The Golden Age of the Arab

Moderators: Jim Harvey and Pete Reitt
Time: Mondays, 10:00 am–noon
Place: Smith College, Lilly Hall, Room 308, Northampton
Parking: You will be issued a Smith College campus parking permit

Provide a broad overview of the rise and fall of Arab culture

The Arab world is the focus of many of today’s headlines. Wars, conflicts, terrorism dominate the stories about Arab countries. As a result, many Americans are unaware of the rich history of the Arab people and their amazing contributions to world culture. For at one time Arab science and culture were far ahead of Europe’s. Such words as “Algebra” and “Chemistry” are derived from Arabic, and bear witness to the contributions Arab scientists and mathematicians made to science.

In this seminar we will trace the rise of the Arab empire from Mohamed’s day to its glory days when it stretched from India to Spain and when Baghdad and Cordoba were the intellectual centers of the world. We will examine its amazing military and political expansion after the death of Mohamed, as well as the Arab’s cultural accomplishments in literature, science, visual arts, etc.

Examples of seminar presentations: The Career of Mohamed, The First Caliphs, Baghdad, Cordoba, Arab Math and Science, The Koran, Arab Poetry, The Book of the Thousand and One Nights, Architecture, Music, Saladin and the Crusaders, Contributions to Western Culture. Note: This is essentially a repeat of the seminar offered in 2010 entitled History of the Arabs.

Format: Seminar

Role of participants: Each participant is expected to (1) read the text (2) deliver a half hour presentation and lead a discussion about it, and (3) participate in discussion of other presentations.

Number of participants (including the moderators): 17

Resources: TBD

The Moderators: Jim Harvey: My interest in the Arab world began as a result of my time in Pakistan, which though not Arab, is very much a part of the Islamic community that is derived from the Arab empires. Pete Reitt: I, like all Americans over the past decade or so, find myself forced to learn more about the Arab world; this seminar should provide a good foundation in that quest!