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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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Famous Wombs and Women’s Memories: Gender, Nation, and Life Writing in Today’s Egypt

Famous Wombs and Women’s Memories: Gender, Nation, and Life Writing in Today’s Egypt

Chapter:
(p.281) 8 Famous Wombs and Women’s Memories: Gender, Nation, and Life Writing in Today’s Egypt
Source:
May Her Likes Be Multiplied
Author(s):

Marilyn Booth

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520224193.003.0008

In the 1980s and 1990s, the production of biographical sketches of “Famous Women” proliferated, shifting mostly from the periodical press back into the form of “collected biography,” especially among privately funded Islamist publishing houses. That so many of today's biographical collections are written by men echoes the medieval practice of writing biographical dictionaries, exclusively a male-authored tradition. This chapter compares fifteen collections of biographies of women published from 1978 to 1995 to parallel texts from early in the century. It focuses on these collections' definitions of exemplarity, biographers' subject choice along axes of ethnicity, nationhood, chronology, and communal identity, and on concepts of the female subject as represented in “Famous Women” biography from each era. The chapter asks how the female subject is positioned with regard to assumptions about domesticity and a “public–private” distinction.

Keywords:   Egypt, publishing, Famous Women, biographies, biographical dictionaries, ethnicity, nationhood, chronology, communal identity, domesticity

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