Fall 2023 History GU4711 section 001


Call Number 10380
Day & Time
W 10:10am-12:00pm
302 Fayerweather
Points 4
Grading Mode Standard
Approvals Required None
Instructor Tunc Sen
Method of Instruction In-Person
Course Description

This seminar is designed to explore the rich but sorely understudied occult scientific lore in the pre-modern Islamic world. For over a millennium, from the seventh through even the twenty-first century, and spanning a broad geographical spectrum from the Nile to Oxus, different forms and praxis of occult scientific knowledge marked intellectual and political endeavors, everyday lives and customs, and faith-based matters of individuals constituting the so-called Islamicate world. However, despite the impressive array of textual, material, and visual sources coming down to us from the Muslim past, the topic has been severely marginalized under the post-Enlightenment definitions of scientific knowledge, which also shaped how the history of sciences in the Islamicate world was written in the last century. One of this seminar’s main objectives is to rehabilitate such biased perspectives through a grand tour of occult knowledge and practice appealed in the pre-modern Muslim world.

Over the semester, by relying on a set of secondary studies and translated primary sources, we will revisit the question of the marginalization of Islamicate occult sciences, explore the actors’ definitions and discussions about the epistemic value of these sciences, trace their social and political implications in everyday life and imperial politics, and examine the key textual, technical, and material aspects of the occult tradition. In several of our sessions, we will have hands-on practice to better familiarize ourselves with the instructed techniques and methods in different branches of occult sciences. We will also regularly visit the Columbia University Rare Book & Manuscript Library to view texts and materials available in our collection.

Web Site Vergil
Department History
Enrollment 16 students (15 max) as of 6:07PM Friday, July 12, 2024
Status Full
Subject History
Number GU4711
Section 001
Division Interfaculty
Section key 20233HIST4711W001