This course is an introduction to mystical/ascetic beliefs and practices in late antiquity and early Islam. Often taken as an offshoot of or alternative to “orthodox” representations of Christianity and Islam, mysticism provides a unique look into the ways in which these religions were experienced by its adherents on a more popular, often non-scholarly, “unorthodox” basis throughout centuries. In this class we will examine mysticism in late antiquity and early Islam through the literature, arts, music, and dance that it inspired.
The first half of the term will be devoted to the historical study of mysticism, its origins, its most well-known early practitioners, and the phases of its institutionalization in early Christianity and early Islam; the second part will look into the beliefs and practices of mystics, the literature they produced, the popular expressions of religion they generated, and their effects in the modern world. This study of mysticism will also provide a window for contemporary students of religion to examine the devotional practices of unprivileged members of the late antiquity religious communities, women and slaves in particular.
Same as CLAD69H3.