Aysha MusaAysha Musa

BA (Hons) 1st Class, MA (Distinction), FHEA

PhD Candidate

Fully funded by SIIBS Scholarship
Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies (SIIBS) and the School of English
University of Sheffield

Supervisor: Dr Katie Edwards


Aysha Musa is a fully funded second year PhD student with the Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies (SIIBS) at the University of Sheffield. She is working in the field of Gender, Sexuality, the Bible and Popular Culture and has recently become a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). She graduated from the University of Sheffield with a BA in Biblical Studies in 2013 with first class honours, as well as receiving an Academic Award and the Sheffield Graduate Award. Aysha received funding to undertake an MA in Biblical Studies Research at the University of Sheffield, completing it in 2015 with a Distinction. Her PhD focuses on the constructions of gender and sexuality in the biblical book of Judges, specifically chapters 4 and 5.


My thesis investigates the construction of Jael, a female character from the Biblical Book of Judges, paying particular attention to how she is framed in both masculine and feminine ways. My thesis interrogates gender constructions and stereotypes throughout, which has involved looking at the dichotomy of roles and behaviours that are socially and historically considered male or female. Some examples include, passiveness and activeness, and nurturing and violence. I am looking at these gendered roles with the aim of revealing that gender and gender roles are social constructions rather than occurring from biological difference as Simone de Beauvior recognised.

The central concern of my thesis will be to work towards promoting a different understanding of the current sex/gender system, in accordance with two of Judith Butler’s statements, the first, that gender is performance and the second that the term ‘female’ is a limiting and limited term. Therefore, throughout my thesis I am employing a range of gender critical theories including feminist and masculinity theories, queer theory and genderfuck, in order to do violence to gender binaries and the boundaries of being ‘female’.

Crucially, through the use of gender criticism I plan to explore ways in which this normalisation can be subverted, as it is in this subversion, what is often called a heteronormative gap, where change can be brought about to societal understandings of sex and gender. Through engaging with gender critical theories I aim to break the constructed idea of binaries, of shared identities, and intend to challenge the systems that produce them by questioning, displacing, reframing or queering the dominant conceptual paradigms.

What I want to emphasize is that my thesis is not just about looking at how gender norms might have shaped the construction of characters in biblical texts such as the Book of Judges: it is about seeing what importance they might have for situations in the world today where the Bible remains a significant text. It is my belief that this thesis has much to offer, as the Bible is not detached from our culture or our cultural controversies, with the Bible is often used as a regulating discourse, a cultural text of considerable significance and influence.


Musa, Aysha, ‘Reading Solomon J. Solomon's Samson’ FORUM, Issue 23 (December 2016)

Musa, Aysha, ‘Event Review of Orange is the New Bible Symposium’ TrackChanges Issue 9 (July 2016), pp. 130-133.

Musa, Aysha, ‘Book Review of Sherry Lou Macgregor’s Beyond Hearth and Home; Women in the Public Sphere in Neo-Assyrian Society’ Palestine Exploration Quarterly Volume 147, Issue 3 (September, 2015), pp. 256-260.


2016 Graduate TA for REL102: Understanding the New Testament (Religion, Theology and the Bible; Department of Philosophy)

2016 Invited Lecture for REL276 Gender, Religion and the Bible, “The Bible and Rape Culture” (Religion, Theology and the Bible; Department of Philosophy)

2016 Graduate Teaching Assistant for REL128 The Bible: Sacred Texts & Imperial Contexts (Religion, Theology and the Bible; Department of Philosophy)


2017 Forthcoming: ‘Judith’s beauty’, Sexuality and Gender Roles 7th Annual Conference (University of Birmingham)

2017 Jezebel; the monster behind the myth’, Inspiration for Life 24 Hour Lecture Series (University of Sheffield)

2017 ‘Banksy and Biblical Literacy’, Discover Arts and Humanities (University of Sheffield)

2016 ‘Judith: A Beautiful Assassin’, Practices and Performances of Beauty and their Professionalization International Colloquium collaboration between the University of Sheffield, the University of Amsterdam, and the University of York (University of Sheffield)

2016 ‘Beauty in the Bible’, Gender History Discussion Group (University of Sheffield)

2016 ‘Constructions of Judith’s Gender and Sexuality: Beauty as Her Ultimate Weapon’, SIIBS Research Seminar (University of Sheffield)

2016 ‘Perspectives on Migrants in the Bible: Jael and Heber’, Discover Arts and Humanities Summer School (University of Sheffield)

2016 Judith, biblical beauty, God’s assassin, SIIBS Seminar (The University of Sheffield)


2017 Editorial team of WRoCAH Journal (White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities, Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York)

2016-2017 Publicity Team Leader for 24 Hour Inspire Charity Lecture Series

2016-2017 Editorial team of ROUTE 57 (Poetry, Fiction, Drama, Non-Fiction, Experimental Journal, University of Sheffield)

2016-2017 Co-general Editor of TrackChanges, the Arts and Humanities Postgraduate Journal (University of Sheffield)

2016-2017 AQA Religious Studies Examiner

2016-2017 Coordinator of the Sheffield Gender History Discussion Group (Funded by the Arts and Humanities Postgraduate Research Forum)

2016-2017 Coordinator and Inclusions Officer for the University of Sheffield’s Dead Languages Society and Associated reading groups.

2016 Co-founder for the University of Sheffield’s Dead Languages Society and Associated reading groups.


2016 Arts and Humanities Post Graduate Forum, University of Sheffield (£200) for the Postgraduate Journal for Arts and Humanities

2016 Arts and Humanities Post Graduate Forum, University of Sheffield (£125) for the Gender History Discussion Group

2015 PhD Scholarship, University of Sheffield SIIBS Network Scholarship Award (£45,000 plus fees)

2014 Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award

2013 MA Scholarship, University of Sheffield Benefactor’s Scholarship (£5,000)

2013 Sheffield Graduate Award

2012 Academic Award (University of Sheffield)