In the post 9/11 context of the United States, Muslims have been a constant presence in news media, typically cast in a negative light as political others who are backwards, threatening, and inherently prone to violence. This pattern has long been replicated in films where Muslims serve as static and dehumanized perpetrators of violence and/or as symbols of a backwards and depraved culture, antithetical to U.S. values and interests. In recent years however, Muslims have become increasingly visible in the entertainment industry, as protagonists and producers of their own media, including G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel, Hulu’s Ramy, and Netflix’s Man Like Mobeen. This course explores a selection of recent media projects created by Muslim writers, actors, musicians, and comedians. We will be pairing films, television shows, music, and comics with scholarship on Islam and religion in the media, analyzing Muslim representation and storytelling in contemporary popular culture. We will evaluate these works on their own terms, noting the ways in which gender and racial hierarchies dictate who gets to represent American Muslims, while also assessing how these new media both disrupt and further reify Muslims’ construction as religious and political outsiders.
Note for spring 2021: Fully remote. Synchronous each meeting.