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Early women's press: a challenge for 19th century East and Greece

by Sirmoula Alexandridou

This paper interrogates the challenge the publication of maganizes for women and by women represents for the male public discourse during the second half of the 19th century.The publication of three female literary magazines Kipseli (Instanbul,1845), Thalia (Athens,1867), and Evridiki (Instabul,1870)will not only mark indelibly the broader area of Hellenism but it will immensely contribute to the emergence of a female consciousness and identity.
My presentation focuses mainly on Kipseli, a Female Journal,published by Efrosini Samartzidou in Instabul (May 1845). Given the conditions of the 19th century, Kipseli constitutes not only an early but an equally bold venture; Samartzidou considered that conditions were favorable in the East since both the Sultan himself and his mother were supportive of the enlightenment. Influenced by the European and Neo-hellenic Enlightenment, Samartzidou delineats the terrible intellectual condition of womenhood and she proposes not only the general enlightenment of all women but also the knowledge of a practical trade so as to make their own living,thus overcoming the ideological and social barriers of her times. Similar aims will be expressed by the other two magazines in an era when the establishment of Girls' schools becomes all more frequent. Issues such as the formation of a literary canon within these female magazines; how women define their identity; how their publication within the nation's borders serves the ideological and national vision of women as a mother and as a wife fall within our investigations as well.
The paper concludes that the anxiety to conserve Greekness and secure national identity, a common characteristic of all three magazines, as well as the use of purist Greek as the only language that could ensure continuity with the past and the ancient Greek language appears to suffocatingly embrace such a dynamic emergence of the female press.

AsK, September 2012

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