Courses I teach emphasize a globally comparative approach to artistic practices and their social, political, and cultural significance. At a time when the political discourse on east-west relations is becoming increasingly vexed, my courses strive to counter these reductive images of faraway others by helping students—who often come from multi-cultural backgrounds themselves—understand the complexities of Islamic and non-western regions through an accessible visual language. In my courses, I help students develop their visual analysis and critical thinking tools, which are not only important for understanding graphic conventions across a variety of media, cultures and periods, but can also be taken beyond the classroom to help students in their own work and respective fields. Students not only benefit from my courses' visually-dynamic lectures and discussions, but also develop an understanding of art history's relevance to the present moment by exploring the course material beyond the classroom walls via visits to museums, galleries and special collections as well as discussions of relevant digital, online and social media.
Printing Before Gutenberg: The Visual Culture of Print Technologies in Asia and the Middle East
Spring 2009 | Undergraduate Course | ARTH 282A | Binghamton University
This course repositions the role of non-European regions in the development of printing by exploring the history of print culture in Asia and the Middle East prior to and after the development of Gutenberg’s printing press in the 1400s. Objects examined in this course range from 6th century East Asian Buddhist prints to printed Qur'ans and Arabic bibles produced between the 16th – 19th centuries on "oriental" presses in Europe and missionary/colonial presses in the Middle East and Asia. These examples serve as the basis from which to question a Eurocentric history of printing, and to consider how aspects of European/American print culture were received and adopted within the realms of non-western book production. Scholarship on the subject of printing in Asia and the Middle East is closely examined for its use of historical models and categories such as colonialism, tradition, modernity and religion in order to understand and problematize the framework within which the history of non-European printing has been situated.
Patterns + Arabesques: East-West Debates on the Decorative Arts since 1700
Spring 2010 | Undergraduate Course | ARTH 282C | Binghamton University
Islamic and Asian visual culture and design have inspired European and American design principles since the eighteenth century, serving as the templates for the patterns of wallpaper, carpets, textiles, decorative objects and architectural structures. This course explores cultural encounters between Europe, the Ottoman world and Asia since the 1700s that shaped the image of the “east” in Europe and Britain via their consumption of Orientalist paintings, travel literature and non-western material objects. We trace themes that engaged theoretical debates on the decorative arts and explore shifting approaches to the study and analysis of Islamic and Asian ornaments and patterns in the west. These theories are examined through the writings of John Ruskin, Adolf Loos, and Alois Riegl, as well the more recent perspectives of Oleg Grabar, Yasser Tabbaa and Eva Baer that move beyond previous discussions of taxonomy, functionalism and modernity by emphasizing issues of cross-cultural exchange, perception, utilization and cultural significance.
Islamic Art + Modernity: Nineteenth-Century Art, Architecture, and Material Culture from the Islamic World
AHIS 224 | AUB | Upper-division Undergraduate Seminar
This course explores the debates surrounding and historiography of art, architecture and material culture produced during the nineteenth century throughout the Islamic realms. This was a period during which international communities saw a growth in industrial economies, global politics and European empires. During this transformative era, urban centers in the Islamic world including Isfahan, Cairo, Istanbul and Beirut served as key centers for state modernization reforms, industrialization, increased global exchange and secular intellectual movements like nationalism. This course will explore the complex dynamics of such endeavors through the visual and urban dimensions of the art, material culture and architecture of these cities. We will consider local perceptions of modernity, often marked by attempts at distinguishing progress from traditional practice, and how these views related to or diverged from those of the European, British and American colonialists/missionaries in the region. This study will also extend to relevant aspects of Westernization, Orientalism and the politics of identity, including cultures of display and archeology. Such explorations will help us consider the role European and American entities played in local modernization efforts and how the evolving needs of resident urban societies served as the real impetus for widespread change. These ideas will be examined through a combination of images and readings organized along the following themes: urban reform & architectural developments, developments in painting & photography, the changing book arts & the emergence of publishing and the functions of exhibitions and museums in nationalist discourse.