Academic year
2017/2018 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
LM2210 (AF:252337 AR:107798)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Master's Degree Programme (DM270)
Educational sector code
2nd Semester
Course year
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The course aims at providing the student with a knowledge of the complexity of urban entities in the Islamic world, between past and present. The course aims at analysing the formation of the city through the examination of a number of highly significant cases. The morphology of the urban form and its evolution will be discussed in the light of major political, economic, social and cultural changes. The course will also reconstruct the history of the concept of the 'Islamic City' and it will discuss contemporary views on the subject.
Through the analysis of the documentation available at present (historical, architectural, archaeological), the course will try to identify and examine the leading factors in shaping urban forms and structures in several model cities of the Islamic world.
The legacy of the tradition and the innovations (for example: the abandonment of the orthogonal model, the introduction of the citadel) will be discussed in the context of the new society shaped by major political, economic, social and cultural elements. The semiotic of the urban and domestic space in the Islamic societies will be also dealt with. The case of three capitals will be presented in detail: Cairo, Dubai, and Istanbul.
The course will also critically review the rich body of literature on the concept of the Islamic City, from the 19th century Orientalists’ view to contemporary academic formulations.
A complete definitive list will be provided at the end of the course. Most of the bibliographic material will be uploaded in moodle or it will be available in the Ca' Foscari libraries:

J. Abu-Lughod, The Islamic City: Historical Myth, Islamic Essence, and Contemporary Relevance,”International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 19, No. 2, May, 1987, pp. 155-176 (pdf)

M. Apaydin, Islamic city: a rhetorical argument or a political tool?, Al-Machriq, 2015, V. 89/1, pp. 313-328 (pdf)

Gideon Avni, “From Polis to Madina” Revisited – Urban Change in Byzantine and early Islamic Palestine, JRAS, Series 3, 21, 3 (2011), pp. 301–329 (pdf)

Jere L. Bacharach,The court-citadel: an Islamic urban symbol of power, in Urbanism in Islam, III, Tokyo 1989, pp. 206-245 (pdf)

D. Behrens-Abouseif, S. Denoix, J.-Cl. Garcin, Le Caire, in Grandes villes méditerranéennes du monde musulman médiéval, Roma, 2000, pp. 177-203 (pdf)

Doris Behrens-Abouseif, The Mamluk City, in AAVV, The City in the Islamic World, Leiden and Boston, 2008, pp. 295-316 (pdf)

P. Cuneo, Storia dell’Urbanistica. Il mondo Islamico, Bari, 1986, pp. 368-378 (pdf)
Deeba Haider, The growing pains of Dubai: a city in search of its identity, in AAVV, The city in the Islamic World, Leiden and Boston, 2008, pp. 1063-1084 (pdf)

H. Inalcik, Istanbul, EI2: solo gli argomenti trattati, e cioè paragrafi 2-5 (pdf)

H. Kennedy, From polis to madina: Urban change in late antique and early Islamic Syria, Past and Present 106, 1985, pp. 3-27 (pdf)

Keith Olroyd-Robinson, The urban architecture of al bastakiyyah, in Salma Samar Damluji (ed.), The architecture of the Arab United Emirates, Reading (UK), 2006, pp. 179-196 (pdf)

Z. Othman, R. Aird, L. Buys, Privacy, modesty, hospitality, and the design of Muslim homes: a literature review, Frontiers of Architectural Research 4, 2015, pp. 12–23 (pdf)

D. Pinson, Un habitat ‘occidentalisé’ subverti par la ‘tradition’, in Monde Arabe, Maghreb-Machreq 143, 1994/1, pp. 190-203 (pdf)

A.F. Sayyed e R.-P. Gayraud, Fustat-Le Caire à l’époque fatimide, in Grandes villes méditerranéennes du monde musulman médiéval, Roma, 2000, pp. 135-156 (pdf)

Serena Vicari, Che cosa è la città, Dispensa di Sociologia, Milano Bicocca (pdf)

S. Yerasimos, Istanbul, VIII. Monuments, EI2 supplementi (pdf)
The student is required to submit an essay at least one week before the day of the oral examination. This essay will have to focus on a specific city, with the previous agreement of the teacher (35% of final mark).

At the oral examination the student will be required to illustrate the topics treated in the course of the lectures, with the help of images if necessary (65 % of final mark).
The course will be illustrated with images and specific documentation; the power points will be made available in the ISA material web-page. A number of discussion sessions are scheduled throughout the course; students are encouraged to contribute to the structure and topics of the discussion sessions as part of their course requirements; they will also have to develop a research paper to be presented in class.
An essay should be submitted to undertake the oral examination. See above for details
  • Course with sustainable contents
  • Lecture notes, material for reference or for self-assessment available online or as e-book
Last update of the programme: 06/02/2018