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Title: The reception of Arab women writers in the West
Author: Al-Ayoubi, Amal
ISNI:       0000 0001 3405 0709
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2006
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This thesis explores the reception in the Anglophone West of the works of three Arab women writers Nawel el-Saadawi, Hanan al-Shaykh and Sahar Khalifa. The principal methodological tools are drawn from cultural theories of translation, methods that go beyond a narrow technical focus on accuracy and commensurability in translation. The focus is therefore not on textual analysis, but on (1) political events such as the Iranian revolution of 1979, (2) forms of expertise such as academics, critics, reviewers and translators, and (3) ideological trends, primarily Orientalism and feminism, which all affect the success or failure of reception of a translated text in the host culture. The thesis finds that both forms of expertise and political events play important roles in forging a horizon of expectation, primarily among readerships respecting the content of works which are deemed to be interesting. The principal aim of the thesis, however, is to subject the conventional wisdom, which heavily stresses the overwhelming importance of Orientalism in the reception of female Arab writers in the West, to serious scrutiny. To this end, the oeuvre (mostly fiction) of three prominent writers whose reception has been marked by controversies over Orientalism and feminism was chosen. The goal is not to replace the 'Orientalism' thesis with a simplistic feminism thesis: The present argument accepts that Orientalism has played an important role in the reception of the three writers, although in fractured and varied ways. However, I also argue that feminism has played an important and increasing role in literary reception, particularly in the case of Nawal el-Saadawi. The idea is that feminist expectations and concerns, in conjunction with political events, create a 'knowledge vacuum' among readerships which is then filled by particular, relevant texts. In other words, it is inadequate to shoehorn all forms of Western reception into a vague and hydra-like category of Orientalism. However, the argument does not lionize the feminist movement: I show how feminism is marked on the one hand by Orientalism -a standard claim - but also how feminism itself is limited by its concern for gender on the one hand, and forins of political conservatism on the other, especially on controversial issues in Middle East politics, such as Israel / Palestine. I show this last point particularly through my exploration of the reception of the work of Sahar Khalifa. In a broader sense, the thesis aims to indicate how cultural interaction between 'West' and 'East' is more complicated than monolithic and essentialist analyses would have us believe. The idea is to bolster readings of Edward Said which do not fall into this trap. Ultimately, such a reading points beyond the notion of nativism on the one side, and Eurocentrism on the other.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available