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Dr Pernilla Myrne, Gothenburg University, presents: ‘What can manuscript evidence tell us about attitudes to sexuality in the pre and early modern Islamic world?’

Part of the IAIS Visiting Speaker Series

Dr Pernilla Myrne teaches Middle Eastern History and Classical Arabic Literature. Her research focuses on women and sexuality in Arabic literature and Islamic history. She has published several peer-reviewed articles and chapters on gender and sexuality in the pre-modern Islamic world. Her latest publication is a monograph entitled Female Sexuality in the Early Medieval Islamic World; Gender and Sex in Arabic Literature (I.B. Tauris, November 2019).

Event details


Medieval erotic compendia and sex manuals were a popular genre in the Islamic world and some books still circulated in the 20th century.  Dr Myrne is currently mapping the manuscript traditions of this genre, collecting evidence of the spread and readership of the different books. Numerous manuscripts are preserved in collections around the world, and they contain a wealth of information, textual and paratextual. In this lecture, examples of paratextual elements, such as notes and glosses, and what they can tell us about how these books were read and understood by reading communities throughout the centuries are given. In particular, the reception of the earliest erotic manual, Encyclopaedia of Pleasure, which had a particularly tolerant attitude to homosexuality, illicit love affairs and women’s sexual agency is discussed. Its content was spread, in some form, for centuries, and evoked different reactions from readers.

Dr Pernilla Myrne


IAIS Building/LT1