The Hodgson Survey

The Hodgson Survey

This survey is designed to to assess if and how we are deploying the The Venture of Islam in our courses and its reception by students. The answers submitted to this survey will contribute to a larger project that outlines the publication history of The Venture of Islam and its relationship to the teaching of Islamicate history in post-secondary institutions (more information below). While I’ve tried to ask as many quantitative questions as seemed reasonable, I realize that much of what needs to be said about this is qualitative; I have made allowances for such answers. You can take both surveys, but the questions are directed to your experience as a student (whenever that may have been) or as a teacher.

Please choose one of these two links to take the survey:

The Hodgson Survey: the Student’s Experience

The Hodgson Survey: the Teacher’s Experience


The year 2014 marks the fortieth anniversary of the publication of Marshall G.S. Hodgson’s The Venture of Islam: Conscience and History in a World Civilization (University of Chicago Press, 1974). Posthumously published by his friend and colleague, Reuben Smith, this three-volume text was a product of the civilizations courses at the University of Chicago and of Hodgson’s own ideas about the ways in which historians should be studying and teaching the narratives of that make up our concepts of world history. In The Venture of Islam, Hodgson presents a framework for the investigation of the societies, institutions and peoples that make up a civilization. Not all aspects of this framework were entirely new with Hodgson but, until its publication some six years after his death, no one had attempted to present such an inclusive (though not complete) study of the civilizations related to Islam and to do so with an entirely reworked periodization and interpretation of people and events. While an imperfect work in many ways, the ambitious scale of the three volume, six book endeavor has kept it in print and consistently referenced in all related fields for the past 40 years.

How does a work in a field such as Islamic(ate) studies remain important for 40 years? Many argue that it never was important, but that it is still in print would indicate otherwise. Much has happened in our field since 1974 and, even by the simple fact of its age, there is much that The Venture of Islam is missing. Furthermore, most of what made up the text compiled and edited by Reuben Smith was written by Hodgson much earlier, some of it as far back as the late 1950s. The Venture was both designed for and a product of the popular University of Chicago course sequence now called Islamic History and Society 1,3. It is still one of the assigned readings for this three-quarter sequence and, for the second course on the Middle Periods, remains the only text available that surveys the entire period.

I will compile the results of these surveys and present them at the 2014 MESA Conference in Washington, D.C. on 24 November 2014. I will also make some of those results available here. Thank you for your help and interest in this project.

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