Discussing Islamic Art, Aesthetics, and Visuality

This is a 10 session virtual professional module introducing the artistic culture of Islam from the viewpoint of its aesthetics and meaning. It is conceptualized like a forum for both learning and appreciating the rich and beautiful arts of Islam so that the audience will get a sense of what these arts mean and express for the Muslim faithful. The program aims to cover the most important artistic art forms and visual concepts that make the uniqueness of this culture in both aspects of its unity and diversity. The Muslim world is indeed vast and encompasses an immense variety of local cultures. It is also spiritually shaped by different interpretations of the Islamic faith. Yet, this world remains united through the shared acknowledgment of the truth of God’s words in the Qur’an and of God’s messenger and representative, Prophet Muhammad. This acknowledgment constitutes the metaphysical core of Islam that informs Islamic art making.

Classes will be based on visual materials displayed on screen. Fundamental spiritual concepts will be explained in an accessible manner. Therefore, there is no need to be familiar with Islam or knowledgeable in its culture, as the course proposes above all stimulating insights.

The audience will be able to ask questions as the lecturer will be talking or at the end of the presentations, during a questions and answers session.


Module lecturer

Dr. Valerie Gonzalez

Research Associate, SOAS, University of London 

(email address: vg13@soas.ac.ukvalerie.gonzalez152@googlemail.com)



Dr. Valerie Gonzalez

Module objectives

  • Introducing the world of Islam through both its spirituality and visuality
  • Stimulating appreciation of the Islamic arts and their meaningful beauty
  • Showing the richness of Islamic artistic creation throughout history
  • Giving a sense of the conceptual foundations of Islam as both a faith and a way of life



Two sessions per week


Date and time of first class

Tuesday 14 and Thursday 16, September 2021, 4 pm to 6.30 pm GMT.

All classes every Tuesday and Thursday at 4 pm.



September 14: ‘What is Islamic art?’

September 16: ‘Islamic Logocentrism as the Metaphysical Foundation of Islamic Artistic Creation’

September 21: ‘The Qur’an as Aesthetic Paradigm’

September 23: ‘The Multiple Functions of Calligraphy in Islamic Visuality’

September 28: ‘The Uniqueness of Islamic Ornament’

September 30: ‘Examining the Space and Visuality of the Mosque Through a Few Key Buildings’

October 5: ‘A Masterpiece of Medieval Islamic Architecture: The Alhambra, Granada, Al-Andalus (Present-day Spain)”

October 7: ‘Islamic Book Culture I : Aesthetics of Persian Painting’

October 12: ‘Islamic Book Culture II: Aesthetics of Persianate Painting in South Asia in the Medieval period of the Sultanates and in the early Modern Mughal Empire’

October 14: ‘The Beautiful World of the Islamic Portable Objects: Ceramics, Metalwork, Glasswork, Ivories, Textiles’


Who should attend?

Anyone unfamiliar with Islam and interested in discovering it thanks to the appeal of its superb arts, students and professionals alike.

Any Muslim student or professional who would be enticed by the perspective of revisiting their own culture and learning more about its artistic aspects.


Method of Course Delivery

This course and all discussions will be held online in the English language and you should have a good proficiency of this language.



Upon completion of the programme, you will receive a Certificate of Attendance from the Oxford International Collaboration Centre. 



The registration fee for Professionals is  £175 and for Students is  £115.


Register immediately online       

Click ‘Discussing Islamic Art, Aesthetics, and Visuality’ to book your place. You will receive a confirmation email from the admin team.


Register the Discussing Islamic Art, Aesthetics, and Visuality Module