History | Women and Gender in the Middle East
C305 | 27581 | Scalenghe


A portion of the above class reserved for majors
Above class open to undergraduates and Education MA’s only
Above class meets with NELC-N305

The Western media often depicts Middle Eastern women as oppressed,
citing Islam as the most significant source of such oppression. But
what exactly is meant by “Middle Eastern women” and by “Islam,” and
exactly how and to what degree are women “oppressed?” This
undergraduate history course is designed to provide students with a
nuanced historical understanding of issues related to women and
gender in the Middle East (here defined as the Arab world, Turkey,
and Iran). The first part of the course examines both the
development of discourses on gender as well as the lived experiences
of women from the rise of Islam to the nineteenth century, while the
second part examines changes in these phenomena during the twentieth
century. Topics covered include the politics of marriage, divorce,
and reproduction; women’s political and economic participation; the
veil; and the origins, ideologies, and impact of Islamist movements
on women’s lives. The third and final part of the course explores
the highly contested topics of homosexuality, transgender, and
transsexuality in the contemporary Middle East. Lectures and
discussions will be supplemented by audio-visual presentations.