Caroline Seymour-Jorn
Department of French, Italian and Comparative Literature
End-of-Year Fellowship Report 2007-08

During the year that I spent as a Center Fellow I completed most of the remaining work for my manuscript Cultural Criticism in Egyptian Women’s Writing: Anthropological and Literary Perspectives. This book explores the narrative and other strategies dominant in the short stories and novels of five Cairene women writers whose work began to appear in the 1970s. They are Radwa Ashour (b. 1946), Salwa Bakr (b. 1949), Nemat el-Behairy (b. 1953), Etidal Osman (b. 1942) and Ibtihal Salim (b. 1949). These women are currently active on the Cairene literary scene and are significant because they came of age at a time when women’s writing was attracting increased critical attention and had more venues for publication, particularly in private sector publishing houses. These two factors have contributed to a broader readership both in Egypt and abroad, and have enabled these writers to develop as active cultural critics. The 1970s writers have achieved perhaps more than the generation of the 1990s in what Ferial Ghazoul calls “magical dualism” in writing: the successful fusion of political or socially committed literature with artistically innovative literary techniques. I began my tenure at the Center with two completed chapters, and I completed the remaining five chapters during my fellowship.

Conference Presentations
“Journeys into Memory and Experience: Ibtihal Salem’s A Small Box in the Heart”. Paper presented at the 41st Annual Meeting of the Middle East Studies Association, Montreal, Canada. November 2007.

“Religious and Cultural Confluence in Salwa Bakr’s ‘novel of novels’: al-Bashmouri”. Paper to be presented at the 42nd Annual Meeting of the Middle East Studies Association, Washington, DC. November 2008.

Current department website




Center for 21st Century Studies

Merry Wiesner-Hanks

Center for 21st Century Studies / University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
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  Last updated 11/12/08 by DSC