Lo/56k Hi/300k
HomeSubjectsResourcesE-SeminarsE-CoursesColumbia University
Browse according to your interestsClass websites, webcasts, and more
Short courses free to ColumbiaFor-credit coursesColumbia new media initiatives
Columbia InteractiveSite MapSearchHelp
E-Seminars: E-Seminar Detail

E-Seminars in This Series

E-Seminar 1
Battles and Bibles: 1776–1913

E-Seminar 2
Wars and Fantasies 1914–1960

E-Seminar 3
Getting It Wrong: 1953–1979

E-Seminar 4
The Voice of Islam: 1979–1991

E-Seminar 5
A Moment of Inclusion

America and the Muslim World
A Series of Five E-Seminars

Taught by Richard Bulliet

E-Seminar Description
Over the course of this five-part series, America and the Muslim World, Professor Richard Bulliet, a leading scholar of modern Islam, examines the legacy of misunderstanding between the two cultures.

Bulliet begins with the forgotten Barbary wars that took place more than a century ago between America and Muslim countries in North Africa. He then chronicles Americans' gradual exposure to the Muslim world—through missionary contact; diplomatic missions after World War I and, after World War II, misguided American scholarship about the Muslim world; business and tourist travel in the 1970s; and the terrorist attacks of the last decade, which have led many Americans to mistakenly associate Islam with terrorism. Bulliet also considers the emergence of a significant Muslim population in the United States through immigration (primarily from the Middle East and Southeast Asia) and conversion (primarily among African Americans). Finally, Bulliet discusses how Americans have reflected in their popular culture their fascination with the Muslim world.

Series Length:20 hours
Start Date:Anytime
Columbia Students, Faculty, Staff, and Alumni:FREE
Interested in this
Go to the series now.

E-Seminar Objectives | Outline | Instructor's Background | Recommended Reading | Additional Information | Technical Requirements

E-Seminar Objectives
•    Learn about a series of largely unknown events in America's history.

•    Examine the deep roots of the negative feelings Americans often harbor toward the Islamic world.

•    Study how teaching about the Islamic world has changed over time in the United States.

•    Trace how Americans' understanding of Islam has affected U.S. foreign policy.

•    Contrast American policy toward the Middle East in the post-World War I period with the post-World War II period.

•    Raise awareness of the historical tendency among Americans to misunderstand Islam and the Muslim world.

•    Introduce students to the history of Islam in the United States.

•    Put into perspective key events in the history of relations between the United States and the Muslim world.

•    Help students appreciate and understand American Muslim traditions.

•    Explore the continuing legacy of American academic and popular misunderstandings of the Muslim world.

•    Help students understand the political movements and events that led to the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001.

•    Look at the terrorist attacks from the perspective both of the Muslim community in the United States and of Muslims around the world.

•    Explore how American academics and popular media have sought to understand the Muslim world.

back to top

E-Seminar 1
1. First Encounters
2. The Nineteenth Century
3. The Missionaries
4. Legacy of Misperceptions
5. Conclusion

E-Seminar 2
1. Before World War I
2. World War I
3. Into the Muslim World
4. Contrasting Aftermaths
5. Foreign-Area Studies
6. The Two World Wars
7. Conclusion

E-Seminar 3
1. Muslim Worlds
2. Israel and the Arabs
3. Changing View of the Middle East
4. Religion and Government
5. New Leadership
6. Iranian Revolution

E-Seminar 4
1. First U.S. Muslims
2. Iranian Revolution
3. Academic Response
4. Media and Islam
5. Other Wars
6. Stocktaking
7. New Awareness

E-Seminar 5
1. A New Lens
2. American Muslims React
3. Difficult Moment
4. Toward Inclusion
5. Conclusion

back to top

Instructor's Background
Instructor's Background
Professor Richard W. Bulliet was born in Rockford, Illinois. He received his B.A. (1962), M.A. (1964), and Ph.D. (1967) degrees from Harvard University, where he taught for six years. After two years at the University of California, Berkeley, and one year as a Guggenheim Fellow, he joined the faculty of Columbia University in 1976. At Columbia he has taught all periods of Middle Eastern history; the history of technology and of domestic animals; and the core-curriculum, "great books" courses on European traditions, social and political thought, literature, and art. He served for twelve years as Director of Columbia's Middle East Institute.

Prominent among Professor Bulliet's publications are three works on Islamic social history, with an emphasis on Iran: The Patricians of Nishapur (1972), Conversion to Islam in the Medieval Period (1979), and Islam: The View from the Edge (1993). The Camel and the Wheel (1975), his book on the history of technology, won the Dexter Prize of the Society for the History of Technology. He coedited the four-volume Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East (1996). The Earth and Its Peoples: A Global History (1997), which he coauthored, has been widely adopted as a college textbook in world history. His most recent book is The Columbia History of the Twentieth Century (1998), which he conceived and edited.

Professor Bulliet has written, in addition to his scholarly work, four novels involving the modern Middle East. The Mystery Writers of America nominated his first novel, Kicked to Death by a Camel (1973), for an Edgar Award in the category of "best first mystery." He wrote The Tomb of the Twelfth Imam (1979) shortly before the Iranian revolution, which it predicted. His third novel, The Gulf Scenario (1984), describes the ease with which a determined ruler could (like Saddam Hussein) take over the countries of the Persian Gulf. His fourth and most recent novel is The Sufi Fiddle (1991).

Professor Bulliet has traveled widely and often in all parts of the Middle East and Islamic world. He served four years as Executive Secretary of the Middle East Studies Association, and one summer as faculty-in-residence at CBS, where he helped the Program Practices Division formulate network attitudes toward docudramas. He hosted the 14-part educational television series The Middle East, produced by TVOntario. He has granted hundreds of interviews to print and broadcast journalists on issues relating to the Middle East and Islam. He lives in New York City with his wife, a scholar of Vedic Sanskrit and ancient Indian religion.

back to top

Recommended Reading
Allison, Robert J. The Crescent Obscured: The United States and the Muslim World, 1776–1815. New York: New York University Press, 1995.

Chaney, Charles L. The Birth of Missions in America. Pasadena, C.A.: William Carey Library, 1976.

Christensen, Torben, and William R. Hutchison, eds. Missionary Ideologies in the Imperialist Era: 1880–1920. Aarhus, Denmark: Forlaget Aros, 1982.

Cragg, Kenneth. Sandals at the Mosque: Christian Presence Amid Islam. New York: Oxford University Press, 1959. [Unavailable at Amazon.com]

Eickelman, Dale F., and James Piscatori. Muslim Politics. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996.

Esposito, John L. Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

David Fromkin. A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East. New York: Avon Books, 1990.

Gerges, Fawaz A. America and Political Islam: Clash of Cultures or Clash of Interests? New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Haddad, Yvonne Yazbeck, ed. The Muslims of America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.

Humphreys, R. Stephen. Between Memory and Desire: The Middle East in a Troubled Age. Berkeley, C.A.: University of California Press, 1999.

Charles Issawi. Growing Up Different: Memoirs of a Middle East Scholar. Princeton, N.J.: Darwin Press, 1999.

David W. Lesch, ed. The Middle East and the United States: A Historical and Political Reassessment. 2d ed. Boulder, C.O.: Westview Press, 1999.

Metcalf, Barbara Daly, ed. Making Muslim Space in North America and Europe. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.

Munro, John M. A Mutual Concern: The Story of the American University of Beirut. Delmar, N.Y.: Caravan Books, 1977.

Thomas Naff, ed. and comp. Paths to the Middle East: Ten Scholars Look Back. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993.

Shaheen, Jack G. Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People. New York: Olive Branch Press, 2001.

Sick, Gary. All Fall Down: America's Tragic Encounter with Iran. New York: Penguin, 1986.

Turner, Richard Brent. Islam in the African-American Experience. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997.

back to top

Additional Information
Who should take this course? Teachers and students of American history, world history, and the history of religion; lifelong learners; citizens interested in world events and the reasons behind various strands of contemporary U.S. foreign policy.

Reading assignments: There are no required reading assignments in this course, though Professor Bulliet has recommended a number of books for those who wish to pursue the seminar topics further.

Taking the seminar: This seminar is delivered entirely on the Internet. You may access the seminar and participate in discussions at any time during which the seminar is open. There are no set times in which you must be online.

This seminar includes a discussion board for students to pose questions or comments related to the topics presented in the seminar. Professor Bulliet will respond to students' posts on the discussion board.

back to top

Technical Requirements
You will need to use a computer with Internet access to complete this course. We recommend the following minimum configurations:

Windows 95, 98, 2000, XP, or NT
64 MB of RAM (128 recommended)
Monitor: 800x600 resolution recommended
Connection: Internet service and 56K modem minimum
Browser: Internet Explorer 4 or above (Internet Explorer 5 strongly recommended) or Netscape 4.7 or above
Sound Card (if you can hear audio you have a sound card)
Plug-ins: RealPlayer 7 or later; Flash Player 5 or later; Acrobat Reader 5 or later
(all plug-ins are free)

MAC OS 8.6 or higher
64 MB of RAM (128 recommended)
Monitor: 800x600 resolution recommended
Connection: Internet service and 56K modem minimum
Browser: Internet Explorer 5 or above or Netscape 4.7 or above
Sound Card (if you can hear audio you have a sound card)
Plug-ins: RealPlayer 7 or later; Flash Player 5 or later; Acrobat Reader 5 or later
(all plug-ins are free)

back to top

Help   |   Privacy Policy