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Middle Eastern Women

Course in Fall 2007 taught by Keddie-Balzan Fellow Houri Berberian

Veils. Harems. Submission. Suppression. These are words most commonly associated with Middle Eastern women. Through different mediums, we have been taught that Islamic culture, social codes, and religious law force women into complete submission to male authority. Our preconceptions about Islam and Middle Eastern culture in general have shown us only one picture of women.

In this course, we will explore a wide range of roles played by Middle Eastern women throughout history and seek to understand the multi-faceted thoughts and activities of women. By studying many different kinds of sources, secondary and primary, we will look at women from different geographical and class backgrounds and discuss the most important issues related to women and gender in Middle Eastern history. This course will proceed in chronological order but will also have a strong thematic approach. The focus of this course is on the majority of women, that is, Muslims, although non-Muslim women will be addressed. Combination of lecture and discussion.

Houri Berberian is Associate Professor of History and Director of the Middle East Studies Program at California State University, Long Beach.

Center for Near Eastern Studies