World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


WOMEN WRITERS: Political Conciousness and Engagement – 2/3 (314) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: THU, 22 / 11.30 am - 1.30 pm

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description:

Chair: Ronak Husni (Heritot-Watt University)

Paper presenter: Ronak Husni (Senior Lecturer in Arabic, Heritot -Watt University), “The Position of Woman in Nazik al-Mala'ika Work”
The Position of woman in Nazik al-Mala'ika's work by Dr. Ronak HusniNazik al-Mala'ika (1923-2007) is generally regarded as an Arab Romantic poet and as a pioneer of the free verse movement in modern Arabic literature. Although she is not perceived as a feminist writer, a close examination of her work shows some preoccupation with gender issues which is reflected in different genres of her literary output. This paper will examine the multitude of ways which Al-Maila'ika deals with the position of woman in Arab society. It will also compare and contrast her dealing with the issue of woman in these genres and examine in which particular genre her feminist leaning prevails and the reasons behind this. In her poetry, the question of gender inequality does not surface often but when it does, it comes across as radical, powerful and well ahead of its time. In contrast, in her literary criticism and in her only collection of short stories, she deals with woman empowerment in a more objective and detached manner.

Paper presenter: Dalal Sarnou (Professor, Oran University), “The Founding "Mothers" of Modern Arab Woman Writings”
This paper is devoted to the presentation of the main founding mothers of this trend of Arab Literature, i.e. those Arab women pioneers in publishing genuine, creative and rebellious novels, poems and short stories. This paper is divided into four sections: pioneers of modern Arab woman writings, feminism by Arab women writers, Arab woman writings and war and Arab women hybridity.

Paper presenter: Fatih Altug (Assistant Professor, Istanbul Sehir University), “Authority, Reading Practices and Femininity in Fatma Aliye Hanim and Ahmet Mithat Efendi's ‘Hayal ve Hakikat’ [Dream and Reality]”
As a prominent and pioneering member of the first generation of modern Ottoman women authors, Fatma Aliye’s literary and cultural works describe and discuss the multifaceted relationality between feminine agency and subjectivization technologies performed by the complex web of Ottomanist, Islamist and modernist discourses. In the beginning of her literary career, her translations and novels did not refer her name, but instead the expressions such as ‘a lady’ or ‘a woman’ substituted for her actual name. The authors of ‘Hayal ve Hakikat’ (1892) was also presented to the literary public as ‘a woman’ and Ahmet Mithat. The male author, Ahmet Mithat was the literary patron of Fatma Aliye and also the author of the book ‘Fatma Aliye or the Birth of an Ottoman Woman Writer’ (1893). ‘Hayal ve Hakikat’, firstly depicted the unrequited love of a girl named Vedad [Love], secondly described the loyalty of the beloved boy named Vefa [Loyalty] not to his love but to his national and professional ideals and then analyzed Vedad’s psychology in scientific and medical terms and stigmatized her love ‘sickness’ as an example of hysteria. While the female author/narrator wrote the story of Vedad in a descriptive style, Vefa narrated Vedad’s love experience judgementally and the fictional Ahmet Mithat in the last chapter reduced Vedad’s existential reality to an object of the medical discourse. It is noteworthy that the last two chapters, which had strong authoritarian tones, were written by male author, Ahmet Mithat. In this paper, I aim to discuss how the authority of the female authorship in Ottoman modernity was constructed, how anonymity of the female author transformed into feminine authorial presence, how the authorial practices of the female and the male author differed from each other. The manifestations of the femininity in the novella, the relation between reading novels and hysteria, the limitations of feminine agency and the death drive, the attempts to reduce feminine alterity to an object determined by both conservatist and modernist subjectivization processes will also be scrutinized. I argue that feminine subjectivity and authorship in fin de siècle Ottoman Empire can be analyzed in terms of Julia Kristeva’s theory of subjectivity and also late Ottoman femininity can be conceptualized as a contested liminality between symbolic and semiotic orders.

Paper presenter: Hülya Yldz (Instructor, Ph.D., Middle East Technical University), “A Forgotten Ottoman Woman Writer, Fatma Aliye Han'm, and Production of Muslim Feminine Ideal”
This paper presents Fatma Aliye Han'm (1862-1936), one of the first Ottoman Muslim woman novelists. Fatma Aliye achieved prominence in the struggle to advance the cause of Ottoman women not only through her art, but also through charity organizations, philanthropic societies, and public speeches. After the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire and the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923, Fatma Aliye was forgotten as a writer, and is still not included in modern Turkish literary canon. Beginning by showing how the political determinants of literary reputation worked against her in the years immediately before and after her death, this article, based on archival research in the Ottoman Turkish archives in Turkey, joins the efforts of a few other scholars to recognize her importance not only in Turkish culture and history, but also in the larger domain of Muslim women's literary history. After putting Fatma Aliye in the context of the perception of Muslim women writers in Ottoman print culture, the paper presents Fatma Aliye's first novel, Muhâdarât (1891-92) as one of the first examples of domestic fiction in Ottoman Turkish in which we can see the modern formation of Muslim female ideals as they were being constructed in progressive elite Ottoman households.