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News Release

September 20, 2004

Arab Women's Rights Advocate
Nawal El Saadawi to Lecture at Smith

NORTHAMPTON – Egyptian novelist, psychiatrist and political activist Nawal El Saadawi, whose literary and political work on behalf of women’s rights has received international attention, will deliver three public lectures at Smith College.

The lectures, Sept. 29, Oct. 6 and 20, commemorate her term as Smith’s Neilson Professor of Comparative Literature. The first and final lectures will be held in the Weinstein Auditorium in Wright Hall; the Oct. 6 lecture will be in the Neilson Library Browsing Room. All begin at 7:30 p.m., and are free and open to the public.

El Saadawi has authored ten novels, seven short story collections, several plays, memoirs and nonfiction studies of women in Arab society. Her writings have been translated into more than 30 languages and garnered awards in Cairo, Paris, and Australia.

Yet her work has stirred controversy as often as it has been celebrated. Her most famous book, “The Hidden Face of Eve,” covered a host of topics relative to Arab women such as aggression against female children and female genital mutilation, prostitution, sexual relationships, marriage and divorce, and Islamic fundamentalism. Earlier this year, a leading Muslim institute in Egypt urged the government to ban one of her novels, saying it violates Islam.

In 1981, El Saadawi was imprisoned by the regime of Anwar Sadat, an experience she related in “Memoirs from a Women’s Prison.” She was released one month after Sadat’s assassination, and, in the early 90s, El Saadawi left Egypt to teach at a number of American universities.

Her lectures at Smith College will cover the following topics: “Politics, Women and Democracy,” Sept. 29; “Women, Creativity and Dissidence,” Oct. 6; “Writing and Breaking Down Barriers,” Oct. 20. The Neilson Professorship is sponsored by the Program in Comparative Literature.

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Kristen Cole
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