Saturday, November 7, 2015

A Course on Muslim Women Writers

I am delighted that in the spring, 2016, I will be teaching a new course, "Muslim Women Writers." Having taught works by Muslim women writers like Mariama Ba, Nawal el Saadawi, Alifa Rifaat, and Leila Aboulela, mostly under the rubric of Post-colonial Literature, I have decided to create a course devoted solely to such writers.

The Muslim world is perhaps the least understood or most misunderstood part of the world among Americans, who tend to see it as homogeneous, and to whom the very name Muslim conjures up images of religious fanaticism and terrorism. They tend to imagine Muslim women as perpetually veiled or burka-clad, suffering in silence under archaic religious and cultural traditions. That there is a longstanding tradition of writing by Muslim women in languages such as Urdu, Arabic, Turkish, Hausa, Swahili, French and English is not well known among Americans.

This course will explore the prevailing misconceptions. With a focus on writings in English and some translations, we will discuss writers from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Egypt, Sudan, Senegal, and the USA, in the context of Islam, Orientalism, Islamophobia, and Islamic feminism. It will illuminate the ways Muslim women writers imagine and interpret their condition within the framework of culture, religion, and gender.


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