REL 242 Spring 2015 Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Islam

Cross Listed as WGSS242, ARAB242
The figure of the Muslim woman is an object of intense scrutiny in Western society. Claims that Muslim women are oppressed and the incompatibility of Islam and feminism abound. This course will consider women and gender roles in the Islamic tradition and how Muslim women have interpreted and negotiated these discourses. We will explore questions of masculinity, femininity, and sexuality across various historical periods as well as through contemporary Muslim feminist scholarship and literature (including film and novels). We will begin with insights into the politics of representing Muslim women, exploring how Muslim women are depicted in popular culture and media and ask the crucial question: do Muslim women need saving? We will then explore: how Muslim women have claimed religious authority through scriptural interpretation; how they have negotiated their position in Islamic law both historically and in contemporary Muslim societies; and the lives of pious women in Sufism--the mystical tradition of Islam. We will conclude with Muslim feminist scholarship and recent works on Islamic masculinities. Throughout the course, emphasis will be placed on the diversity of interpretations in Islam around women, gender, and sexuality and on Muslim women's own articulations about their religious identity and experiences. Some of the topics covered in this course include: marriage and divorce, slavery, modesty and veiling, and homosexuality.
Class Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: active class participation (including a presentation on the reading materials), short weekly reflections, and one final research paper (10-15 pages)
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Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preference: Religion, Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Arabic majors
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Divisional Attributes: Division II
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Enrollment Limit: 19
Expected Enrollment: 10
Class Number: 3992
REL 242 - 01 (S) SEM Women, Gender, Sex in Islam Division 2: Social Studies Saadia Yacoob
W 1:10 PM-3:50 PM Greylock D 3992
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