Fall 2021

Law, Sex, and Family in the Wider Mediterranean (1300–1800)

Listed in: European Studies, as EUST-227  |  History, as HIST-223  |  Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies, as SWAG-223

Moodle site: Course


Jutta G. Sperling (Section 01)


(Offered as HIST 223 [EU/ME/TC/TS/C/P] and SWAG 223) 

This course invites students to assume a comparative and intersectional perspective when analyzing differently organized patriarchal societies of the Mediterranean. Our focus will be on women’s access to properties, marriage, divorce, child rearing, and sexuality; our case studies are located in Renaissance Italy, early modern France, Byzantium, the Ottoman Empire, Mamluk Egypt, Islamic Iberia, and Jewish communities in France and Italy. We will attempt to separate the issue of religious denomination from family history and foreground the question of commensurability in matters relating to gender, sex, and kinship. Topics include: marital gift exchange and divorce in Renaissance Italy and Mamluk Cairo; female resistance to arranged marriages in France and Anatolia; women’s access to power in the Ottoman harem; different forms of slavery in the Mediterranean; the fate of female refugees and converts in the Mediterranean; male and female same-sex desire in Renaissance Italy, the Ottoman Empire, and Safavid Iran. Writing assignments will consist of comparative analyses of historical literature. This is a reading- and writing-intensive course. Class discussions and group work.

Fall semester. Visiting Professor Sperling.


Attention to Issues of Gender and Sexuality, Attention to Speaking, Attention to Writing, Transnational or World Cultures Taught in English


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021