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Yuen-Gen Liang
Wheaton College (Norton, MA 02766-2322)

Teaching Development Fellowships
Research Programs

$21,000 (approved)
$21,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
2/1/2012 – 6/30/2012

The Shared Origins and Parallel Histories of the West and Islam (400-900 C.E.)

Western civilization courses often emphasize that Christian Europe and the Islamic Middle East were both heirs of Rome and as such they share similar origins. Despite the vital importance of this point, these courses do not delve deeper into the nature of the common roots and recognize the additional fact that the West and Islam then developed parallel to each other. I seek to infuse my course “History 101 Development of Europe” with comparisons to Islamic history. My research will show that migratory peoples (Germanic and Arab) conquered and settled the sedentary, agricultural, and urbanized Roman Empire in both the west and the east, respectively. From these common foundations, I will explain how the two peoples, both possessing “tribal” social structures based on the importance of blood and affinity ties, interacted with Roman social structure (its government, religion, law, urban landscape, learning, and industry) to establish new western European and Islamic societies.