Folklore | Tales Women Tell in the Middle East
F617 | 29620 | H. El-Shamy

This course examines women's culture(s) as portrayed in their tales
and related traditional form of expression. Traditions treated will
include selections from several communities in the ethnically,
linguistically, and religiously diverse "Arab World" (e.g., Berber,
Aramaic, Nubian, etc.).

The contents are grouped into 6 segments:

I. Introduction: A general survey of "the Arab World," its societies,
And cultures. Links with Europe, Africa, and Asia.

II. A Brief history of women's status in Arab communities: the role
of Islam and other religious systems. Modern movements
of “emancipation of women.”

III. Kinship systems and the female's role(s). The female in a
patriarchal society.

IV. Economic systems and the working female as "bread winner".

V. Tales as cognitive descriptions of life and living under specific
conditions: self concept, self-esteem, social roles (chiftainess /
matriarch, servant; mother, wife, sister, daughter, cousin, etc.).
The stereotyped female: male and female views.
A. PARENTS AND PATERNAL FIGURES (Mother and Children; Mother and
Son; Mother and Daughter; Father and Daughter; Paternal Figures).
Wife; The Wife in a Polygynous Community).
C. SIBLINGS (Sister and Sister; Brother and Sister; Brother and
D. MOTHER'S BROTHER (Boy and Mother's Brother; Girl and Mother's

VI. European/Western theories and Arab stories: the literary and the
oral traditional.

Exams: 	Two (Midterm, Final): Take-home and objective
Papers: 	One term paper emphasizing research

Main textbook:
H. El-Shamy. Tales Arab Women Tell: And the Behavioral Patterns they
Portray. Collected, translated, edited, and interpreted by Hasan M.
El-Shamy. Indiana University Press, 1999.