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May Her Likes Be MultipliedBiography and Gender Politics in Egypt$
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Marilyn Booth

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780520224193

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520224193.001.0001

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May Our Daughters Listen: Readers, Writers, Teachers

May Our Daughters Listen: Readers, Writers, Teachers

Chapter:
(p.109) 4 May Our Daughters Listen: Readers, Writers, Teachers
Source:
May Her Likes Be Multiplied
Author(s):

Marilyn Booth

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520224193.003.0004

Constructing exemplarity and community, “Famous Women” biographies inscribed both precedents and potential lives for editors and readers, echoes of, or templates for, these women's unwritten autobiographies. Not that Arabic language autobiography was an unwritten genre. Pre-nineteenth-century men had tackled the writing of the self. As time went on—and with “Famous Women” ensconced in women's journals—Egyptian feminists wrote autobiographies, as did entertainers. Women's magazines—and biographies therein—assume and construct an active, female reader. This chapter unpacks discourse on girls' education as biography displayed it, in conjunction with the textual construction of the female reader. It then asks what biography said about gendered (and generation-specific) norms of public behavior as a symbolic field in which social, economic, and political agendas were contested—and which shaped polemics on education. The chapter explores how public politics as a sphere of female action and ambition shaped life narratives, whether biographies and other material in the women's press articulated a feminist politics, and the messages that the many lives of female rulers conveyed.

Keywords:   Famous Women, biographies, readers, autobiographies, women's magazines, education, public behavior, politics, female rulers

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