Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Religious Studies

Reader 1

Erin Runions

Reader 2

Luis Salés


The complexity that scholars have rightly identified when it comes to the gender expression of Deborah and Jael is due in part because they have been written within the contexts of Neo-Assyrian and Biblical notions of gender. While ANE sources will be used as points of comparison throughout the thesis (mainly in regards to Jael), what this thesis is truly interested in investigating is how Deborah and Jael navigate their gender. I argue that Deborah and Jael retain their gender identity as women not in spite of their masculinity but because of it. In other words, their masculinity is one aspect of how the text represents them as women.

A combination of Jack Halberstam’s (1998) theory of female masculinity, as well as Jean Noble’s conceptualization of female masculinity helps us understand the process by which Deborah and Jael successfully incorporate masculinity into their identities as women. What is important to say now is that for Halberstam, masculinity is not synonymous with “man” and that femininity is not synonymous with “woman”. When a woman engages in masculinity, it becomes, therefore, a form of female masculinity. The female, for Halberstam, indicates a female body, not femininity. This is why Noble is important to include as well. For Noble, female masculinity is a process by which individuals appropriate culturally identifiable performances of masculinity and femininity, but in new or unique ways

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.