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—in the Muslim world, rather than a detailed study of any one culture in which Islam is the dominant religion.

Week One

We will begin with a general introduction to Islam and the Qur’an by Dr. Bruce Lawrence, who will provide an overview of the birth and spread of Islam and the reverence for the word in the Muslim world. The week will continue with an exploration of exemplary poetic works from our four major culture areas—the Arab world, Pakistan/Urdu, Ottoman/Turkish, and Iran and Afghanistan/Farsi—through morning lectures by experts. Teachers & Writers Collaborative staff will provide afternoon “Poetry Inside Out” workshops in which we explore in depth poems from each language through close reading.

Field trips during Week One include a trip to Poets House to hear Persian and Turkish classical poetry set to music and a visit to the Islamic Center at NYU, where we will speak with Imam Khalid Latif and students about how the Center serves a diverse Muslim population.

Throughout Week One, teachers will meet with project staff advisors to discuss ideas for their final projects and will submit a short proposal at the end of the week.

Week Two

Week Two focuses on the arts of the book and the performing arts. The interrelationship between poetry and music will be studied in seminars with music specialists from Arabic, Persian, South Asian, and Turkish classical 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.

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, a day at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture to learn about the intersections of black America and Islam, and an excursion to the Indo-Persian inspired Untermyer Gardens Conservancy.

Participants will continue to attend independent project meetings with staff advisors in Week Two. Projects will be due two weeks after the institute ends.

Please click here for a tentative schedule.

  • 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).

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