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Title: From immigrant narratives to ethnic literature : the contemporary fiction of Arab British and Arab American women writers
Author: Maloul, Linda Fawzi
ISNI:       0000 0004 5366 5807
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2014
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The purpose of this thesis is to firmly situate the fictions of contemporary Arab British and Arab American women writers who write in English within the corpus of ethnic and mainstream literary criticism. I aim to position these fictions within their historical and sociopolitical contexts. I also aim to shift the focus from the texts’ female protagonists to male and minor characters in order to explore how the writers construct both political Islam and Islam as a private faith; how they construct Palestinian Muslim masculinities; and how they respond to the events of 9/11 and the ensuing war on terror. I argue that these fictions offer some of the most astute reactions to the events of 9/11 and their repercussions. I also argue that Arab American literature in general and Arab American women’s literature in particular is more canny than its Arab British counterpart. Thus, I aim to show how Arab American literary productions refract a development from the literature of self-exploration to that of transformation allowing them a well-deserved spot in Ethnic-American literary studies and in time, mainstream American literary studies. Another of my aims is to investigate how Arab American and Arab British writers highlight the diversity of Arabs, Muslims and Islam, thus addressing essentialist reductions of Arabs and Muslims as a monolithic group. In chapter one, I investigate how Ahdaf Soueif’s In the Eye of the Sun and Leila Aboulela’s Minaret negotiate issues such as Islamic clothing. I also question anew Arab women writers’ perceived role as “cultural commentators.” In chapter two, I explore how Laila Halaby’s West of the Jordan and Randa Jarrar’s A Map of Home construct Palestinian Muslim masculinities, and how they challenge the Anglo-American stereotypical representations of Arab Muslim masculinity. In chapter three, I analyse how Laila Halaby’s Once in a Promised Land, Frances Khirallah Noble’s The New Belly Dancer of the Galaxy and Alia Yunis’ The Night Counter negotiate cultural, political and social views of America. I aim to examine whether Halaby, Noble and Yunis’ ambiguous position, as legally ‘white’ citizens who are also members of a marginalized and religiously racialized minority, offers them a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between ‘East’ and ‘West.’ In the conclusion, I offer some suggestions for future research.
Supervisor: Valassopoulos, Anastasia; Duncker, Patricia Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Arab American Literature ; Arab British Literature ; Masculinity and Gender Studies ; 9/11 Fiction