RS 8: Islam, Gender, and Modernity

  • M-R 12:30-1:50 in HSSB 1215
  • Course Instructor: Claire Robison
  • Office Hours: 2pm on Tues & Thurs or by appointment in HSSB 3043


Course Structure

Week 1: Aug 4th-7th

Mon Aug 4th:

  • In class: Introduction to the main issues of studying Islam, Gender, and Modernity
  • Reading: John Esposito, What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam: pp 3-14, 18-22, 48-50, 61-62: Esposito Reading 1

Tues Aug 5th:

  • In class: Introduction to Islamic tradition and gender, historical and contemporary
  • Reading: John Esposito, What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam: pp 95-105, 158-162, 166-173: Esposito Reading 2

Wed Aug 6th:

Thurs Aug 7th:

  • In class: Islam and European Colonialism
  • Reading: Harem Years Introduction and Part 1: 7-32
  • Quiz 1 on reading from Week 1


Week 2: Aug 11th-14th

Mon Aug 11th:

  • In class: Egypt in Huda Sharawi’s Time
  • Reading: Harem Years Part 2: 33-61

Tues Aug 12th:

  • In class: Feminism and Growth of Women’s Salons in early 20th c Egypt
  • Reading: Harem Years Part 3: 62-82
  • Quiz 2 on Harem Years Parts 2 & 3

Wed Aug 13th:

  • In class: ‘Me and the Mosque’ film and discussion
  • Reading: Harem Years Part 4: 83-111

Thurs Aug 14th:

  • In class: Successes of Women’s Rights Advocates in 20th c Egypt
  • Reading: Harem Years Epilogue 112-137
  • Quiz 3 on Harem Years Part 4 & Epilogue


Week 3: Aug 18th-21st

Mon Aug 18th:

  • In class: Independence Movements and Post-colonial Muslim-Majority Nations
  • Reading: Year of the Elephant Introduction, xix-xxxv

Tues Aug 19th:

  • In class: Patriarchy and Structures of Home Life
  • Reading: Year of the Elephant Chapters 1 & 2: 1-25
  • Quiz 4 on Year of the Elephant Introduction & Ch. 1-2

Wed Aug 20th:

  • In class: Discussion on Final Research Papers
  • Reading: Year of the Elephant Ch. 3: 26-47

Thurs Aug 21st:


Week 4: Aug 25th-28th

Mon Aug 25th:

  • In class: Changing Scenarios for Conservative Muslim Women
  • Reading: Year of the Elephant Ch. 5: 62-81

Tues Aug 26th:

  • In class: Modern Islamic Reform Movements and the Rise of Islamism
  • Reading: John Esposito, What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam: pp. 53-57, 63-71, 105-109, 182-188, 212-21: Esposito Reading 3
  • Quiz 6 on Year of the Elephant Ch. 5 & Esposito Reading

Wed Aug 27th:

  • In class: The Rise of Islamism continued
  • Reading:
  • Leila Ahmed, A Quiet Revolution: The Veil’s Resurgence from the Middle East to America: Leila Ahmed Quiet Revolution
  • Reconstructing Self and Society: Javanese Muslim Women and “The Veil”: Veiling in Java

Thurs Aug 28th:

  • In class: Introduction to Modern Iran
  • Reading: Lipstick Jihad Introduction & Ch. 1: Secret Garden (1-28)
  • Quiz 7 on articles and Lipstick Jihad Introduction & Ch. 1


Week 5: Sept 1st-4th

Mon Sept 1st:

  • No class: Labor Day Holiday.
  • Reading: Lipstick Jihad Ch. 2: Homecoming (31-64)

Tues Sept 2nd:

  • In class: Life under a Modern Theocratic Government
  • Reading: Lipstick Jihad Ch. 3: We Don’t Need No Revolution (67-91) & 4: My Country is Sick (95-121)
  • Quiz 8 on Lipstick Jihad Ch. 2-4

Wed Sept 3rd:

  • In class: ‘Be Like Others’ film and discussion
  • Reading: Lipstick Jihad Ch. 5: Election (125-148)

Thurs Sept 4th:

  • In class: ‘Tales of the Waria’ film
  • Reading: Lipstick Jihad Ch. 6: I’m Too Sexy for My Veil (151-176)
  • Quiz 9 on Lipstick Jihad Ch. 5-6


Week 6: Sept 8th-11th

Mon Sept 8th:

  • No class: Email a 1-page outline of your research essay, including the topic, bibliography, and basic points in outline form
  • Reading: Lipstick Jihad Ch. 7: Love in a Time of Struggle (179-202)

Tues Sept 9th:

  •  In class: Discuss Lipstick Jihad
  • Reading: 8: Summer of the Cockroach (205-219)

Wed Sept 10th:

  • In class: Concluding discussion on Lipstick Jihad
  • Reading: 9: Not Without My Mimosa (223-246)
  • Quiz 10 on Lipstick Jihad Ch. 7-9

Thurs Sept 11th:

  • In class: Film Presentations



10% Participation

20% Film Presentation

35% Reading Quizzes (10 total)

35% Final Research Paper (5 pg reflection based on 3+ sources). Due in my inbox Sept 16th by 5pm.


Film Project Details

Films for the Film Presentation:

  • Persepolis
  • Wadjda
  • Reluctant Fundamentalist
  • View from a Grain of Sand
  • Two Women

The class will be divided into 5 groups and assigned one film each. On the last day of class (Thursday, Sept 11th) each group will give a 10 min. presentation on their assigned film, including a synopsis (2 min), response and analysis based on the issues we have discussed in class (4-5 min), and a short excerpt from the film  (3-4 min) illustrating the points you make.


Final Essay Details

You will be given a choice of 5 topics related to the issues we have discussed during the course. Choose one and draw from its corresponding bibliography to write a research paper. 5 pgs, double-spaced with footnotes and a bibliography. Due Sept 16th by 5 pm in my inbox.


Class Participation Expectations

Class participation means actual human interaction. No laptop/smartphone/electronic device use during class. Bring a notebook or pad of paper for taking notes. All lecture power-points will be posted on Gauchospace for later consultation.

Join the conversation. Bring your thoughts, questions, and critiques to class. Let’s make the course an interesting conversation with a variety of Muslim women’s voices.


Extra Online Resources


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