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Unit information: Islam in Russia in 2016/17

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Unit name Islam in Russia
Unit code RUSS30069
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Gould
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Russian
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit examines the literary cultures of Muslim Russia from the medieval period to the Soviet period. We will traverse the genres of travelogue, historical chronicle, and autobiography in translation from Arabic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish, and Russian while using these sources to make sense of local and global history. We will explore differences among genres, cultures, and historical circumstances in order to situate these manifold literatures within global Islamic culture and Russian history, and to understand how these distinct worlds interacted with each other. While our particular focus will be on the Caucasus, we will also consider Islamic writings from the Volga region, Central Asia, and European Russia. Our engagements with primary sources will be supplemented by the Russian Orientalist tradition, including the works of the Soviet scholars Ignatii Krachkovskii (1883-1951) and Vladimir Minorskii (1877-1966), to be read in Russian, alongside secondary works by Daghestani scholars from the Soviet period. While reviewing major themes in the study of Muslim-Russian literature, history, and culture, students will be exposed to the latest cutting-edge research on the Muslims of the Russian world.

Intended learning outcomes

Students will be able to demonstrate;

1) advanced skills in textual interpretation and comparative textual analysis, particularly of culturally distant texts;

2) sophisticated and wide-ranging understanding of the cultural implications of the vast geography of Russia and the former Soviet Union

3) advanced skills in cultural and historical criticism

4) an expertise in European-Muslim relations, in particular the history of European Orientalism

Teaching details

2 hour seminar per week

Assessment Details

1 x 3,000 word coursework essay (60%), testing ILOs 1-4

1 x 2,000 word commentary assignment (40%), testing ILOs 1-4, with a particular emphasis on ILO 1

Reading and References

Ahmad Ibn Fadlan, “Mission to the Volga,” in Two Arabic Travel Books: Accounts of China and India and Mission to the Volga Translated by James Montgomery (NYU Press, 2014)

Derbend-nâmeh; or, The history of Derbend, tr. from a select Turkish version and pub. with the texts and with notes, illustrative of the history, geography, antiquities, &c. &c. occurring throughout the work, by A. Kazem-Beg (St. Petersburg, Imperial academy of sciences, 1851)

Evliya Chelebi, Travels in Iran and the Caucasus, 1647 & 1654, trans. Hasan Javadi and Willem Floor (Mage Publishers, 2010)

Abbas Qoli Aqa Bakikhanov, Heavenly Rose-Garden: A History of Shirvan & Daghestan trans. Hasan Javadi and Willem Floor (Mage Publishers, 2008)

Vladimir Minorsky, A History of SharvaĚ„n and Darband in the 10th–11th centuries (Heffer, 1958)

Ignatii Krachkovsky (d. 1951), Among Arabic Manuscripts trans. Tatiana Minorsky (Brill, 1953)