Is the Hijab Dangerous? Thinking about Islam, Gender, and Sexuality in the Modern Middle East

Spring 2017

FRPG 2082
Instructor: Howard Eissenstat
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday and Thursday 10:10 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
This course counts as a 100 level HIST course, is cross-listed with the History department, and fulfills the FYS and HU general education requirements.

Feminist scholarship has long taught that “the personal is political.”  Nowhere, however, is this more true than the contemporary Middle East, where gender rights, sexuality, and even the most basic elements of women’s clothing are all hotly contested and debated.  In Iran, it is illegal for women to walk with their hair uncovered. In Saudi Arabia, it is illegal for women to drive.  This class aims to explore why and how gender and sexuality have become so central to broader societal debates in the contemporary Middle East. Why has the hijab, or head covering, become so central to both Western and Middle Eastern discourses about women in the Middle East?  How do gender identities change over time?  What does it mean to fight for LGBT or women’s rights in the context of a Middle Eastern society?  The class will be research based, but also include scholarship, films, and literature aimed at giving the student a sense of the sheer diversity of Middle Eastern experiences.

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