NEH Institute



A Summer Scholars Institute for Teachers
July 10th – 23rd, 2016
New York, NY

March 1, 2016
(Notification by March 31, 2016)


Wazir Khan Mosque in Reflection, a painting by Samina Quraeshi, courtesy of Samina Quraeshi

City Lore, in collaboration with Poets House and the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at NYU, presents A Reverence for Words: Understanding Muslim Cultures through the Arts, a two-week NEH Summer Scholars Institute for K-12 teachers. The institute will examine the high regard for poetry and its relationship to music and to the art of the book in several cultures of the Muslim world, both historically and in contemporary society. It draws on the arts from the Arab world, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and West Africa to give teachers, and ultimately their students, an opportunity to deepen their understanding and knowledge of Muslim cultures and the contributions of Islamic civilizations to world literature, history, and culture.

Just as American movies and popular culture have created pathways to understanding the United States for those abroad, poetry’s centrality in many Muslim cultures makes it a powerful vehicle for exploring and understanding those cultures. Poetry’s potential to create indelible images, to extend the reach of language, and to express complex ideas and feelings through metaphor makes it a powerful force for illuminating cultural experiences.

The Institute includes talks by prominent scholars, musical performances, poetry readings of both classical and contemporary work, workshops on classroom ideas you can use, and a chance to explore cultural sites in New York City, including a tour by curators of the Islamic Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This journey through poetry and music will immerse you in rich and inspiring Islamic cultural forms, both ancient and modern, and give you tools to engage your students with literature and music that have helped shape the world.


A Reverence for Words draws on two NEH-funded programs created by City Lore and Poets House: Illuminated Verses: Poetries of the Islamic World, a series of talks, readings, panels, and symposia held in the spring of 2011 in New York City; and Poetic Voices of the Muslim World (2012-present), a project which examines the central role of poetry in the everyday lives of Muslim men and women through three entry points: a website, a speakers bureau, and an exhibit on Muslim poetry, which has traveled to ten public libraries in American cities.

This institute employs the expertise of humanities scholars who specialize in the cultures featured as well as that of several of New York’s pre-eminent arts organizations: City Lore, which presents traditional music, art, and ethnographic films in New York along with developing successful models for integrating traditional arts and artists into the core curricula in K-12 schools; Poets House, which presents poetry, both at their site and in partnership with libraries across the U.S. through their Poetry in the Branches program; Teachers & Writers Collaborative, which offers innovative creative writing programs for students and teachers and provides resources to support learning through the literary arts.

Contact Us

Sahar Muradi, Coordinator of Poetry Programs, 212.529.1955 x18
Dr. Amanda Dargan, Director of Education,


Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities

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