Mayda (1883), Serpouhi Dussap’s first eponymous novel, quickly met the patriarchal reaction among the Armenian male intelligentsia of Constantinople over the issue of female emancipation. Today the significance of Dussap’s best-known novel and feminist ideology is both welcome and appreciated yet not with much gratifying analysis of the literary and intellectual ventures invested in this first-time production. This article seeks to place this literary event among the feminist literature scholarship of the nineteenth century. For this initial venture to bring recognition to Armenian feminist literature, the present study introduces the general literary scene in the Ottoman Armenian community in the late nineteenth century, then outlines the critical detraction leveled against the novel, only to produce a new reading that reflects the feminist literary strategy of the time, namely, the palimpsestic mode of writing. Finally, the reading suggested in this article is linked to another underrated work, the mythical tale of Arachne. Reworking Nancy K. Miller’s theory of “Arachnologies” into the context of Armenian women’s literature, the analysis of Arachne’s tale is the “mytheme,” the foundational unit, so to speak, that encapsulates the feminist literary ideology of nineteenth-century Armenian women’s literature.

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