A pharaoh and multiple deities: Writing the female self in Arab drama series | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 10, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 1740-8296
  • E-ISSN: 2040-0918



This article examines the referential aesthetics of constructing the self by some prominent actresses in Egyptian television drama series (musalsal). More specifically, it explores how the self is mediated through the roles these actresses assume, the doubling back of the role on the self and the final conflation between the two. Oscillating between the self as a spectacle (a fetishized object of visual pleasure) and the self as transgressor (the female as a monster or femme fatale), these constellations of selfhood should prompt us to query whether it is at all possible to conceive of an Egyptian female role not rooted in a patriarchal symbolic order or an androcentric fantasy. What these Egyptian actresses dramatically/visually seem to be demanding is to be seen and perceived as the same as the roles they are playing, a coherent self that both underlies/defines and unifies the role with the actress playing it. This article will demonstrate that such conflations have often led to disempowered gender formulations on the screen in the case of Egyptian drama series. Conversely, the absence of the cult of the superstar actress/actor in Syrian drama has allowed for more positive portrayals of women, not necessarily by banishing the female as a spectacle or transgressor, but by problematizing those elements within the textual politics of the script.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): Arab drama; discourses; Egyptian; female self; superstar; Syrian
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