Chapter

May Our Daughters Listen: <i>Readers, Writers, Teachers</i>

Marilyn Booth

in May Her Likes Be Multiplied

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2001 | ISBN: 9780520224193
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520925212 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520224193.003.0004
May Our Daughters Listen: Readers, Writers, Teachers

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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

Chapter.  27165 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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