This field is devoted to the study of Islamic beliefs, practices, and institutions within the cultural and historical context of Muslim societies. Applicants should have advanced preparation in Arabic and/or other languages relating to their proposed areas of interest. Students in this field are encouraged to make use of the resources provided by various other departments and programs, including but not limited to the Departments of Near Eastern Studies, History, Anthropology, Comparative Literature and Classics, as well as the Programs in South Asian and Gender & Sexuality Studies.
Students normally work with all faculty in the subfield. Students are expected to choose an advisor by the end of their first year, though they remain free to change advisors after this. Although students usually take a range of courses, the only required courses prior to the generals are REL 501 and REL 502. All students are expected to acquire proficiency in reading Arabic, to be certified by a member of the subfield. Competency in the relevant research languages (to be determined in consultation with the advisor) is also required. In addition, students are also required to complete a language exam for reading proficiency in French or German.
The General Examination in this field consists of four exams in the following categories: Two of these exams are historical and cover topics in the history of pre-modern and modern Islamic societies, from the seventh century up to contemporary times; the third is on Islamic thought (e.g. law, theology, gender, Sufism, Qur’an); and the fourth is a methodological paper relating to the student’s chosen area of research that also demonstrates familiarity with recent work in other fields such as anthropology, history, philosophy, politics, and literary theory.
The advisor must approve the specific topics and readers for the generals, as well as confirm completion of the generals. Any of the faculty in the subfield may read the medieval or modern exam. Students can opt to do one general exam with Professor Marmon, one with Professor Zaman and one with Professor Thaver. Each of the four exams or papers must be read by a different examiner.
To move forward with scheduling the dissertation proposal defense the student needs the approval of the advisor and the consent of the director of graduate studies.
Final Public Oral:
When the dissertation is submitted, the advisor must normally sign off on it and two readers deemed qualified by the DGS, not necessarily from the department, must submit positive reports for the final public oral to be held.
For additional information about the Islam subfield, download our brochure.