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Title: Rhetorics of belonging : textual nations in Palestinian and Israeli narratives
Author: Bernard, A. L.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2007
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Rhetorics of Belonging considers the construction of the Palestinian and Israeli nations in contemporary narratives by a range of differently geographically and politically positioned Palestinian and Israeli writers, including Edward Said, Mourid Barghouti, Amos Oz, Etgar Keret, Oz Shelach, and Anton Shammas. Drawing on the insights provided by theories of colonial and anticolonial aesthetics, theories of nationalism, and the political and literary history of Palestine/Israel, I pay close attention to the aesthetic and formal strategies each text uses to represent a particular idea of the nation, including the national Bildungsroman, materialist realism, the traditional novel form, narrative fragmentation, and the cyclical narrative structure of the arabesque. The introduction discusses the relationship between nationalism and narrative in the Israeli-Palestinian context. The first two chapters consider texts which espouse a Palestinian nationalist perspective: Said’s Out of Place: A Memoir (1999) and Barghouti’s Ra’aytu Ram Allah (I Saw Ramallah, 1997). These texts are distinguished by their different conceptualisation of the Palestinian nation: while Said imagines Palestinian identity as essentially exilic, in keeping with his self-construction in his memoir, Barghouti’s representation of contemporary life in the West Bank employs a materialist aesthetic which contests Said’s emphasis on displacement. In chapters three and four, I consider the creation and dismantling of the idea of the Israeli nation in the work of Oz, Keret, and the English –language writer Shelach. While Oz’s novels Menuchah nechonah (A Perfect Peace, 1982) and Al tagidi Iaila (Don’t Call It Night, 1994) attempt to consolidate an exclusively Jewish Israeli space, Keret and Shelach’s short story collections The Nimrod Flip-Out (2003) and Picnic Grounds: A Novel in Fragments (2005) use fragmentary narrative as a means of replacing Zionist unity with an incoherent Israeli present. Finally, I discuss Shammas’ novel, Arabesqot (Arabesques, 1986) in which Shammas, a Palestinian born an Israeli citizen, juxtaposes oppositional narratives of various types: fictional and historical, oral and written, and “Palestinian” and “Israeli”. His strategy suggests that just as he can marry seemingly contradictory narratives to make a unified whole, so too may the various competing narratives of the history of Palestine/Israel be brought together to create a multifaceted sense of an Israeli national identity. Throughout the thesis, I emphasise the interrelationship of the political and aesthetic expectations to which these texts are responding, as well as the overwhelming influence of the national idea in Israeli and Palestinian cultural production.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available