Beloved Adversary: Islam in the Making of Western Culture

Presented by Thomas Burman
While Islam has often been seen as European/Western Civilization's great enemy, and while there has intermittently been bloody confrontation between Christians and Muslims, Islam has also been, especially in the pre-modern world, deeply admired by Europeans for its great scientific, philosophical, and technical sophistication, for its grand literary tradition, and for its alluring architecture and art. Indeed, Islam--Western Christendom's beloved adversary-played a formative and essential role in the creation of the culture we call Western. This seminar will consist of a series of case-studies of the influence of Islamic Civilization on the West, ranging from the technology of the astrolabe (the mobile phone of the medieval world), to the Islamicized architecture of Christian Spain, to the terrific Arab stories retold in countless European languages, to the Arab-Islamic names of Shriner Temples (and the North-African head dress of their members).

About Thomas Burman
Thomas E. Burman is Robert M. Conway Director of the Medieval Institute and professor of history. An expert on Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations in the Middle Ages, his works include Religious Polemic and the Intellectual History of the Mozarabs, 1050-1200 and Reading the Qur'an in Latin Christendom, 1140-1560. With Brian Catlos and Mark Meyerson, he is the author of the forthcoming The Sea in the Middle: Mediterranean Civilization, 650-1650, and is currently writing a book entitled Ramon Marti, the Bookish Religions, and Scholastic Thought.