All students at CCA are required to complete Cultural History as a part of their Humanities & Sciences requirement. A menu of courses will be offered each year and students may choose from these courses to fulfill the Cultural History requirement. The courses offered to complete the requirement will be historical in nature, will have a substantial non-Western component, and will introduce students to an historical awareness of cultural diversity. Objectives include an introduction to historical and critical thinking, to research methods and uses of evidence and primary sources, and to provide historical context for contemporary citizenship.
This course surveys the complex manifestations of female identities, gender roles, and expressions of sexuality in Islamic cultures from 7th-century Arabia to the present. Situating the role of women in pre-Islamic Arabia, we will explore the changing role of women as Islam became spread and became a political force and trace its links with the nearby Byzantine world. Examining cross-cultural links in the formation of gendered identities in the Islamic world, we will examine the representations in materials such as painting, architecture, literature, photography, film, popular culture, and contemporary arts. Given the historical, chronological and geographic breadth of the material, our purpose will be to situate female identity and questions of sexuality within topics such as political and religious authority, Sufism (Islamic mysticism), the patronage and use of architectural space, female artists, homosexuality, discourses of the veil and the harem, 19th-century Orientalist fantasies, nationalism and colonialism, and current political debates. Going beyond notions of the exotic and the oppressed, we will analyze the ways in which women and marginal figures react to, negotiate, and can subvert the systems within which they operate.