Islam, Gender, and Sexuality

This course explores gender and sexuality from the birth of Islam in seventh-century Arabia to Muslim communities in the United States today. The course has two primary aims that inform each other and are at times in tension. Firstly, students will examine diverse cosmologies and debates regarding gender and sexuality in the Islamic tradition and Muslim societies. At the same time, we will reflect on how recent theories of gender and sexuality impact the study of religion, and Islam in particular. Among the questions we will pursue are: How is gender constructed in classical Muslim sources? How has the history of the early Muslim community been variously interpreted to create "Islamic norms"? How do changing social, historical, and political conditions influence Islamic discourses on women's bodily autonomy, masculinity, and desire? Is there such a thing as Islamic feminism and what might it look like? Who speaks for and against it? What are the possibilities for egalitarian transformation in Islamic thinking and the Muslim world? This is a reading intensive course that draws on primary source texts (the Quran, prophetic tradition, Islamic law), as well as ethnography, literature, film, and media.