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BA Arabic Studies / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Women and Gender in the Middle East and North Africa

Unit code MEST20352
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

As well as challenging prevailing stereotypes about the women of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) as passive victims of their cultures and religions, this course will give students the opportunity to gain in depth understanding of women and gender in MENA.

The course covers the history of MENA women in the context of Islam, Eastern Christianity and Judaism.  It examines gender inequalities, polygamy, veiling, adultery, the patriarchal family, property rights and violence against women.  It also studies the emergence of Middle Eastern and North African feminisms and the interplay between socio-economic forces, nationalist processes of modernity and women's political ambitions.

In the light of the recent uprisings in the region the course looks into women in the aftermath of the so-called ‘Arab springs’ and the prospects of change in MENA societies.

Aims

It is the aim of this course to:

·         Enable students to develop an awareness of key historical and contemporary issues pertinent to the interdisciplinary study of Women and Gender in the Middle Eastern and North African contexts with the element of Diversity as a guiding concept.

·         Debunk existing stereotypes about women and gender in MENA and equip students with a deep understanding of this study area by covering a wide spectrum of regions and subject matter.

·         Enable students to become familiar with a wide range of modernist and post-modernist approaches to the study of Women and Gender in MENA, learning to appreciate cultural representations and practices as part of power relations and gender inequalities.

·         Gain a comprehensive understanding of Women and Gender in MENA from a multi and interdisciplinary          perspective.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Relate their learning experiences to the social, cultural, and other dimensions which go to define gender in the global context in general and the MENA context in particular,
  • Have a good grasp of the theme of Women and Gender in MENA and appreciate the specificity of this region and its people,
  • Understand the element of diversity which underpins the study of Women and  Gender in MENA,
  • Overcome prevailing stereotypes about Muslim/MENA societies especially concerning Gender relations.
  • Demonstrate familiarity with the core texts and gender-related theories on Women and Gender in MENA
  • Have appropriate command of key concepts and terminologies related to the multi and interdisciplinary study of Women and Gender in MENA.

Syllabus

Lectures:

Week 1: General Introduction to the course and assessment

               What is Feminism?

Week 2: Representations of MENA Women: Passive victims or active agents? 

Week 3: Women's Movements and the Rise of Feminism

Week 4: Reconstructing Gender                                                

Week 5: Family Laws as Feminist Platforms

Week 6: Reading Week

Week 7: Middle Eastern Women and Patriarchy

Week 8: Veiling, Unveiling and Re-veiling

Week 9: Islamic Feminism

Week 10: Gender and Violence in MENA

Week 11: Women & Revolutions/Arab Springs: the Prospects of Change in MENA Societies

Tutorials:

Students will be assigned to small groups for weekly tutorials. These will be based on the weekly set readings which will be allocated to students at the start of the semester.

Each student will deliver a seminar presentation, which assesses both content (deconstruction of the text), and presentation skills. 

Teaching and learning methods

·         Lectures

·         Seminars

·         Directed Reading

·         Course work

·         Blackboard E-Learning

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Relate their learning experiences to the social, cultural, political, and other dimensions which characterize Gender Studies in the context of the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Gain a good understanding about MENA women’s struggle, resistance and resilience in the face of religious and patriarchal laws
  • Gain a good understanding of the workings of patriarchy and how it shapes gender relations
  • Build awareness about the diversity which distinguishes MENA societies, their cultures, religions and populations and how this is reflected in gender relations.
  • Gain access to the study of a range of specialist areas within the discipline

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Develop their analytical and critical thinking
  • Gain skills in synthesis and analysis of data and information
  • Develop advanced skills of written and verbal communication
  • Improve their abilities of organization and expression of ideas

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Increase their discussion and debating ethics
  • Use library, electronic and online resources
  • Improve their reporting skills
  • Develop their group ethos
  • Engage in self and peer review/evaluation

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Gain skills in independent learning.
  • Develop their abilities in co-operative learning and team work.
  • Develop their time management and punctuality skills
  • Gain skills in debating and presentation
  • Apply Subject Knowledge
  • Understand group dynamics and intercultural backgrounds in the use of negotiating skills to reach objectives.

Employability skills

Other
¿ Time Management and punctuality ¿ Presentation skills ¿ Critical thinking and analytical skills. ¿ Discussion and debating ethics ¿ Organization and expression of ideas

Assessment methods

Assessment task

Length

Weighting within unit

Essay

Seminar presentation

Examination

1 x 2000 words

20 minutes

2 hours

40%

15%

45%

Formative Assessment: Discussant of directed reading.

Every student will be appointed as discussant of the set weekly reading which will be presented by another student as seminar presentation. This exercise will develop peer review skills as discussion skills.

 

RE-SIT ASSESSMENT

Assessment task

Length

 written examination

 2 hours

 

Feedback methods

  • Written and oral feedback on seminar presentations
  • Written feedback on final exam and essay
  • Additional one-to-one feedback: Lecturer’s 2 weekly office hours are the chief venue for feedback. This is a walk-in, i.e., no prior appointment is required. 

Recommended reading

1.       Ahmed, Leila, Women and Gender in Islam:  Historical roots of a modern debate, Yale University Press, 1993

2.       Lazreg, Marnia, Questioning the Veil: Open letters to Muslim Women, Princeton University Press, 2011

3.       Mernissi, Fatima, Women in Islam: An Historical and Theological Enquiry, Blackwell Publishers, 1991

4.      Salhi, Z. S., Gender and Diversity in the Middle East and North Africa. Routledge, 2010.

5.      Salhi, Z S., Gender and Violence in Islamic Societies: Patriarchy, Islamism and Politics in the Middle East and North Africa, London: IB Tauris, 2013

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Zahia Smail Salhi Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Lectures

The opening Lecture will introduce students to the module components in terms of content, assessment, weekly reading and tutorials. Subsequent lectures will be devoted to covering the detailed syllabus.

Lectures will introduce the topic of the weekly reading which will then be discussed in the weekly tutorials.

Readings will be distributed ahead of the lectures/tutorials, and uploaded to the blackboard.

Students will be expected to come to their lectures and tutorials well-prepared and to participate vigorously in class discussions. It is essential that they complete all the required readings before the lecture/tutorial.

Students will be expected to take notes on the lectures which will constitute additional materials to be used for revision for their written exam.

Tutorials

Lectures will introduce the topic of the weekly reading, which is then discussed in the tutorial of the subsequent week.

Students are expected to prepare the reading so that they can better engage with the lecture and contribute critically to the discussion of the compulsory reading in the tutorial group.

The weekly reading assignments require regular work outside classes and in advance of the tutorials, including close study of assigned texts, note taking, summarizing or excerpting, as well as the creation of texts in note form. Readings will be contextualized and discussed during classes.

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