Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Lise Schreier, Ph.D.


This thesis aims to analyze and place Fatima Mernissi’s Dreams of Trespass, Tales of a Harem Girlhood, within the broader scholarship of feminist thought in the Muslim-Arab world and the global understanding of gender dynamics. As one of the most prolific and magnetic scholars, authors and feminists, Fatima Mernissi’s books, papers and stories are published around the globe. However, her personal semi-autobiography, Dreams of Trespass and the contradictory themes it presents has largely escaped in depth analysis by feminist scholars of the Muslim-Arab world. After establishing comprehensive backgrounds of different previous Muslim-Arab feminist methodologies used to analyze Mernissi’s works, the histories of Egypt and Morocco during the 1940-50s (the time of her childhood) and the context of the harem, I use literary analysis and hermeneutics to explore how Mernissi presents her experience and contradictory understanding of the harem in Dreams of Trespass. I assert that her goal in writing this book is to present her contradictory reality of the harem as both allowing for women’s resistance and perpetuating the restraints of the harem. As she reclaims not only her experience, but also the experiences of the women in her harem, this is justified within the paradigm of islamic feminism, qualified by the small i, because it allows women to proclaim the validity of their empowerment within their perceived realities.