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Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies

Women and the 19th-century Emergence of the Arabic Novel: Female Authors, Feminine Characters, Feminist Narratives


Prof. Marilyn Booth (University of Oxford)

Date and Time

November 29, 2017, 6 pm - 8 pm


University of Zurich, RAA G 15, Rämistrasse 59, 8001 Zürich


Women's engagement in producing in the early Arabic novel was not just about authoring texts or reading them. In Arab capitals as elsewhere in the world, the novel emerged as part of an ongoing process of socio-political transformation, particularly changing configurations of male-female social relations and new ideas about masculinity and femininity. Early Arabic novels reflected the fact that gender politics were central to debates on modernity, political freedom, sociality and nation formation amongst an expanding Arab intelligentsia. This lecture discusses the shared themes and narrative strategies of novels authored by Arab women between 1888 and 1909 in the cultural hubs of nineteenth-century Arab life: Beirut, Cairo, Alexandria, and New York. In the process, it touches on issuees of audience; linkages between fiction and issues of gendered behavior, education and who should read; perceived links between morality, reading, and behavior; and the creation of female readerships.


Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies - Department of Islamic Studies

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