NEH Institute

Schedule & Readings



Overview of Schedule
The institute’s approach is a broad one, introducing the richness and diversity of Muslim cultures. We will offer a survey of the role of the word—written, spoken, sung, and illuminated across many societies, rather than a detailed study of any one culture in which Islam is the dominant religion. Following is an overview of the institute. For an up-to-date, detailed schedule, CLICK HERE.

Week One

The first week will take place primarily at the NYU Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies in the West Village of Manhattan. We will begin with a general introduction to Islam and the Qur’an, providing an overview of the birth and spread of Islam, with a focus on the Americas, and then turn to the reverence for the word in Muslim cultures. The week will continue with an exploration of exemplary poetic works from four major culture areas—the Arab world, Pakistan/Urdu, Ottoman/Turkish, and Iran and Afghanistan/Farsi—through lectures by academic experts. Teachers & Writers Collaborative staff will conduct a “Poetry Inside Out” workshop on translating contemporary works.

Field trips during Week One include a trip to the Islamic Cultural Center, attending a poetic duel and poetry reading, Jummah Prayer and conversation with the imam at the Islamic Center at NYU, and a visit to the Indo-Persian-inspired gardens of the Untermyer Park & Gardens. 

Throughout Week One, teachers will have ample time to work on their final projects and to meet with the Project Directors to discuss their ideas.

Week Two

The second week will take place primarily at City Lore in the East Village of Manhattan. Week Two focuses on visual and performing arts. The interrelationship between poetry and music will be studied in seminars with music specialists from Middle Eastern, Central, and South Asian traditions. A session with Dr. Sylviane Diouf will link the vocal traditions centered around the Muslim call to prayer in West Africa to the blues traditions of the American South. We will also explore the art of the book, including illuminated manuscripts.

Field trips during Week Two include a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where participants will explore the museum’s extensive Islamic Wing through a curator-led tour, and walking tours of two Muslim communities in Harlem and in Bay Ridge. We will conclude the program with a closing dinner at the iconic Tanoreen Restaurant.

Participants will continue to attend independent project meetings with Project Directors and to work  on their final projects during Week 2. Projects will be due by the last day of the Institute. We understand that Summer Scholars may wish to continue to refine their lesson plans beyond the Institute; however, a final draft for our purposes is due at the end of the Institute.


  • Preparatory materials: In preparation for the institute, participants are asked to review the Poetic Voices of the Muslim World web exhibit and PBS’s documentary Islam: Empire of Faith, the latter of which will be sent in a packet to accepted Summer Scholars.
  • Readings for the institute: Key readings for the institute will be short articles and poems selected by the faculty and made available to accepted Summer Scholars through our institute Wikipage (coming soon).



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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