This course is an interdisciplinary introduction to women's and gender studies via readings from core discipline areas and presentation of methodological/bibliographical tools for research in women's studies. This course includes an examination of women's historic and contemporary status legally, politically, and economically, as well as women's struggles in identity expression, sexuality, and lifestyle.
Examination of popular cultural “makings” of masculinity, femininity, and sexuality through typical representation of gender within fiction, theater, cinema, radio, music, television, journalism, and other secular mass media. Course will include the analysis of developing international telecommunications “superhighway” and the struggles to secure increased representation of women and of feminist perspectives within existing culture industries. Approved by the College of Arts and Sciences for the Humanities distribution requirement and for General Education Category Humanistic Ways of Knowing.
This course will take selected communities in North Africa and the Middle East as the “two or more cultures” to be explored. Egypt, as the crossroads between those regions (and the country that has been at the heart of the Arab-Islamic feminist movement historically), will be emphasized. Materials on the legal and social status of women in Algeria, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia may also be included. The readings feature: a historic contextualizing of the “legal, social, and economic status” of women in Islamic societies (Ahmed) up to the late 20th century (Atiya); short essays and speeches by Arab women, many of whom self-identify as feminists (Badran & Cooke); historical fiction by two of the leading ‘Western’ feminist activists of the Arab world (Zayyat and Saadawi) as well as one ‘Islamic’ feminist (Rifaat); and an analysis of the contemporary resurgence of voluntary veiling among women of the educated and employed middle- and upper-classes (Zuhur). Approved by the College of Arts and Sciences for the Cultural Studies (Non-Western Culture) requirement and General Education Capstone. Prerequisite: sophomore, junior, or senior standing or consent of instructor.
Can religion be a source of liberation for women or does religion, by its very nature, reinforce patriarchal values and structures? In the course we will consider this question by engaging with ethnographies of women’s religious practice and theoretical approaches to religion and feminism. Readings will introduce students to popular theoretical approaches to religion, feminist perspectives on religion by both secular feminists and theologians, and the ethnographic method. The course will focus particularly on women’s spirituality in traditions practiced in the Middle East and Asia.