This course is an introduction to the history of the Turks in the global age. It charts their movement across Siberia, Central Asia, the Middle East, and Europe; their connections with different empires and kingdoms, states, and religions; and their cultural exchange with neighboring peoples (Chinese, Mongols, Persians, Arabs, Greeks, and others). At various times the Turks have built vast empires; Turkic dynasties ruled for generations in places as far-flung as China, Central Asia, Russia, and the Middle East.
We will explore the origins of the Turks and some of the distinctive features of Turkic societies in different times and places, as well as how diverse communities across Eurasia responded to the rise of Turk power. In addition to historical documents, we will also explore the varied material culture of the Turks, especially inscriptions, religious paintings, and manuscripts. We will examine topics such as ecological adaptation and the environment; the migrations of the Turks and their interactions with other peoples; the conquest and governance of empires; economics; ethnicity, language and cultural identity; religious beliefs and practices; and literature and the arts. We will also examine how Turkic-speaking nations influence present-day discussions on politics, diplomacy, and globalization.
No special knowledge of the region on the part of students is presumed. The course will consist of lectures, reading assignments, and will make extensive use of films and other audio-visual materials.
By the conclusion of this course students will:
Demonstrate knowledge of the geography, environment, and history of Eurasia;
Become familiar with the richness and the cultural diversity of the Turkic-speaking world;
Examine historical development through the lens of interdisciplinary critical analysis;
Do critical reading of historical sources and evaluate competing historical arguments in context;
Develop the ability to think analytically and empathetically about Turks and the Islamic world; and
Acquire a broad understanding of globalization, informed by historical developments and cross-cultural exchange.