Representations of Islam in the West from the earliest times until the present with emphasis on enduring themes in the Western perception of Islam.
What comes to mind when you hear the word “Islam,” or the word “Muslim”? Why? What do you know about how you came to associate some ideas (and not others) with those words? Though several notable stereotypes about Islam and Muslims are deeply rooted in histories of European Christian constructions of Islam and Muslim peoples as “the Other,” their manifestation in the contemporary context is particularly unique. This paper focuses on contemporary Western representations of Islam and Muslims, both those that adhere to these stereotypes and those that attempt to push back against them, with particular emphasis on the entanglements of these representations in the racialisation, politicisation, and securitisation of Islam and Muslims post-9/11.
We begin with a consideration of some fundamental questions about Islam, its place in today’s world, and theories of representation, drawing upon the work of influential literary, cultural, and social theorists, including Edward Said, Stuart Hall, and Salman Sayyid. Students will then more closely examine some of the most salient themes in the contemporary representation of Muslims, both the outwardly negative, such as violence and intolerance, and the supposedly positive, such as diversity and moderation. This will be achieved through critical engagement with a variety of sources and cultural artefacts, including theoretical literature, policy documents, NGO reports, news coverage, and artistic production, including literature, music, poetry, and film.
|Paper title||Representing Islam|
|Teaching period(s)||Semester 1
Semester 1 (On campus)
|Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD)||$955.05|
|International Tuition Fees||Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.|
- One 200-level RELS paper
- RELS 220
- Schedule C
- Arts and Music, Theology
- Students who have not passed the normal prerequisite may be admitted with approval from the Head of Department.
Dr Mohammed El-Sayed Bushra: email@example.com
- More information link
View more information on the Religion website: www.otago.ac.nz/religion
- Teaching staff
Lecturer: Dr Mohammed El-Sayed Bushra
- Paper Structure
The paper is divided into three main parts.
The first part addresses fundamental theoretical questions relating to the study of Islam and representation theory, as well as introducing some perennial issues in contemporary Western representations of Islam and Muslims.
The second part addresses some of the most salient themes in negative Western representations of Islam and Muslims and what underlies them.
The third part addresses some of the most prominent themes in countering and pushing back against such negative stereotypes, exploring the complexities and new problems arising out of such attempts.
Students will be introduced to the work of literary, cultural, and social theorists, including Edward Said, Stuart Hall, and Salman Sayyid. They will apply theory in the critical examination of a variety of cultural artefacts, including policy documents, NGO reports, news coverage, and artistic production, including literature, music, poetry, and film.
- Critical commentary essay 10%
- Critical response to news article 10%
- Research essay 30%
- Final exam (two hours) 50%
- Teaching Arrangements
Two 1-hour lectures per week (for distance students, lectures will be recorded using Otago Capture).
Students are encouraged to purchase a copy of "How to be a Bad Muslim and Other Essays" by New Zealand author Mohamed Hassan (Auckland: Penguin New Zealand, 2022).
There is no textbook. A course outline will be available in print and PDF form. All readings for the paper will be made available on eReserve, which may be accessed via Blackboard.
- Course outline
- View the course outline for RELS 320
- Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
- Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the paper will be able to:
- Demonstrate a sound theoretical understanding of Islam as an object of study and the field of representation theory.
- Demonstrate an understanding of the function of Islamophobia in the contemporary context of the racialisation, politicisation, and securitisation of Islam and Muslims.
- Critically examine and discuss outwardly negative and supposedly positive representations of Islam and Muslims in different forms of media.
- Present an analytical argument in essay form on a chosen topic.