Gender, Violence, and Biblical Fiction
To many, Bathsheba is simply the nude who seduced David. The connotations of being a Jezebel are strong enough that a popular feminist website re-appropriates the insult. Yet the biblical texts themselves make it difficult to imagine female characters as types, or the violence with which they are often associated as comprehensible. Furthermore, Hebrew Bible figures have often been taken up as sites to explore contemporary questions relating to gender and violence. Did Dinah 'ask for it'? Does Ruth's story celebrate the refugee and mother or justify a colonial politics of assimilation? In this course, students will examine literary works that reuse difficult portions of biblical narrative and challenge readers to reassess biblical violence and its legacies. By engaging with both more popular extended rewritings like The Red Tent and world-literary political works like A Grain of Wheat, this course will reconsider biblical women and the variety of problematic and productive ways they may be appropriated in fiction and in popular culture.