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Pernilla Myrne

SENIOR LECTURER

Department of Languages &
Literatures
Visiting address
Renströmsgatan 6
41256 Göteborg
Room number
C554
Postal address
Box 200
40530 Göteborg

About Pernilla Myrne

I completed my PhD at the University of Gothenburg in 2008 with a thesis on early Arabic-Islamic biographies on women. After having worked as a teacher for some years, I obtained a postdoctoral fellowship funded by the Swedish Research Council, which allowed me to spend 2011 and 2012 at New York University, where I examined gender and pleasure in premodern Arabic erotic literature. I have worked as a senior lecturer at the University of Gothenburg since January 2015. 2020–2021 I am a research fellow at Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, where I prepare a critical edition of the tenth-century erotic manual Jawāmiʿ al-Ladhdha.

Research

My research interests include the representation of women in pre-modern Arabic literature, attitudes to sexuality in the medieval Islamic world, as well as women as creative agents. I am also interested in social history, in particular the role of women and slaves in society. One of my research interests is Islamic manuscript culture, and I am currently mapping the manuscript traditions of medieval Arabic sex advice manuals, a hitherto unexplored primary source material.

Research Projects

2018–2020: Medieval Arabic sex manuals; manuscript tradition and reception (funded by the Swedish Research Council).

In this project, I examine Arabic-Islamic sex manuals and their reception by means of mapping the manuscript traditions and examining manuscript evidence. This genre flourished for centuries and, though always positive to matrimonial sexual pleasure, the authors adopted different approaches to more contentious issues, such as same-sex desire, extramarital affairs, and women’s sexual agency. By investigating the spread and readership of the different books, the project seeks to identify the variety of attitudes towards sexuality across time and space in the premodern Arab-Islamic world.

2015–2018: Love, Body, and Desire: Attitudes to Erotic Love and Women’s Sexuality in Premodern Arabic Literature (funded by the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation).

A main aim of this project was to investigate how the intellectual climate during the Abbasid Caliphate contributed to attitudes to erotic love and women’s sexuality. The project resulted in the monography Female Sexuality in the Early Medieval Islamic World, published by IB Tauris in 2020.

2012–2015: Eloquent women: Genre, rhetoric and gender in early Arabic literature (funded by the Swedish Research Council).

In this project, I examined the words of women were represented in Early Arabic literature. Women were marginalised in the early written Arabic culture, as they did not learn to read and write to the same degree as men. Nevertheless, the classical Arabic literature is full of portrayals of eloquent women, whose words are quoted with admiration. They often used their rhetorical skills to help their families, or simply to highlight their own qualities.

Teaching

I have taught Arabic and Middle Eastern history since 2005. I also teach Arabic and Arabic literature and I lecture on various aspects of Arabic-Islamic history and culture.