Special topics: women and islam

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HIST4490 - EB170


FALL 2005

Instructor: Dr. John Turner

Office: 248 Pilcher 248

Office Hours: to be announced

Phone: (770) 499-3288

E-mail: jturner@kennesaw.edu
Instructor: Dr. Catherine Lewis

Office: 203 Pilcher

Office Hours: 8:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and by appointment

Phone: (678) 797-2058

E-mail: clewis1@kennesaw.edu
Course Description:
This team-taught course puts the lives of contemporary Muslim women into historical perspective, examining the issues that inform constructions of gender in the Islamic world. Through monographs and essays, novels and stories, and film, we will examine the status and
images of women in scripture, tradition, law, theology, philosophy and literature.
Course Objectives:
Students who successfully complete this course will:

  • Read and analyze primary and secondary sources related to the course, making comparisons the experience of women over time.

  • Understand how social, economic, and religious constructs shape the experience in women and men in the Muslim world.

  • Comprehend and synthesize the most recent research in the field.

  • With a small group, lead a class discussion on a series of readings related to a specific theme.

  • Discuss the significance and usefulness of Islam as an overarching category in modern Muslim societies

  • Prepare a book and film review, using Chicago Manual of Style.

  • Determine how films and web sites, created in the past three decades, shape and enrich our understanding of this topic.

Classroom Policies:

  • An atmosphere of mutual trust is essential to the success of this course. We strongly encourage lively debates and urge students to respect each other's opinions. Expressions of intolerance are discouraged. Disagreeing with others intelligently and politely is a skill, one that we will all strive for during the semester.

  • "Every KSU student is responsible for upholding the provisions of the Student Code of Conduct, as published in the Undergraduate and Graduate catalogs. Section II of the Student Code of Conduct addresses the University's policy on academic honesty, including provisions regarding plagiarism and cheating, unauthorized access to University materials, misrepresentations/ falsification of University records or academic work, malicious removal, retention, or destruction of library materials, malicious/intentional misuse of computer facilities and/or services, and misuse of student identification cards. Incidents of alleged academic misconduct will be handled through the established procedures of the University Judiciary Program, which includes either an 'informal' resolution by a faculty member, resulting in a grade adjustment, or a formal hearing procedure, which may subject a student to the Code of Conduct's minimum one semester suspension requirement" (KSU Senate 15 March 1999).

  • Punctual, regular class attendance is required. Students are responsible for all assigned work. An absence does not absolve them from this responsibility. If possible, absences should be discussed with the instructor in advance. All exams will be taken as scheduled.

Film Screenings:
Attendance at four films throughout the semester is mandatory. They will be shown at 5:00 p.m. on those days. Please make arrangements to attend. Each student is required to write a review of one of the films (3-4 pages) throughout the semester.
Tuesday, August 30 - Benaat Chicago (Daughters of Chicago): Growing up Arab and Female in Chicago

Tuesday, September 20 – The Circle

Tuesday, October 10 – Secret Ballot

Tuesday, November 15 – Leila

Web Site Project:
At the beginning of the semester, the class will be divided into small groups and asked to review the Women in Islam: Muslim Women web site (http://www.uga.edu/islam/Islamwomen.html), selecting one of the following topics:
The Spiritual Role of Women

Women and Society: Political Participation: Gender Equity in Islam

An Islamic Perspective on Sexuality

Legal Rights of Women in Islam

Violence Against Women

An Islamic Perspective on the Hijab

Qur’anic References to Women
For the presentation, the group should synthesize the main issues for the class and examine how well they are argued and supported in the various articles you analyzed. The group is responsible for leading a 30-minute discussion on their topic.
Book Review:
Each student is responsible for preparing a 5-7 page review on a book related women and Islam, for approval by the instructors. The essay should analyze the author’s methodology, findings, relationship to other scholarly works in the field, and the book’s connections to themes and issues raised in the course. Students must use the Chicago Manual of Style and must include a bibliography.
Each student is responsible for preparing a formal 10-minute presentation on the book they reviewed and its connections to the themes and issues raised in the class.

Attendance, participation, quizzes




Web site project


Film review


Book review


Grade Scale:










59 and below

Required Texts (Available in the Campus Bookstore):
Ahmed, Leila, Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate. New Haven: Yale University Press 1993.

Nafisi, Azar, Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books. Random House, 2003.

Research Web Sites:
"A Manual on Rights of Women Under Islam" http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/womislam.htm
Women and Islam


Reserve Readings (available at the Sturgis Library Circulation Desk): It is helpful to have your syllabus with you when you request materials on reserve. It would be wise to copy all of the reserve readings in the first week of the semester.
Reading Schedule

Week 1: Historical Roots

T 8.23

Introduction to the course. Anna Quindlen, “Separate but Not Equal at All,” Newsweek (May 2, 2005): 74 and S. E. Ibrahim, "The Veiled Medical Student," The New Arab Social Order, 16-19.


Th 8.25

John L. Esposito, Chapter 1, Islam the Straight Path (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998) and Leila Ahmed, “Introduction,” Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993), 1-7.

Week 2: Historical Roots

T 8.30

Gavin Hambly, "Becoming Visible: Medieval Islamic Women in
Historiography and History," in Women in the Medieval Islamic World, 3-27. Anne Hardwick, "From Muhammad to Present: Islamic Law and Women," from Modus Vivendi http://www.is.rhodes.edu/modus/96/Hardwick.html

Film: Benaat Chicago

Th 9.1

Lelia Ahmed, Chapter 3, “Women and the Rise of Islam,” from Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993), 41- 63

Week 3: Historical Roots

T 9.6

Leila Ahmed, Chapter 6, “Medieval Islam,” in Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993) 102-123. Barbara Crossette, "A Manual on Rights of Women Under Islam," New York Times, 26 December, 1996 http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/womislam.htm

Th 9.8

Leila Ahmed, Chapter 7, “Social and Intellectual Change” and Chapter 9, “The First Feminists,” in Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate (New Haven: Yale University Press 1993), 127-143 and 169-188.

Week 4: Theories of Patriarchy and Orientalism

T 9.13

Gerda Lerner, The Creation of Patriarchy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986): 3-14 and 212-229. Leslie Peirce, “Wives and Concubines” from Imperial Harem (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993): 28-56.

Th 9.15

Abu-Lughod, Lila, “Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving? Anthropological Reflections on Cultural Relativism and its Others,” American Anthropologist 104:3 (September 2002): 783-791.

Week 5: Theories of Patriarchy and Orientalism

T 9.20

Kandiyoti, Deniz, “Bargaining with Patriarchy,” in Gender and Society 2:3 (1988): 274-290 and Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage Books, 1979): 1-15.

Film: The Circle

Th 9.22

Mai Ghoussoub. "Feminism—or the Eternal Masculine—in the Arab World." New Left Review 161 (January-February, 1987): 3-13 and Reza Hammami and Martina Rieker. "Feminist Orientalism and Orientalist Marxism," New Left Review 170 (July-August 1988): 93-106.

Week 6: Islamic Law and Tradition

T 9.27

Ruth Roded, “Sayings of the Prophet: Selective Quotations,” in Women in Islam and the Middle East: A Reader (New York: I.B. Tauris, 1999): 48-57.

Th 9.29

Workshop: Book and film reviews

Week 7: Islamic Law and Tradition

T 10.4

Sondra Hale, “The Islamic State and Gendered Citizenship in Sudan,” in Suad Joseph, Gender and Citizenship in the Middle East (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2000).

Th 10.6

Sima Pakzad, "The Legal Status of Women in the Family in Iran," in eds., Mahnaz Afkhami and Erika Friedl, In the Eye of the Storm, (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1994): 169-179.

Week 8: Women and the State

T 10.11

Ayse Kadioglu. "Women's Subordination in Turkey: Is Islam Really the Villain?" The Middle East Journal 48:4 (Autumn 1994): 645-660.

Film: Secret Ballot

Th 10.13

Juan Cole, “Women and the Making of Shi’ism” in Sacred Space and Holy War (New York: I.B. Tauris, 2002) and Mahnaz Afkhami, “Women in Post-Revolutionary Iran: A Feminist Perspective,” eds., Mahnaz Afkhami and Erika Friedl, In the Eye of the Storm, (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1994): 5-18.

Week 9: The History and Politics of the Veil

T 10.18

Leila Ahmed, Chapter 8, "The Discourse of the Veil," in Women and Gender in Islam, 144-168 and Quasim Amin, “Women and the Veil,” from The Liberation of Women and the New Woman: Two Documents in the History of Egyptian Feminism (Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 1992), 35-61.

Th 10.20

Fatima Mernissi, “The Muslim Concept of Active Female Sexuality,” from Beyond the Veil: Male-Female Dynamics in Modern Muslim Society (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987), 27-45 and Leila Hessini, “Wearing the Hajib in Contemorary Morocco: Choice and Identity,” from Reconstructing Gender in the Middle East, 40-56.

Week 10: Women and Education

T 10.25

N. Abadan-Unat, "The Impact of Legal and Educational Reforms on Turkish Women," Women in Middle Eastern History, 177-194.

Th 10.27

Nafisi, Azar, Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books (New York: Random House, 2003): 1-77.

Week 11: Women and Education

T 11.1

Nafisi, Azar, Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books (New York: Random House, 2003): 81-206.

Th 11.3

Nafisi, Azar, Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books (New York: Random House, 2003): 207-343.

Week 12: Religious and Secular Perspectives on Marriage

T 11.8

Assia Djebar, “There is No Exile,” in Global Voices: Contemporary Literature from the Non-Western World, ed. Arthur Biddle (Englewood Cliffs: NJ, 1995): 420-430.

Th 11.10

Leila Abouzeid, “Divorce (a short story)” from Women and Family in the Middle East: New Voices of Change, ed. Elizabeth Warnock Fernea (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985): 84-88.

Week 13: Religious and Secular Perspectives on Marriage

T 11.15

Ziba Mir-Hosseini, “Negotiating the Politics of Gender in Iran: An Ethnography of a Documentary,” in The New Iranian Cinema: Politics, Representation and Identity, ed. Richard Tapper (London: I.B. Tauris Publishers, 2002), 167-199.

Film: Leila

Th 11.17

An-Na’im, Abdullahi, “The Dichotomy between Religious and Secular Discourse in Islamic Societies,” in Afkami, Mahnaz, Faith and Freedom: Women’s Human Rights in the Muslim World (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1995), 51-60.

Week 14: Writing Back: Feminist Responses

T 11.22

Student selections from Opening the Gates: A Century of Arab Feminist Writing, Margot Badran and Miriam Cooke, eds. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990) and Deniz Kandiyoti. "Emancipated but Unliberated? Reflections on the Turkish Case." Feminist Studies 13 (Summer 1987): 317-338.

Th 11.24


No Class

Week 15: War, Society, and Gender

T 11.29

Miriam Cooke, “Arab Women Arab Wars,” from Reconstructing Gender in the Middle East, 144-166.

Th 12.1

Emily Nasrallah, “Our Daily Bread,” in Global Voices: Contemporary Literature from the Non-Western World, ed. Arthur Biddle (Englewood Cliffs: NJ, 1995): 494-498.

Week 16: Conclusion

Th 12.6

Course Evaluations

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