Starting with profiles of the female intellectuals who pioneered the women's press in Egypt—the first generation of Arab women to write and publish extensively—Baron traces the women's literary output from production to consumption. She draws on new approaches in cultural history to examine the making of periodicals and to reconstruct their audience, and she suggests that it is impossible to assess the influence of the Arabic press without comprehending the circumstances under which it operated.
Turning to specific issues argued in the pages of the women's press, Baron finds that women's views ranged across a wide spectrum. The debates are set in historical context, with elaborations on the conditions of women's education and work. Together with other sources, the journals show significant changes in the activities of urban middle- and upper-class Egyptian women in the decades before the 1919 revolution and underscore the sense that real improvement in women's lives—the women's awakening—was at hand. Baron's discussion of this extraordinary trove of materials highlights the voices of the female intellectuals who championed this awakening and broadens our understanding of the social and cultural history of the period.