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Bodies and Sexualities in Medieval Islam

COL 202
Fall 2023
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: FGSS 203, RELI 208
Course Cluster and Certificates: Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory Certificate

Islamic societies have long traditions of commentary about the body and sexuality. Medieval Islamic texts are replete with references to homosexual and erotic love that challenge the assumption, common today, that Islamic society is restrictive by its very nature. In this course, we will explore how the body was conceptualized by medieval Muslims. Instead of essentializing the Islamic "viewpoint" on the body, we will survey the variety of opinions and ideas about the body in the medieval Islamic world. We will draw on the Quran, early Abbasid erotic poetry and literature, Islamic medical manuals, philosophical works, and belles-lettres, in order to trace how different understandings of the body and sexuality unfolded over time. In particular, we will focus on the notion of complementarity between the sexes, the role of marriage and procreation, the effects of medical theories on understandings of bodily health and illness, the ethical and legal frameworks governing sexual conduct, and the references to homoeroticism, pederasty, and female same-sex desire found in medieval Arabic and Persian love poetry and literature.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA COL
Course Format: Lecture / DiscussionGrading Mode: Student Option
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (MEST-MN)
Past Enrollment Probability: 90% or above

Last Updated on JUN-25-2024
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