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Professor creates interactive timeline of Islamic culture

March 15, 2015

Associate Professor James Terry has created two new online tools that give students easy access to important dates and terms.

The Islamic World is an interactive timeline of Islamic history and culture. It begins with the birth of Muhammad in the year 570 and tracks key events in art, culture, science; political and military history; religion; and other milestones through the present day. Each of the more than 300 events is marked with a card containing more information, videos, links, maps, photos and other relevant elements. It ends with the massacre at Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris earlier this year.

Viewers can scan the information on a two-dimensional timeline or in a 3-D view through the host website, Tiki Toki. View it here.

Terry created the timeline to supplement the textbook he uses in his Islamic Art and Culture course.

“The text is excellent, but it focuses narrowly on art and architecture, and I wanted students to be able to understand the arts in the contexts of religion, history, culture and science,” he said.

Terry said he hopes it helps people better understand the importance and relevance of the cultures of the Islamic world.

“So much of what we think of as Western European accomplishments really began with Islamic civilization in the Middle Ages,” he said. “The Renaissance and the scientific revolution would never have been conceivable without the preservation of ancient Greek texts and the advances in astronomy, medicine, philosophy, geography, mechanics and mathematics made by Arabic-speaking scholars. It reminds us that scholarship, science and art have always been culturally interconnected.”

He also hopes it counters the often negative images of Muslims and Arabs in the Western press.

“It is important to present a more balanced picture, to celebrate the accomplishments of scholars like Leila Ahmed and Edward Said; Nobel Peace Prize winners like Orhan Pamuk, Tawakkol Karman and Malala Yousafzai; artists and architects like Shirin Neshat and Zaha Hadid; and the great cultural institutions in the Islamic world like the new Bibliotheca Alexandrina (the reincarnation of the lost Library of Alexandria).”

One of Terry’s other web resources is a searchable glossary he created last summer while teaching an online course. He began creating the glossary as a WordPress site, and it has since grown to more than 300 terms and definitions. View it here.

The glossary will be featured on Art History Teaching Resources, a peer-populated web platform for art history teachers, in April.

Both resources are available to students and teachers everywhere.

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