Islamic Aesthetics

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This course is an introduction to Islamic aesthetics with emphasis on the nature and development of the arabesque and calligraphy as ornament in art and architecture. Lectures will ask and attempt to answer the question of why a pragmatic and down-to-earth philosophy chose to express itself in a most abstract visual language, how much of the vocabulary of that language was originally Arabic, and how much was inspired and/or acquired from the various lands conquered by Islam. Digital image lectures will be accompanied by some poetry, music, Qur’anic recitations and film viewings.

3 credits

Course Code: HUM 312

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.