"Caroline Seymour-Jorn’s clearly written, highly accessible, and deeply thoughtful study successfully blends an anthropological approach to literary creation with close attention to linguistic patterns and rhetorical structures in the fiction of five leading writers who emerged in 1970s Egypt."—Marilyn Booth, University of Edinburgh
"Seymour-Jorn’s work is distinguished by its fluent and insightful knowledge of the Cairene literary scene and the role of women writers in that scene."—Mary Layoun, author of Wedded to the Land? Gender, Boundaries, and Nationalism in Crisis
The five iinfluential women writers discussed in Seymour-Jorn’s timely work—Salwa Bakr, Nemat el-Behairy, Radwa Ashour, Etidal Osman, and Ibtihal Salem—all emerged on the literary scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They came of age at a time when women’s writing was attracting critical attention and more venues for publication were opening up. This widening platform enabled these writers to develop and mature as cultural critics, resulting in the creation of a successful blend of politically and socially committed literature with artistically innovative literary techniques.
Artfully combining literary analysis with ethnographic research, Seymour-Jorn explores the ways in which these writers generate new patterns of thinking and talking about women, society, and social change. She describes how the writers conceive of their role as authors, particularly as female authors, and how they refigure the Arabic language to express themselves as women. By examining these authors’ works and lives, Seymour-Jorn illuminates the extent to which writing brings women into the public sphere, an arena in which they have traditionally had limited access to positions of power and authority.
Caroline Seymour-Jorn is associate professor of comparative literature at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. Her articles have been published in Critique: Journal for Critical Studies of the Middle East, the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, and the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs.
6 x 9, 224 pages