Veiled Figures: Women, Modernity, and the Spectres of Orientalism

By Teresa Heffernan

© 2016

Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, public debates about Islam and the veil have become increasingly divisive. Yet few acknowledge that this fascination with veiling goes back more than three centuries.

In Veiled Figures, Teresa Heffernan explores how the clash of civilizations is perpetuated by the rhetoric of veiling and unveiling. Drawing on travel narratives, harem literature, and other stories, Heffernan argues that women’s bodies have been used to exacerbate the divide between religion and reason in the eighteenth century, the Islamic umma and the Western nation in the nineteenth, and Islamism and global capitalism in the contemporary period.

Through the study of the writings of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Anna Bowman Dodd, Demetra Vaka Brown, Zeyneb Hanoum, and others, Heffernan’s book demonstrates the ways in which these works complicate and interrupt these divides, opening up new opportunities for a more constructive dialogue between East and West.

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Product Details

  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 240 pages
  • Illustrations: 8
  • Dimensions: 6.3in x 0.8in x 9.3in
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SKU# SP004180

  • PUBLISHED APR 2016

    From: $42.00

    Regular Price: $56.00

    ISBN 9781442637238
  • PUBLISHED MAY 2016

    From: $42.00

    Regular Price: $56.00

Quick Overview

In Veiled Figures, Teresa Heffernan explores how the clash of civilizations is perpetuated by the rhetoric of veiling and unveiling.

Veiled Figures: Women, Modernity, and the Spectres of Orientalism

By Teresa Heffernan

© 2016

Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, public debates about Islam and the veil have become increasingly divisive. Yet few acknowledge that this fascination with veiling goes back more than three centuries.

In Veiled Figures, Teresa Heffernan explores how the clash of civilizations is perpetuated by the rhetoric of veiling and unveiling. Drawing on travel narratives, harem literature, and other stories, Heffernan argues that women’s bodies have been used to exacerbate the divide between religion and reason in the eighteenth century, the Islamic umma and the Western nation in the nineteenth, and Islamism and global capitalism in the contemporary period.

Through the study of the writings of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Anna Bowman Dodd, Demetra Vaka Brown, Zeyneb Hanoum, and others, Heffernan’s book demonstrates the ways in which these works complicate and interrupt these divides, opening up new opportunities for a more constructive dialogue between East and West.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 240 pages
  • Illustrations: 8
  • Dimensions: 6.3in x 0.8in x 9.3in
  • Reviews

    Veiled Figures is a compelling work that presents an original and well-documented argument by a scholar well versed in the field of women’s and gender studies in Middle Eastern studies.


    Roberta Micallef
    Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature vol 36:02:2017

    "Teresa Heffernan’s timely and powerful Veiled Figures: Women, Modernity, and the Spectres of Orientalism is a significant entry into the discussions that have ensued from Edward Said’s 1978 Orientalism… In framing the (un)veiled woman in historical, global debates, interrogating voices of compliance and resistance, and documenting the troubling new iterations of this trope in the present day, Heffernan follows Said’s model in crossing disciplinary boundaries and revealing cross-cultural dialogues."


    Carolyn McCue Gofman, Depaul University
    University of Toronto Quarterly, vol 87 3, Summer 2018

    Veiled Figures is an important read for those who seek examinations of the veil’s role in the contemporary context that present a hopeful alternative to the common narrative.’


    Georgia Carter
    Journal of Religion and Culture vol 27:01:2017

    "Teresa Heffernan is very judicious in her analysis and offers multiple voices of women travellers in the Middle East. This work is an important addition to the literature on the east/west divide"


    Virginia Aksan, Professor of History, McMaster University
  • Author Information

    Teresa Heffernan is a professor in the Department of English at St. Mary’s University.
  • Table of contents

    Introduction
    1. Islam, Secularism, and the Veil
    2. The Great Whore of Babylon: Cosmopolitanism and Racialized Nationalism
    3. Two Western Women Venture East: Lady Annie Brassey and Anna Bowman Dodd
    4. The Great War and its Aftermath: Militarized Citizens, (Un)Veiled Bodies, and the Nation
    5. The Burqa and the Bikini: Veiling and Unveiling at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
    Conclusion: The Legacy of Orientalism

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