Travels in the Middle East: An Exploration into the Ethnography of Gender and Islam in Istanbul and Egypt

Open Access
Allen, Chelsea Thomas
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Jonathan Eugene Brockopp, Thesis Supervisor
  • Michael James Milligan, Honors Advisor
  • Lady Lucie Duff Gordon
  • Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
  • ethnography
  • gender
  • Islam
This thesis takes an in-depth look at letters from the 18th and 19th centuries, written by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (d.1762) and Lady Lucie Duff Gordon (d.1869). Both women were from the upper classes of London society and they wrote extensively about their experiences as they traveled through Turkey and Egypt. Elizabeth Fernea asserts that Lady Montagu was one of the earliest examples of an ethnographer of Middle Eastern women. I assert, however, that Lady Duff Gordon is the more effective ethnographer of gender and religion for a variety of reasons. Considering social factors of England and Egypt at this time, the letters of Lady Duff Gordon serve as a better example of historical ethnography; her work makes a distinctive contribution to our understanding of Islam and gender in Egypt and the Middle East.