Womens Autobiography in Islamic Societies

The Ultimate Unveiling?

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This international research network, sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK) and based at Loughborough University, brings together a core group of eighteen scholars completing individual research on women’s autobiography in North Africa, the Middle East and Asia.  Intended to foster an interdisciplinary and comparative approach, it draws parallels across the geographical and temporal spread of the Islamic world.  At the heart of the network’s discussions is the question of whether writing one’s own life in a cultural context that idealises women’s public anonymity represents a dramatic revelation of the female self: ‘the ultimate unveiling’.  It also seeks to ask questions fundamental to literary and gender theory such as: what is autobiography?  Who writes, when, why, how and for whom?  Can women’s life writing be distinguished from that of male authors?  What are the specific themes and sub-themes of women’s autobiographical narratives?  And what do they tell us about representation and identity in Islamic societies from the sixteenth century to the present?