Veiled women, harems, belly dancers, wan faces gazing from behind locked bars--these are the images of Middle Eastern women that have obsessed Western writers, journalists and travelers to the Middle East for centuries. Yet as Graham-Browne observes, much of this imagery reflects Western fantasies and fears, rather than the reality, past or present, of women's and men's experiences in the Middle East. This class seeks to provide a more accurate picture of the roles men and women play in the Middle East, and to understand the way in which women's and men's identities are created, defined, renegotiated and expressed through, perhaps, the most central cultural institution in the Middle East: the family.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
As an upper level seminar, this class will emphasize learning through comparison and discussion of a variety of readings. Topics examined will include gender and Islam; women and the family in Middle Eastern history; gender identity; space and veiling; family structure and kinship; and contemporary issues such as family law and the legal status of women, women and work, and women's health.
Arlene Mcleod, 1991. Accomodating Protest: Working women, the New Veiling and Change in Cairo
Leila Ahmed, 1992, Women and gender in Islam
Valentine Moghadam, 1993, Modernizing women: gender and social change in the Middle East
Paula Holmes-Eber, 2002, Daughers of Tunis: Women, family and networks in a Muslim City
Class assignments and grading
Students will explore the complexity of each topic through three 5-7 page response papers. Due to the need for more in-depth advanced work, graduate students will research and present to the class a 10-15 page paper on a topic of their choice in place of the final response paper.