'Many Kinds of Strong Voices': Transnational Encounters and Literary Ambassadorship in the Fiction of Margaret Atwood and Hanan Al-Shaykh
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
I need to publish some chapters in the thesis.
This research began as an attempt to question to what extent a politics of solidarity and the evolution of a ‘transnational feminism’ which travels across borders can be established within Arab and Western literary novels. While this study, in spirit, takes its lead from the call for ‘feminism without borders’ within the writings of two contemporary women writers, the Canadian Margaret Atwood and the Lebanese Hanan Al-Shaykh, it responds to the notion of transnationalism and literary ambassadorship from the perspective of Arab-Western relations. This process raises key questions for the reading of women’s writings across sensitive cultural divides: How can the literary contributions of Margaret Atwood and Hanan Al-Shaykh help in reshaping the form and content of a transnational and cultural interaction between the Arab World and the West? Do women writers articulate their concerns in the same manner across cultures? To what extent can literature cross borders and be fully engaged within diverse women’s concerns? And what might hinder the circulation of a transnational literary interaction? These contemporary women writers have been studied in the belief that their novels are committed to a transnational feminist agenda. Both writers place their feminist concerns within a national framework that they constantly negotiate. However, this comparison to test the value of women’s writings across borders has been challenged by a more complex study of factors that intervene along the way. The politics of reception, the processes of production, circulation, and consumption of the writers’ literary texts, the writers’ own shifting allegiances moving from nationalism to broader multicultural, cosmopolitan and transnational frameworks, are all factors to be taken into account. These factors have a direct impact on the context through which the literary texts have to be studied. Hence, this study seeks to contribute to this task by showing how these writers are engaged in the process of adjusting, reconstructing and even transcending their cultural milieus.
The Applied Science University
PhD in English