Dissertations and Theses @ UNI

Exploring the rhetorical constitution of a safe space for women in Begum Rokeya and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper's works

Rifat Rezowana Siddiqui, University of Northern Iowa


This thesis studies the literary texts of two womanist authors, Begum Rokeya and Frances E. W. Harper, who are from different cultural and geographical background. The thesis explores the texts of Rokeya and Harper and attempts to uncover how both authors envision feminist utopian safe space for women of their society. Being the representative from the global south, Rokeya elaborates on 19th century social customs such as purdah, zenana and so on to demonstrate sex segregation in her society. Harper on the other hand, illustrates the social crisis of slavery, and racism through her work. Criticizing the social norms that create obstacle for a certain race or gender, both the authors assert on the necessity to have a safe utopian space where marginalized people will be safe. Though both authors have diverse cultural values, their vision of a safe space for their people is somehow analogous. Rokeya envisions a feminist utopian space for her fellow women whereas Harper dreams of an inclusive safe space where men and women of African American heritage will enjoy equal rights as any other races in their society. Considering education as a significant element of the development of their society, both authors envision a place where their peers will be safe from coercion.