ARIC 3197-01, Selected Themes & Topics in Arabic Literature in Translation: "Arab Women Autobiographies and Film"

 

Dr. Nehal El-Naggar

nina13@aucegypt.edu

WU 02:00 pm-03:15 pm

This course attempts to investigate texts written by Arab women writers belonging to different parts of the Arab world, and undergoing different cultural conditions, hence rendering different readings of the world they are experiencing. Different questions are thus posed: Does a woman write differently, and about different things, then a man? When these women write about the "self", is it true that a woman writes about "private" and "domestic" matters while a man is more interested in "public" and "political" issues? What is meant by "private" and "public"? Is it appropriate to define a text according to the gender of its author? How do women express themselves across cultures? Hence, this course will explore the representation of female subjectivity and the construction of identity in a selection of autobiographical texts by Arab women writers. Many recent critical theories are offering different interpretations of such texts. Moreover, it is incorrect to rely on just one theory. This is because the question of Arab women identity

is multilayered. It is more adequate to read these texts bearing in mind the whole body of literary theory ranging from feminism, post-colonialism, Marxism, deconstruction, and others. However, it is again insufficient to limit the reading of these texts in the light of these theories alone, ignoring other factors essential to the question of identity construction such as national consciousness, religious beliefs, family bonds, ways of upbringing, and cultural background with all its paraphernalia. Hence, the course raises a number of other questions: are these women writing from within any kind of tradition, whether indigenous or influenced by writing from other parts of the world? To what extent are they writing about themselves? What difference is there between writing explicit autobiography, semi-fictional narrative, and fiction?