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WGSS 242
Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Islam Spring 2021
Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed REL 242 / WGSS 242 / ARAB 242

Class Details

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.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 14
Class#: 4607
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Religion, Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Arabic majors
Distributions: Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
REL 242 Division II WGSS 242 Division II ARAB 242 Division II
DPE Notes: This course explores the relationship between gender, authority, and civilizational discourse. To that end, the course will explore: 1) how assumptions about gender shaped the legal and Quranic exegetical tradition and Muslim feminist critiques. 2) The construction of the oppressed Muslim woman in justifying military invasion and nationalistic rhetoric. This course will introduce students to critical tools in decolonial feminism and the relationship between gender and power.

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