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Women's Studies, Gender, and Sexuality > Gender Studies

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Children of Afghanistan Cover

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Children of Afghanistan

The Path to Peace

Edited by Jennifer Heath and Ashraf Zahedi

A sweeping examination of Afghanistan’s most vulnerable individuals and the myriad of problems that confront them, Children of Afghanistan not only explores the host of crises that has led the United Nations to call the country “the worst place on earth to be born,” but also offers child-centered solutions to rebuilding the country.

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Chosen among Women

Mary and Fatima in Medieval Christianity and Shi'ite Islam

Mary F. Thurlkill

Chosen among Women: Mary and Fatima in Medieval Christianity and Shi`ite Islam combines historical analysis with the tools of gender studies and religious studies to compare the roles of the Virgin Mary in medieval Christianity with those of Fatima, daughter of the prophet Muhammad, in Shi`ite Islam. The book explores the proliferation of Marian imagery in Late Antiquity through the Church fathers and popular hagiography. It examines how Merovingian authors assimilated powerful queens and abbesses to a Marian prototype to articulate their political significance and, at the same time, censure holy women's public charisma. Mary Thurlkill focuses as well on the importance of Fatima in the evolution of Shi`ite identity throughout the Middle East. She examines how scholars such as Muhammad Baqir al-Majlisi advertised Fatima as a symbol of the Shi`ite holy family and its glorified status in paradise, while simultaneously binding her as a mother to the domestic sphere and patriarchal authority. This important comparative look at feminine ideals in both Shi`ite Islam and medieval Christianity is of relevance and value in the modern world. It will be welcomed by scholars and students of Islam, comparative religion, medieval Christianity, and gender studies.

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Chronic Youth

Disability, Sexuality, and U.S. Media Cultures of Rehabilitation

Julie Passanante Elman

The teenager has often appeared in culture as an anxious figure, the repository for American dreams and worst nightmares, at once on the brink of success and imminent failure. Spotlighting the “troubled teen” as a site of pop cultural, medical, and governmental intervention, Chronic Youth traces the teenager as a figure through which broad threats to the normative order have been negotiated and contained.
 
Examining television, popular novels, science journalism, new media, and public policy, Julie Passanante Elman shows how the teenager became a cultural touchstone for shifting notions of able-bodiedness, heteronormativity, and neoliberalism in the late twentieth century. By the late 1970s, media industries as well as policymakers began developing new problem-driven ‘edutainment’ prominently featuring narratives of disability—from the immunocompromised The Boy in the Plastic Bubble to ABC’s After School Specials and teen sick-lit. Although this conjoining of disability and adolescence began as a storytelling convention, disability became much more than a metaphor as the process of medicalizing adolescence intensified by the 1990s, with parenting books containing neuro-scientific warnings about the incomplete and volatile “teen brain.” Undertaking a cultural history of youth that combines disability, queer, feminist, and comparative media studies, Elman offers a provocative new account of how American cultural producers, policymakers, and medical professionals have mobilized discourses of disability to cast adolescence as a treatable “condition.” By tracing the teen’s uneven passage from postwar rebel to 21st century patient, Chronic Youth shows how teenagers became a lynchpin for a culture of perpetual rehabilitation and neoliberal governmentality.

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Cinemachismo

Masculinities and Sexuality in Mexican Film

By Sergio de la Mora

The first in-depth analysis of how Mexican cinema has both supported and subverted the construction of a gendered and sexualized national identity.

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City Requiem, Calcutta

Gender And The Politics Of Poverty

Ananya Roy

Housing developments emerge amid the paddy fields on the fringes of Calcutta; overflowing trains carry peasant women to informal urban labor markets in a daily commute against hunger; land is settled and claimed in a complex choreography of squatting and evictions: such, Ananya Roy contends, are the distinctive spaces of a communism for the new millennium-where, at a moment of liberalization, the hegemony of poverty is quietly reproduced. An ethnography of urban development in Calcutta, Roy’s book explores the dynamics of class and gender in the persistence of poverty.

City Requiem, Calcutta
emphasizes how gender itself is spatialized and how gender relations are negotiated through the everyday practices of territory. Thus Roy shows how urban developmentalism, in its populist guise, reproduces the relations of masculinist patronage, and, in its entrepreneurial guise, seeks to reclaim a bourgeois Calcutta, gentlemanly in its nostalgias. In doing so, her work expands the field of poverty studies by showing how a politics of poverty is also a poverty of knowledge, a construction and management of social and spatial categories.


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Codes of Misconduct

Regulating Prostitution in Late Colonial Bombay

Ashwini Tambe

Across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, legislators in Bombay passed a series of repetitive laws seeking to control prostitution. During the same time, Bombay’s sex industry grew vast in scale. Ashwini Tambe explores why these remarkably similar laws failed to achieve their goal and questions the actual purpose of such lawmaking.

Against the backdrop of the industrial growth of Bombay, Codes of Misconduct examines the relationship between lawmaking, law enforcement, and sexual commerce. Ashwini Tambe challenges linear readings of how laws create effects and demonstrates that the regulation and criminalization of prostitution were not contrasting approaches to prostitution but different modes of state coercion. By analyzing legal prohibitions as productive forces, she also probes the pornographic imagination of the colonial state, showing how regulations made sexual commerce more visible but rendered the prostitute silent.

Codes of Misconduct engages with debates on state control of sex work and traces how a colonial legacy influences contemporary efforts to contain the spread of HIV and decriminalize sex workers in India today. In doing so, Tambe’s work not only adds to our understanding of empire, sexuality, and the law, it also sheds new light on the long history of Bombay’s transnational links and the social worlds of its underclasses.

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Color of Rape

Gender and Race in Television's Public Spheres

Through an analysis of television images of rape, this book makes important contributions to theories of the public sphere as well as feminist theories of rape. It shows how issues pertaining to race and gender are integrated in television discussions of rape, and how ideas of race, stereotypes of black (male and female) sexuality, and the perceived threat of miscegenation continue to shape contemporary attitudes toward sexual violence.

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Conceiving Masculinity

Male Infertility, Medicine, and Identity

In Conceiving Masculinity, Liberty Walther Barnes puts the world of male infertility under the microscope to examine how culturally pervasive notions of gender shape our understanding of disease, and how disease impacts our personal ideas about gender. 

 

Taking readers inside male infertility clinics, and interviewing doctors and couples dealing with male infertility, Barnes provides a rich account of the social aspects of the confusing and frustrating diagnosis of infertility. She explains why men resist a stigmatizing label like "infertile," and how men with poor fertility redefine for themselves what it means to be manly and masculine in a society that prizes male virility. Conceiving Masculinity also details how and why men embrace medical technologies and treatment for infertility.

 

Broaching a socially taboo topic, Barnes emphasizes that infertility is not just a women's issue. She shows how gender and disease are socially constructed within social institutions and by individuals. 

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Conceiving the Future

Pronatalism, Reproduction, and the Family in the United States, 1890-1938

Laura L. Lovett

Through nostalgic idealizations of motherhood, family, and the home, influential leaders in early twentieth-century America constructed and legitimated a range of reforms that promoted human reproduction. Their pronatalism emerged from a modernist conviction that reproduction and population could be regulated. European countries sought to regulate or encourage reproduction through legislation; America, by contrast, fostered ideological and cultural ideas of pronatalism through what Laura Lovett calls “nostalgic modernism,” which romanticized agrarianism and promoted scientific racism and eugenics. Lovett looks closely at the ideologies of five influential American figures: Mary Lease's maternalist agenda, Florence Sherbon's eugenic “fitter families” campaign, George Maxwell's “homecroft” movement of land reclamation and home building, Theodore Roosevelt's campaign for conservation and country life, and Edward Ross's sociological theory of race suicide and social control. Demonstrating the historical circumstances that linked agrarianism, racism, and pronatalism, Lovett shows how reproductive conformity was manufactured, how it was promoted, and why it was coercive. In addition to contributing to scholarship in American history, gender studies, rural studies, and environmental history, Lovett's study sheds light on the rhetoric of “family values” that has regained currency in recent years. Lovett examines how nostalgic idealizations of motherhood, the family, and the home were used to construct and legitimate policies that promoted reproduction in the early 20th-century U.S. In Europe, countries sought to regulate or encourage reproduction through legislation. America, by contrast, fostered ideological and cultural ideas of pronatalism through what Lovett terms “nostalgic modernism,” which romanticized agrarianism and promoted scientific racism and eugenics. She looks closely at five historical figures and policies: Elizabeth Lease’s maternalist agenda; Florence Sherbon’s eugenic “Fitter Families” campaign; George Maxwell’s “Homecroft” campaign of land reclamation and home building; Theodore Roosevelt’s campaign for conservation and country life; and Edward Ross’s sociological theory of race suicide and social control. Understanding the historical circumstances that associated agrarianism, racism, and pronatalism, she demonstrates how reproductive conformity was manufactured, how it was promoted, and why it was coercive. In addition to contributing to scholarship in American history, gender studies, rural studies, and environmental history, Lovett’s study also sheds light on current “family values” rhetoric. Through nostalgic idealizations of motherhood, family, and the home, argues Laura Lovett, influential leaders in early twentieth-century America constructed and legitimated a range of reforms that promoted human reproduction. Their pronatalism emerged from a modernist conviction that reproduction and population could be regulated. European countries sought to regulate or encourage reproduction through legislation; America, by contrast, fostered ideological and cultural ideas of pronatalism through what Lovett terms “nostalgic modernism,” which romanticized agrarianism and promoted scientific racism and eugenics. Through nostalgic idealizations of motherhood, family, and the home, influential leaders in early twentieth-century America constructed and legitimated a range of reforms that promoted human reproduction. Their pronatalism emerged from a modernist conviction that reproduction and population could be regulated. European countries sought to regulate or encourage reproduction through legislation; America, by contrast, fostered ideological and cultural ideas of pronatalism through what Laura Lovett calls “nostalgic modernism,” which romanticized agrarianism and promoted scientific racism and eugenics. Lovett looks closely at the ideologies of five influential American figures: Mary Lease's maternalist agenda, Florence Sherbon's eugenic “fitter families” campaign, George Maxwell's “homecroft” movement of land reclamation and home building, Theodore Roosevelt's campaign for conservation and country life, and Edward Ross's sociological theory of race suicide and social control. Demonstrating the historical circumstances that linked agrarianism, racism, and pronatalism, Lovett shows how reproductive conformity was manufactured, how it was promoted, and why it was coercive. In addition to contributing to scholarship in American history, gender studies, rural studies, and environmental history, Lovett's study sheds light on the rhetoric of “family values” that has regained currency in recent years.

The Concubine, the Princess, and the Teacher Cover

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The Concubine, the Princess, and the Teacher

Voices from the Ottoman Harem

Translated and edited by Douglas Scott Brookes

In the Western imagination, the Middle Eastern harem was a place of sex, debauchery, slavery, miscegenation, power, riches, and sheer abandon. But for the women and children who actually inhabited this realm of the imperial palace, the reality was vastly different. In this collection of translated memoirs, three women who lived in the Ottoman imperial harem in Istanbul between 1876 and 1924 offer a fascinating glimpse “behind the veil” into the lives of Muslim palace women of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The memoirists are Filizten, concubine to Sultan Murad V; Princess Ayse, daughter of Sultan Abdulhamid II; and Safiye, a schoolteacher who instructed the grandchildren and harem ladies of Sultan Mehmed V. Their recollections of the Ottoman harem reveal the rigid protocol and hierarchy that governed the lives of the imperial family and concubines, as well as the hundreds of slave women and black eunuchs in service to them. The memoirists show that, far from being a place of debauchery, the harem was a family home in which polite and refined behavior prevailed. Douglas Brookes explains the social structure of the nineteenth-century Ottoman palace harem in his introduction. These three memoirs, written across a half century and by women of differing social classes, offer a fuller and richer portrait of the Ottoman imperial harem than has ever before been available in English.

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