HIAA0031 Fall14 S01 Pre-Islamic Empires of Iran

Pre-Islamic Empires of Iran

HIAA 0031


Fall Semester 2014

Tuesday/Thursday 9-10:20am

Classroom: List 210

 Class blog: http://blogs.brown.edu/hiaa-0031-s01

Professor: Anne Chen

Email: anne_chen@brown.edu

Office: 418 List

Office Hours: Tues. 3-4pm, Thurs. 10:30-11:30am, and by appointment



This course offers an introduction to the art and architecture of the Ancient Near Eastern empires that flourished between the 6th century BCE and the Islamic conquests of c. 630 CE.  We will consider the material culture of the Achaemenids, Seleucids, Parthians, and Sasanians, empires that inhabited primarily the areas of Mesopotamia and the Persian plateau, but spread at times as far afield as the Mediterranean coast, Egypt, the Caucasus, and the Indus Valley. Four key questions will guide our analysis.  What can art and architecture tell us about international relations?  How can representations, materials, inscriptions, and building projects help us reconstruct the identities of kings, queens, foreign diplomats, and conquered enemies?  How can images and inscriptions help us understand the significance and use of buildings?  How have artificial academic parameters and modern political interests shaped our picture of this period of Ancient Near Eastern history?  Lectures will prioritize close analysis of the most illuminating art and architecture, so that you leave the course knowing not only the material evidence but also current approaches to interpreting it.  Assigned readings, books on reserve, museum visits, and writing assignments will offer opportunities to explore many additional aspects of the art and architecture that characterize this vibrant period of intercultural exchange.


Office Hours and Email                                                                                               

I will hold office hours Tuesday 3-4pm, and also on Thursday 10:30-11:30am.   Sign-up sheets are posted by my office door at 418 List.  Please sign up for a specific time and please do not claim more than one spot at once.  I am also available to meet by appointment.  Email (anne_chen@brown.edu) is the best way to communicate with me, and I will do my best to respond within 24 hours. 



Near Eastern Art and Architecture continues to inspire some of the field’s most innovative research and analysis.  The required readings, drawn from recent academic articles and books, will introduce you to the most significant artworks and buildings, while also letting you engage directly with the work of leading scholars.  In addition, the readings offer a range of models for clear prose and effective argumentation, which you should consider closely as you craft your own writing throughout the semester. Please complete the required readings, listed beneath each related lecture title and available as pdfs on our class’ Canvas Website, before arriving for that class.  Related books on reserve (available via OCRA; class password=Empires) will allow you to explore topics in greater depth.  There are no required textbooks for this course. 


The Fine Print: Grades and Policies                                                           

Graded Components:  Each graded component must be passed in order to pass the course itself.


  • 25%  Exam I  on 10/9
  • 25%  Exam II on 11/11
  • 25%  Paper due 12/15 by 2pm
  • 25%  Attendance, participation, and blog posts
    • Regular class attendance and participation are required, as are
    • one one-paragraph reading response posted per week
    • one object response posted 10/21
    • paper topic and list of objects due 11/18


Use of electronic devices (computers, smart phones, ipads, audio recorders, etc.) is prohibited during class.  Not complying with this policy will negatively impact your grade.  Everyone concentrates better in a distraction-free classroom, and studies have shown that students retain information better when they take notes by hand.


Exams:  The two exams will include maps, terms, and images (both “knowns” to test your mastery of artworks and buildings covered in class and “unknowns” to test your ability to apply your understanding to new material). 


Make-up exams:  Permission to make up an exam will be granted only under extreme circumstances, such as medical treatment requiring hospitalization or a family funeral, and requires arrangement in advance.  You will need to provide written documentation of these circumstances and to take the exam in a timely manner upon your return to campus.  If you are unable to take an exam for any reason, please contact both me and your class dean as soon as possible, so that we can begin to devise a plan to help you catch up.


Late Assignments:  Assignments submitted after stated deadlines will be subject to immediate and escalating grade penalties. 


Students with special needs:  I encourage students with religious observance requirements, disability accommodations, or other special situations to discuss their needs with me as soon as possible, so that we can work together to find a fair solution.  You may speak with me after class or during office hours.  If you have an official letter from the Students and Employee Accessibility Services that recommends extended time or other exam conditions, please have this letter forwarded to me and remind me at least two weeks before each exam, so that I can make the necessary arrangements for alternate rooms and staffing.  


Schedule of Lectures and Readings:                                                                      

For a complete (but tentative!) schedule of topics, see the relevant page available under the "Pages" tab in the left-hand navigation column.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due