Realities reflected and refracted : feminism(s) and nationalism(s) in the fiction of Ghādah al‐Sammān and Sah|ar Khalīfah
This thesis examines the literary representations of feminist and nationalist struggles in the Middle East particularly in Lebanon and Palestine. It aims to explore the simultaneous articulation of these two pivotal concerns in contemporary Arabic literature written by Arab women, from the 1960s to the present. One of the primary goals of this thesis is to explore how contemporary feminist literature reflects the effects of national crises in the Middle East on women’s status. To this end, this thesis reads closely a number of the novels of two contemporary Arab women writers: Ghādah al‐Sammān and Sah|ar Khalīfah whose work engages in this literary interrelationship of nationalist and feminist struggles in Lebanon and Palestine, respectively. Through the close analyses of these authors’ novels, this thesis explores how, in their response to the political turmoil in the Middle East, contemporary Arab women writers render reality in creative forms: al‐Sammān cries for freedom by exploiting literary existentialism to reflect the human struggle against the backdrop of the Lebanese civil war, while Khalīfah employs critical realism in her portrayal of the human pain during the Palestinian‐Israeli conflict. This thesis argues that both writers challenge long‐established literary traditions by advancing these themes in new artistic styles: literary existentialism and realism, and, therefore, considers this a manifestation of the avant‐gardism of both writers for they move the writings of Levantine women to a higher level by adding these literary forms to the repertoire of contemporary Arab women’s literature. The contribution of this thesis lies in its investigation of the innovative literary styles of these two authors and their place in the writings of contemporary Arab women. Thus, this thesis aims to remedy the neglect of the writings of these authors by presenting close analyses of some of the works of al‐Sammān and Khalīfah with a view to understanding their use of literary existentialism and critical realism.