries
C+ = 7 passing entries
C= 6 passing entries
F= 5 or fewer passing entries.
No late submissions will be accepted. There will be no way to make up for missed reflections.
2) Midterm and Final Essays:
You will have to submit two essays during the semester. The midterm essay should be 5-7 pages in length. The final essay should be 10-12 pages. I will assign the topic for the midterm paper. However, you will be responsible for selecting the subject of your final essay. Please feel free to contact me with your ideas for both papers at any stage of preparation.
Grading standards for the essays will be:
A = Excellent. Excellent presentation and analysis that demonstrates original interpretation.
B = Good. Solid command of facts and good attempt at analysis.
C+ = Adequate in the sense of doing minimal compliance with the assignment.
C = Poor; did not complete the assignment adequately but shows some effort.
F = Failing; did not complete the assignment.
3) Class Presentation:
At the end of semester, we will hold three sessions where each student will present and defend their proposal for the final essay. In the week when you present your proposal, you will not be required to submit a reflection. Instead, you will e-mail me your proposal, which must include: a) preliminary title; b) thesis statement (1 paragraph); c) brief outline of your analysis; d) bibliography.
1) Kambiz GhaneaBassiri, A History of Islam in America: From the New World to the New World Order (Cambridge University Press, 2010) Buy now
2) Michael A. Gomez, Black Crescent: The Experience and Legacy of African Muslims in the Americas (Cambridge University Press, 2005) Buy now
3) Edward Curtis, editor, The Columbia Sourcebook of Muslims in the United States (Columbia University Press, 2008) Buy now
4) John T. McGreevy, Catholicism and American Freedom: A History (W.W. Norton & Company, 2003) Buy now
5) Wendy Cadge, Heartwood: The First Generation of Theravada Buddhism in America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004) Buy now
6) Amina Wadud, Inside the Gender Jihad: Women's Reform in Islam (Oneworld Publications, 2006) Buy now
7) Shuly Schwartz, The Rabbi's Wife: The Rebbetzin in American Jewish Life (New York University Press, 2006) Buy now
Additional material: audio, video or short readings - will be assigned as a part of preparation for each class ession.