Discourse on Gender/Gendered Discourse in the Middle East

Publication Year



Boaz Shoshan, Ph.D. 1978

In this book, Shoshan asserts that in contemporary Middle Eastern countries the field of struggle that cultures constitute provides the ground for contesting and transforming the hegemonic patriarchal discourse and recently began to give voice, especially in women's literature, to feminist critique. Examining the gender issue as reflected in a variety of discourses that take place in contemporary Middle Eastern cultures, the contributors explore how feminine images are constructed in tradition-bound societies and in the context of nationalist projects. Both Islamic societies in Middle Eastern countries and the Jewish society in Israel are addressed in the discussion of the role of women's writing and other means of expression in challenging traditional-patriarchal concepts, including nationalism. While the conclusion about the manipulation that patriarchal discourse performs on women's images supports the available scholarship, the emphasis in this volume on the specific expressions of feminine discourse will be a welcome addition to the existing literature.

The essays in volume range from a discussion of the poetic strategies used to reconcile the roles of women to the shifts in the image of the Turkish woman as expressed in popular historical writing. Some of the essays examine the rituals that gather women together as well as the maternal role women play in the national-religious community. Combining the two, usually separately discussed, cultural notions of discourse and gender, this unique collection of articles addresses them in their various forms in both Islamic societies and the State of Israel.

Table of Contents


Introduction by Boaz Shoshan

The Politics and Poetics of Sex-Segregation in Persian Romances by Farzanch Milani

Turkish Men - Ottoman Women: Turkish Historians in the 1950s on Ottoman Women by Ruth Barzilai-Lumbroso

Gendered Islam and Female Preachers in Contemporary Iran by Zahra Kamalkhani

Between Joy and Enslavement: Negotiations of Motherhood among Women Students, their Teachers and the Text by Tamar El-Or

Fadwa Tuqan's Autobiography: Restructuring a Personal History into the Palestinian National Narrative by Mira Tzoreff

Nation's Place and Others' Places: Zelda's Old House and Dead Bird by Hamutal Tsamir

No Home at Home: Women's Fiction vs. Zionist Practice by Yaffah Berlovitz

Stranger at Home: The Discourse of Identity in Ronit Matalon's The One Facing Us by Lily Rattok


“[E]xcellent self contained readings for undergraduate courses.”—Middle East Studies Association Bulletin

“[T]he contributors provide useful insight to anyone intereseted in the study of women in the Middle East, particularly women from non-Arabic speaking societies.”—Arab Studies Journal

Westport, CT and London