RELIGION 496 - Gender and Sexuality in Pre-Modern Islam
Section: 001
Term: FA 2016
Subject: Religion (RELIGION)
Department: LSA Studies in Religion
Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
Students should preferably have had one course in Islamic Studies.
Other Course Info:
Taught in English.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

The course explores Muslim constructions of gender and sexuality in the pre-modern era. It integrates issues of sexuality and gender, bringing to bear on each other the ways in which masculinity and femininity were intimately constructed within the project of Islam.

  • How do gender and sexuality constitute useful categories to interpret cultures?
  • How have scholars of the Islamic world studied women and gender?

Through a survey of sacred texts (Quran & Hadith) that came to define the female and the male sex in early and medieval Islam we shall investigate the (re) casting of female icons (Eve, Zulaykha, ‘A’isha) through time. We will trace the systems of representation developed by Muslim men to express femininity and masculinity in medieval Islamicate literary texts (poetry, stories, advice literature, satire, political, and medical treatises).

  • How do gendered symbols get translated from the domains of the sacred to those of literature, politics and law?
  • How is the body engendered through Islam?
  • How are sexuality, love, and desire distinguished in these texts?
  • What do these reveal about power, social hierarchies and their related mentalities?
  • What social institutions and regulatory technologies are created to maintain such representations?

Throughout the course we will read theoretical works on gender, sexuality, and the body, which have transformed the disciplines of history, literature and anthropology in recent decades. These studies will inform our discussions in class about the construction of historical narratives, the materiality of experience and social processes in the Islamic world.

Finally, we will end with the social and cultural transformations in nineteenth and twentieth century Iran to explore the ways in which modernity and colonialism affected Muslim gendered attitudes and sexual economies.

Course Requirements:

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Intended Audience:

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Class Format:

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RELIGION 496 - Gender and Sexuality in Pre-Modern Islam
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
TuTh 2:30PM - 4:00PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

Coursepack Location:
ISBN: 0195084802
Women in the Qur'an, traditions, and interpretation, Author: Barbara Freyer Stowasser., Publisher: Oxford University Press 1994
ISBN: 0520242637
Women with mustaches and men without beards : gender and sexual anxieties of Iranian modernity, Author: Afsaneh Najmabadi., Publisher: University of California Press [Nachdr.]. 2006
ISBN: 0201523213
The veil and the male elite : a feminist interpretation of women's rights in Islam, Author: Fatima Mernissi ; translated by Mary Jo Lakeland., Publisher: Addison-Wesley Pub. Co. 11. print. 1991
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