Molli Shomer

Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department or School

English Language and Literature

First Advisor

Elisabeth Daumer


Women, traditionally cloistered in private places, are invisible to the outside world. Yet, writing, which can take form even from within the private sphere, can be a means of resisting silence, rendering one's story visible and demanding entrance into public view. From private places, women have written to free themselves of the constraints of womanhood, and to make their messages heard amongst deafening patriarchal discourse. While writing can be a means of resistance, a mode of speaking back against one's oppressor and impacting change, it can inadvertently reproduce the oppression it seeks to speak back against. Autobiographical writing invites the reader into the author's world of oppression. In granting readers access to experience the author's oppression, to step into it and fight against it alongside the author, autobiographical resistance writing opens up a space which is particularly vulnerable to manipulation. Oppression described in the narrative is easily co-opted by the readership' and used as a weapon to reinscribe varied forms of oppression on the author.

In post 9~11America, as readers are bombarded with imagesof veiled, silenced, oppressed Muslim women by the media, Muslim women's narratives have garnered particular interest amongst Western readers, promising them a peak behind the veil, a glance into the life of the Other. Using Helen Cixous' model of feminine writing, I contend that Assia Djebar's The Tongues Blood Does Not Run Dry reaches toward an effective iteration of Muslim women's autobiographical resistance writing whereas Fatima Mernissi's Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood reproduces Orientalist sentiments.