Women Travellers in the Middle East

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Jane Digby El Mesrab

The aim of this course is to explore the writings of and lives of a number of women travellers who have made a significant contribution to European images of the people and culture of the Middle East.
During the lectures we will explore the travellers’ biographies, their journeys, the social and political situation from which they came and how they responded to it.
In this series of lectures it is hoped that students will be both entertained by the adventures of the women and gain an insight into their personalities.
The women to be studied will include- Jane Digby El Mesrab (1807-1881) whose marriage to Sheikh El Mesrab shocked Victorian Society; Florence Nightingale(1820-1910) made a little known journey to Egypt where her ideas were challenged; Lady Anne Blunt (1837-1917) who made ground-breaking journeys into Central Arabia; Isabelle Eberhardt (1877-1904), defender of Islam against European colonialism; Gertrude Bell (1868-1926) whose 1914 voyage into uncharted Arabia gained her the position which helped her shape the modern Middle East; and, finally, Freya Stark (1893-1993) whose travels in Iran and Yemen led to the foundation of secret societies.

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