Women and Literature: A Feminist Reading of Kurdish Women’s Poetry
Hassan, Saman Salah
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
To enable publication of the research
This research work is a detailed feminist reading of the poetry of a selected group of Kurdish women poets which has been written in Sorani Kurdish. The poets come from two different locations, but are originally from Iraqi Kurdistan. A group of them live in the diaspora and the rest are home-based. Thus, it is the study of the Sorani-written poetry produced by Kurdish women poets locally and externally. The study chooses the time extending from 1990 to 2009 as its scope. There are clear reasons for the selection of this time as it stands for the most hectic period when Kurdish women’s poetry flourishes at a fast pace in southern Kurdistan. The study argues that the liberation of southern Kurdistan in 1991 from the overthrown Iraqi Ba’th regime plays a vital role in the productive reemergence of Kurdish women’s poetry after decades of silence and suppression being inflicted by the male-dominated Kurdish literature. Reliance on Anglo-American feminist criticism, Showalter’s gynocritics and some limited theories about the relation between gender and nationalism for the thematic analysis of the poetry of Kurdish women poets is another influential aspect of this study. The study justifies the importance of these theories for giving Kurdish women’s poetry the literary and social value it deserves and placing it within the larger repertoire of Kurdish literature. It is these theories that reveal the misjudgment and misapprehension of Kurdish women’s poetry by Kurdish male critics. Meanwhile, an extensive thematic analysis of the poetry of diasporic and home Kurdish women poets forms the core content of this work. The work studies the poetic texts of seventeen Kurdish women poets, seven from the diaspora, and ten from home. The themes to be focused on significantly represent the life realities of Kurdish women and the attitudes of Kurdish society towards their rights and existence. Through the exposition of the themes, this study aims to present a realistic picture of Kurdish women and urge for actions required to guarantee gender justice in southern Kurdistan. The themes symbolise a long-term war waged jointly by Kurdish women poets at home and in exile against the classic Kurdish patriarchy and its misogynistic laws. They reflect the injustice committed against women in a century when the respect of women’s rights have taken big steps forward elsewhere and should theoretically be ensured. The conclusion the study reaches is an emphasis on the overall condition of Kurdish women’s poetry and the challenges lying ahead of it. It indicates the level of progress Kurdish women’s poetry has made in southern Kurdistan and the role feminist criticism in unison with certain gender theories that criticise the link between women and nation can play in further developing this type of poetry. Moreover, a rather detailed comparison between the thematic structure and form of the poetry of diasporic and home Kurdish women poets is what enriches the conclusion. The influence of exile on diasporic Kurdish women poets and its relation to freedom of expression is also underlined and measured against opposite conditions back at home. Finally, the point where the poets of the two different localities converge is not omitted.
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