All posts tagged "harems"

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Dreams of Tresspass: Book Discussion

Dreams of Trespass coverDreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood by Fatima Mernissi

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 5:30-7:00 PM

King Library Room 255/257


Discussion led by Shalin Gerami, Directory of SJSU Women’s Studies and Professor of Interdisciplinary Social Studies.


"Muslim Journeys: Literary Reflections: Let’s Talk About It" is a reading group and discussion series designed to bring greater awareness of the Muslim community in the United States and abroad.  In Fall 2013 the group will read and discuss three books. For more information contact


Dreams of Tresspass was featured on as an online book club selection earlier this year


"Muslim Journeys: Let’s Talk About It" is made possible through grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association.

Muslim Journeys: Dreams of Trespass

Cover to Dreams of Trespass In Dreams of Trespass, Fatima Mernissi tells her memories of growing up in urban Morocco with stories of the women who surrounded her in the courtyard of her youth – her mother, aunts and cousins. Living in a domestic harem and deprived of access to the world outside, these women used their imagination to recreate their own place … a provocative story of a girl confronting the mysteries of time and place, gender and sex in the recent Muslim world.


Questions to think about as you read the book.

  •  Hudud or the "sacred frontier" is defined by Mernissi’s father as necessary because "Harmony exists when each group respects the prescribed limit of the other; trespassing leads only to sorrow and unhappiness." What are the possible political and social dimensions of secluding women in domestic harems?
  •  What is the significance of the different stories offered by women in the book to explain the origins of harems?
  •  A heroine from The Arabian Nights, Princess Burdur, inspires women to "turn the world upside down" when their situation is hopeless. How does this relate to Mernissi’s life and how does it inspire her?

Please feel free to leave your  comments below.


Muslim Journeys Bookshelf is part of a series of programs, Bridging Cultures:  Muslim Journeys, a joint project of the San Jose Public Library and the San Jose State University Library made possible through grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Library Association and George Mason University.