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Everett K. Rowson

Associate Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies

Ph.D. 1982, Yale University.

Office Address: 

Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies 50 Washington Square South Room 304 New York, NY 10012


(212) 998-8918


(212) 995-4689

Courses Taught:

Sexuality in Classical Arabic Texts
Classical Islamic Literature of Ethics and Advice
Topics in Islamic Studies: Islamic Theology/Philosophy

Areas of Research/Interest: 

Medieval Islamic literature, law, theology, gender and society

External Affiliations:

American Research Center in Egypt (President, 2002-), American Institute for Yemeni Studies (Treasurer, 1995- ), Executive Editorial Board, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, third edition (2001-), Editorial Board, Tabari Translation Project, 1989-; Supervisor, Cumulative Index Project (for the 38 volumes), 1999.


My primary research interests are in the intellectual and social history of the medieval Islamic world as known to us through the medium of Arabic texts. I began my scholarly career as a student of Islamic philosophy, and my first book was a study of a tenth-century work on the soul that represented one form of adaptation of the Greek Neoplatonic heritage to Islamic religious commitments. While I have maintained an ongoing interest in Arabic and Islamic Neoplatonism, a research position I obtained while completing my dissertation opened my eyes to the world of medieval Arabic literature, and in particular Arabic rhetorical prose, which in turn sparked my ongoing fascination with the interactions between different discourses (philosophical and literary, but also theological, legal, and historical). Investigation into the relationships among the various groups that produced the texts I was reading inevitably took me further into the area of social history, and I then began to explore aspects of medieval conceptions of gender and sexuality, a topic that has proved particularly rich for looking at how different genres of writing deal with a single topic of fundamental human concern. After publishing a series of articles on effeminacy and homosexuality, I am now working to complete a monograph on homosexuality in medieval Islamic cultures as treated in literary, legal, medical, philosophical, and mystical texts.

Since my arrival at NYU in 1993, I have been happy to have the opportunity to indulge my rather broad interests by offering a variety of courses to both undergraduates and graduate students. My undergraduate courses are mostly organized around rather general, but important, topics such as education, religious tolerance and intolerance, religion and government, and, of course, gender and sexuality. In graduate seminars I aim to train students in the critical reading of Arabic texts while at the same time introducing them to contemporary scholarship based on those texts, and have offered courses on such topics as Islamic theology, philosophy, ethics and advice literature, and, again, gender and sexuality.

Selected Publications: 

A Muslim Philosopher on the Soul and Its Fate: Al-`Amiri's Kitab al-Amad `al l-abad, American Oriental Series, vol. 69, New Haven, 1988

The History of al-Tabari, volume XXII: The Marwanid Restoration, (annotated English translation), Albany: SUNY Press, 1989

"Religion and Politics in the Career of Badi` al-Zaman al-Hamadhani," Journal of the American Oriental Society 107 (1987), 653-73

The Philosopher As Litterateur: al-Tawhidi and His Predecessors," Zeitschrift fur Geschichte der Arabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften 6 (1990), 50-92

"The Categorization of Gender and Sexual Irregularity in Medieval Arabic Vice Lists," in Body Guards: The Cultural Politics of Gender Ambiguity, ed. Julia Epstein and Kristina Straub (New York and London: Routledge, 1991), 50-79

"The Effeminates of Early Medina," Journal of the American Oriental Society 111 (1991), 671-93

"Two Homoerotic Narratives from Mamluk Literature: al-Safadi's Law`at al-shaki and Ibn Daniyal's al-Mutayyam," in Homoeroticism in Classical Arabic Literature, ed. J. W. Wright, Jr. and Everett K. Rowson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), 158-191

"Gender Irregularity As Entertainment: Institutionalized Transvestism at the Caliphal Court in Medieval Baghdad," in Gender and Difference in the Middle Ages, edited by Sharon Farmer and Carol Braun Pasternack (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003), 45-72

"An Alexandrian Age in Fourteenth-Century Damascus: Twin Commentaries on Two Celebrated Arabic Epistles," Mamluk Studies Review 7 (2003), 97-110

"Arabic: Middle Ages to Nineteenth Century," Encyclopedia of Erotic Literature, Routledge (New York, 2006), I, 43-61

Updated on 11/07/2016