Senior Honors Projects, 2020-current

Emancipation through a domestic education: How one magazine inspired a female literary renaissance in the nineteenth-century Middle East

Lauren Palmieri

Abstract

Both in its contemporary journalistic milieu and in recent secondary scholarship, al-Fatah (1892-1894) has been widely recognized as the first Arabic women’s periodical. This magazine has similarly been credited with ushering in the era of the Arabic female press during the late nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries. However, al-Fatah has received little attention as a magazine in and of itself. An analysis of al-Fatah helps to nuance the nahda cultural movement and its literature as more than male-dominated voices and authorship. This thesis explores how al-Fatah laid foundations for a female press by facilitating communication between editors and readers. The magazine helped build a female literary network, and empowered women to stake claims in the public sphere. Though the editors of al-Fatah wished to remain apolitical, and made assertions to this effect, I argue that this magazine was, in fact, extremely political and aimed to advocate for female education and the advancement of women more broadly.