The Labyrinth of Enclosures and Concealment in the Novels of Two Arab Women Writers: ‘Your Gazes Behind Which to Hide Myself’

By Maggie Awadalla.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Women’s writing in the Arab world has embarked on reclaiming its public space. Issues of the deterritorialisation of its literary language and its embarkment on the reordering and consequently the reclaiming the public and private space predominate its pages. The novels of Ahdaf Soueif (Egypt), Hanan al-Shaykh (Lebanon) will be analysed to explore how they use concepts of gender and confinement to examine the possibilities of reclaiming both public and private space. The paper will also examine how images of enclosure and concealment are expressed in terms of issues posed by Deleuze and Guattari in their book Kafka: Toward A Minor Literature, which discusses how minority literatures attempt to deterritorialise and consequently reterritorialise the literary text. Even though not all women’s writing should be automatically categorised as a minor literature, it is my belief that these authors could be positioned within a context of minority discourse due to the manner in which they position themselves within a marginalised context both in terms of the textual dimension and through their use of language, form and characterisation all of which effectively contribute to the decentering of the literary constructions from which they are writing. In addition, the authors themselves have in many aspects imposed upon themselves a certain amount of distancing—and even exile—from the countries they are writing about rendering a reading of their work as an attempt to reclaim the geographical space from which they write.

Keywords: Public and Private Space, Minor Literature, Veiling and Unveiling, Language

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 9, pp.49-54. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 505.004KB).

Dr. Maggie Awadalla

Coordinator of Arabic, Humanities Programme, Imperial College London, London, UK

Dr. Maggie Awadalla is currently the Coordinator of Arabic at The Imperial College London. She also teaches at The University of Kent. She has extensive publications in international academic journals relating to the field of Arabic literature and culture. Her research interests are in the field of women’s writing in the Arab world.

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