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Title: Arab feminism and the negotiation of gender in contemporary Jordanian novels
Author: Al-Serhan, Amani
ISNI:       0000 0004 5919 3804
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2016
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Since 2000, Jordanian literature has witnessed a rise in the number of novels that address women’s daily struggles with gender discrimination, marking a shift away from literary texts that overtly focus on Palestine. Yet, despite the rise in Jordanian feminist novels, there has been little cross-fertilisation between literary criticism and the perspectives of Arab women’s movements. This thesis attempts to bring these fields together. My main aim is to use the lens of Arab feminism to investigate how perceptions of womanhood and manhood are negotiated in Jordanian novels (2000–2012) written by both women and men. I argue that the political debate about how tradition and modernity can advance women’s status in the Arab world influences the ways in which these novelists shape and re/frame notions of womanhood and manhood. I identify three categories of novels, based on the authors’ strategies for conceptualising and overcoming gender inequality. The first advocates a rebellious stance against patriarchal structures, deploying notions of sexuality, escape or suicide as available solutions. The second calls for a return to tradition, and in particular to Islamic Holy Scriptures as texts that endow women with great value and status, viewing this as an alternative to imitating or adopting forms of western feminism. The final group emphasises the need to dissociate from perceiving tradition as the antithesis of modernity. They attempt to bring together useful aspects of both paradigms in ways that help women combat gender inequality. Thus, through their various techniques, these novels offer insightful depictions of women’s and men’s everyday struggles and promote ideas about gender and feminism in ways that are beneficial for women. I conclude by calling for a stance in line with the third category, a middle way based on acknowledging women’s everyday experiences rather than either advocating an Islamic or pro-West ideology.
Supervisor: Kaloski Naylor, Ann ; El Marsafi, Ziad Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available