Arab women writers draw on a rich, ancient heritage, which stretches back to civilizations that flourished in the region before the Islamic conquest. Al-Khansa' emerges positively in the culture; others were ostracized and held up as the epitome of wickedness and depravity. In later periods—the 'Abbasid, Umayyad, and Andalusian eras—biographical dictionaries and literary encyclopedias are filled with the names of hundreds of women, including female poets. Arab women's writing has dealt with a diversity of themes addressed in various styles, although historical concerns and an awareness of a double burden remains a basic theme in their writing. Writing women from various Arab countries are growing daily more aware of the exigencies of thoughtful, artistic writing, going beyond pure ideological criteria and fragile, direct moralizing or didacticism.
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