Core class + tutorial: The Connected Histories of State- and Confession-Building in a Eurasian Perspective, 1400s–1600s

Course Level: 
Course Open to: 
Students on-site
Academic Year: 
US Credits: 
ECTS Credits: 
Course Code: 
MEDS5626; MEDS5627
Course Description: 

In its broadest sense, the objective of this course is to examine the relationship between various state- and confession-building projects in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, in a trans-regional and trans-religious perspective.   The question at the heart of this endeavor is whether a “connected,” “trans-regional” approach (that transcends the boundaries of both Europe and Christendom) to the question of state and confessional identity in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is viable, and how it could potentially contribute to the debate on the notion of “early modernity." In the beginning of the course, we will focus on the historiographical debate regarding “confessionalization”—a major paradigm in the study of European early modern religio-political trends, with both macro- and micro-historical methodological perspectives.  We will look into how this paradigm has been validated or challenged by scholars working in different parts of early modern Western, Central and Eastern Europe. With this information in mind, we will then turn to the early modern Islamic world, examining the religio-political trends in the Ottoman and Safavid empires of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. While we will be interested in testing the utility of the confessionalization paradigm and/or the insights and inquiries it has generated in European historiography for the study of early modern Muslim religious politics, we will focus on the peculiarities of each imperial context and benefits of discussing them dialogically.  

Learning Outcomes: 

Students will be challenged to think beyond their (geographically, religiously, politically, etc.) specific fields of study and learn how to combine micro and macro approaches to religio-political issues; they will familiarize themselves with methodological (comparative vs. connected vs. trans-national vs. global history) as well as historiographical debates (on ‘early modernity,’ ‘confessionalization,’ ‘orthodoxy,’ and ‘heresy’ in Islamic history, etc.), and will be expected to implement their insights in their final papers.


• Attendance at both lecture and tutorial meetings (or those registered for both) is mandatory.
• Participation in the discussion: 20 pts
• Discussion questions: 10 pts
• Response papers: 2 response papers, 4-5 pages in length: 40 pts (20 pts each)
• Final Paper (8-10 pages): 30 pts

Students who are taking the class as a 2-credit elective course: are not expected to attend the tutorials, their participation in class discussion counts for 30 pts, discussion leading 10 pts, and three response papers to the readings 60 pts (20 pts each).