Week 1 and 2 Roll Call: Revised

A reader left a comment about perhaps including a short summary for each of the readings. I think this is a great idea and I’ll be incorporating it in my Roll Calls from here on out. Because I don’t know what the readings are about before I read them, and because I really don’t have the time to find synopses of them, I’ll be updating Roll Call at the end of each week rather than at the beginning. This will be easier on me, and will help me reach my resolutions goal in one go. So, here’s my revised Roll Call for Weeks 1 and 2.

Historical Scholarship of the Modern Middle East, Late Ottoman Empire


Berkes, Niyazi. The Development of Secularism in Turkey. Montreal: McGill University Press, 1964. [reprinted in 1998 by Routledge; this is the version I used]
: Berkes traces the various secularizing (read: modernizing) developments in education, legal, and economic policies beginning with the Tulip Era under Sultan Ahmed III in 1718, followed by the promulgation of the Tanzimat reforms under Sultan Abdul-Mejid in 1839, continued under the Meshrutiyet of the 1908 Young Turk Revolution, and finally concluding with the Kemalist reforms and the formation of the secularized Turkish Republic in the 1920s.

Week 2

Lerner, Daniel. The Passing of Traditional Society. Glencoe, IL: The Free Press, 1958. (selected chapters)
: A sociological study of the transition from traditional to modern society which posits Europe and the United States as models for the rest of the world to follow as they make an inevitable transition to modernization.

Lewis, Bernard. The Emergence of Modern Turkey. London: Oxford University Press, 1961.
: This work follows the modernization theory as outlined by Lerner in his examination of the emergence of modern Turkey from empire to republic in the first decades of the twentieth century.

Masters, Bruce. The Arabs of the Ottoman Empire, 1516-1918: A Social and Cultural History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.
: Masters provides an analysis of the Arab Ottoman Empire from its conquest in 1516 to its final dissolution after World War I in 1918, analyzing Ottoman, local Arab, and European sources to show the ways in which Sunni Muslim Arabs took an active role in the administration of central authority in the Arab provinces.

Historical Studies of Women and Gender

Week 1
Topic: The history of women and gender: experience and discourse

Hershatter, Gail. “The Gender of Memory: Rural Chinese Women and the 1950s.” Signs 28, no. 1 (2002): 43-70.
: Using the oral histories of rural Chinese women from four villages in Shaanxi province, Hershatter examines the ways in which gender informs how memory is created and transmitted in the context of the Maoist Revolution of the 1950s.

Higginbotham, Evelyn Brooks. “African-American Women’s History and the Metalanguage of Race.” Signs 17 (Winter 1992): 251-274.
: Higginbotham challenges white feminist, African American, and African American women’s history scholars to be aware of the tendency of race to be used as a metalanguage that has led to the subsuming of other categories of identity and experience, namely, gender, class, and sexuality.

Offen, Karen. “History of Women.” In Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History, 463-71.
: A nice overview of the history of women’s and gender history in the academy. This is a helpful resource for those who are unfamiliar with the origins, development, and debates in the field, from the late 18th century to the present.

Passerini, Luisa. “Women’s Personal Narratives: Myths, Experiences, and Emotions.” In Joy Webster, et al, eds., Interpreting Women’s Lives: Feminist Theory and Personal Narrative. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1989: 189-197.
: By looking at the ways in which Italian working class women shape narratives of rebelliousness and work in oral historical interviews, the author contends that women tell their stories as part of larger projects of collective identity and memory in response to social and cultural traditions and expectations, and with different aims and goals in the telling of their story as it related to self-identity. Any analysis, then, of women’s autobiographical accounts must be analyzed in light of the varied ways and reasons for which they describe their life experiences, taking into account historical context, alternative historical sources, and interdisciplinary methodologies.

Scott, Joan. “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis.” American Historical Review 91, no. 5 (1986): 1053-1075.
: Scott reflects on the historiography of women’s history as it developed in the 1970s and first half of the 1980s. She then goes on to propose the use of gender as a category of historical analysis that could be used to examine power structures and relationships throughout history with the experience of gender at its center.

Scott, Joan. “Revisiting ‘Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis.’” American Historical Review 113, no. 5 (December 2008): 1334-1430.
: In this article, Scott essentially tells us that we missed the point (and possibly the ship) of her paradigmatic 1986 article. To remedy this, and in order for gender as a category of analysis to remain useful, one must keep asking questions of it, about how its meanings are established and what these meanings signify in which contexts.

Scott, Joan. “The Evidence of Experience.” Critical Inquiry 17, no. 4 (1991): 773-797.
: In this article, Scott challenges the trend in recent historical writing to use experience as a foundational category of historical analysis (foundational concepts are those that are seen as absolute categories, such as gender, race, class, etc., to be trusted implicitly). She problematizes this foundationalization by pointing out that experience, and the narration of experience, exists in a context and is, in and of itself (just like gender, race, and class) constructed and variable. The solution is to historicize experience by putting it into its proper historical context.

Week 2
Topic: Feminist anthropology and the body: women in medieval Europe

Bynum, Caroline Walker. Holy Feast, Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987.
: In this work, Bynum attempts to counter existing scholarly analyses of women’s fasting during the late medieval period, challenging interpretations that view it as self-hatred and mutilation in response to the internalization of misogynistic views of the female body. Rather, women’s fasting during the period was a form of empowerment, allowing women to express their religiosity, serve the community, and shape life outcomes in a society that offered them little to no agency.

Caciola, Nancy. “Mystics, Demoniacs, and the Psychology of Spirit Possession in Medieval Europe.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 42, no. 2 (April 2000): 268-306.
: Caciola’s work, coming almost a decade and a half after Bynum’s, serves as a challenge to it. The author argues that scholars of medieval female hagiographies have for too long focused on the internal conditions of the inspired person herself, and haven’t critically engaged popular reception to these women as revealed in their hagiographies by reading against the grain. In so doing, Caciola shows that most of these women saints, rather than being venerated during their lifetimes, were often the topics of suspicion and derision by the local community, generally viewed as being demonically rather divinely possessed.

Ortner, Sherry B. “Is Female to Male as Nature Is to Culture?” In Michelle Z. Rosaldo and Louise Lamphere, eds., Women, Culture, and Society. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1974: 68-87.
: In this piece, Ortner seeks to answer the big question of why have women been given an inferior cultural status to men across all times and places. She does this by suggesting that women’s perceived closeness to nature through her physiology, social role, and psyche, and men’s association with culture, in a world where culture > nature, has placed women at a disadvantage when it comes to access to access to the highest places of cultural power. This piece comes at a time when questions of patriarchy were beginning to become main points of analysis within the academy.


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