The Clash of Civilizations?

By Peter Kitlas in World History Islam Mediterranean

February 1, 2020

Clash PosterThomas Cole, The Course of Empire: Destruction, 1836

Course Syllabus

Click here for the course syllabus

Course Description

Despite living in an increasingly globalized society, the notion of different and opposing civilizations is still used as a way to add meaning and definition to our world. In this course, we will critically evaluate what is at stake when employing the concept of civilization. Using historical contexts from “Western” and “Near Eastern” civilizations, we will explore civilizational encounters from the Afroasiatic roots of Classical Civilization to America’s culture wars. With one foot in the past and one in the present we will seek to understand whether civilizations exist and why civilizational paradigms endure despite drawing controversy.

Sample Readings

  • Huntington, “The Clash of Civilizations”
  • Lockman, Contending Visions of the Middle East
  • Bernal, Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization
  • Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
  • Ibn Khaldun, Muqaddimah (Introduction to History)
  • Christopher MacEvitt, Rough Tolerance
  • David Nirenberg, Communities of Violence
  • Bulliet, The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization
  • Said, Orientalism
  • Osama b. Laden, Messages to the World

Student Reviews

Every class was like a new adventure. There was the perfect balance between sticking to the assigned readings and straying off on various interesting tangents and debates. There were many different formats as well that helped me stay engaged (readings, podcasts, email summaries, presentations, papers, etc.). Professor Kitlas always offered interesting perspectives on what I had to say to stretch my thinking and advance the discussion.

Professor Kitlas did a wonderful job of leading discussions. I was especially impressed by his ability to make students feel comfortable speaking, while also encouraging them to clarify their positions. This semester was particularly difficult because class had to be conducted by Zoom, but this class actually felt more interactive than most in–person classes I have taken. I especially enjoyed the small–group presentations and activities that we would do during our “practicum” once a week.

Professor Kitlas did an excellent job encouraging class discussion, involving all members of the class, communicating complex topics in digestible ways and provoking interesting discussion about even the minutiae of certain points.

Posted on:
February 1, 2020
2 minute read, 355 words
World History Islam Mediterranean
Past Course
See Also:
Friendship and Islam From Rumi to Ramy
Islam in America or American Islam?