Villanova faculty and students now have online access to the Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures (Leiden: Brill, 2007). The Encyclopedia focuses on women and the civilizations and societies in which Islam has played an historic role. It is “an essential reference work for students and researchers in the fields of gender studies, Middle Eastern and Islamic studies, as well as scholars of religion, history, politics, anthropology, geography and related disciplines.” Over 1000 scholars from around the world contributed to the encyclopedia, among them Prof. Hibba Abugideiri who teaches in Villanova’s history department.
The Encyclopedia is organized thematically as follows:
Vol. 1: Methodologies, Paradigms and Sources
Vol. 2: Family, Law and Politics
Vol. 3: Family, Body, Sexuality, and Health
Vol. 4: Economics, Education, Mobility and Space
Vol. 5: Practices, Interpretations and Representations
Vol. 6: Index
The treatment of concepts such as orientalism, harem, and jihad is thorough but still comprehensible to undergraduate students. Each entry includes a bibliography which traces the scholarly literature on any given topic. Cross references are hyper-linked and easy to follow. Entries can be viewed in html or pdf formats, e-mailed and/or printed. Most entries are subdivided by geographic area, but not all geographic areas are systematically covered. A search of the full text of all entries can only be done through the Advanced Search feature. The Quick Search link, which can be limited to Search this publication only, searches only the titles of entries.
Some of the letters used to transliterate Arabic names and terms are not available on standard U.S. keyboards. Two examples are the letters kāf (ﻙ) and ḥā (ﺡ), which are occasionally rendered as ß and £ respectively. Scholars with an Arabic keyboard or those who are familiar with keyboard shortcuts can enter symbols such as £ or ß or can copy and paste them from other sources into the search box. Undergraduate students who are generally not familiar with transliteration issues may not grasp the limitations of certain search terms. Transliteration is also not consistent throughout the Encyclopedia and it is advisable to try different versions in order to catch all instances of a given term, e.g., Ibn Hanbal is also transliterated as Ibn £anbal
Links to the Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures can be found in the Library’s catalog, on the Gender and Women’s Studies subject guide as well as under E-Reference Resources (History, Multicultural Studies, Sociology).
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