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President Dan Weiss’ art-history seminar, Pilgrimage and Crusade in Medieval Art, is featured in this week’s Chronicle of Higher Education. Students in the course discussed the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that have sparked outrage in the Muslim world, looking at the complex role of images in both the Judeo-Christian and Islamic traditions and exploring the reasons for the violent response.

Titled “Lafayette College President Leads Discussion of Muhammad Cartoons,” the article notes that Weiss is “not afraid of controversy” and brings to the issue his background as a renowned authority on religious art during the age of the Crusades.

The issue “has been seen entirely in political terms,” according to Weiss, because “our society lacks real understanding of the substantive religious, social, and historical context.”

The article states, “Discussing the role of images in the Judeo-Christian and Islamic traditions, Mr. Weiss said students could begin to see the ‘context for the anger and violence on the part of some Muslims.’ Although he said there was no excuse for the ‘outrageous behavior’ of rioters, he hopes students can better understand the complex cross-cultural issues that surround the uproar.

“Mr. Weiss said the challenge in taking on controversy was to keep ‘the issue itself out front,’ to allow for a respectful exchange of different perspectives.”

Categorized in: In the Media