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Identity Crises in Contemporary Saudi Arabian Women’s Writing

Alalami, Sumayyah (2019) Identity Crises in Contemporary Saudi Arabian Women’s Writing. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This thesis explores a range of contemporary novels written by Saudi Arabian women writers. The aim of this thesis is to assess the ways in which these women represent female identities in their writing in relation both to the specific context of contemporary Saudi Arabia where these novels were written and published, and to more universal questions of women’s oppression under patriarchal systems as exposed and debated by feminist critics and theorists. This thesis argues that contemporary Saudi women’s writing is characterized by a search for self and by a series of identity crises. A key reason for these crises is their rejection of existing stereotypes of Saudi women, produced both within and outside of Saudi Arabia, which fail to account for the diversity and complexity of their lived experience. The thesis evaluates the key themes addressed by different female authors from various regions of Saudi Arabia in relation to the notion of identity crisis, female identity and the search for the self by performing a literary analysis of their novels. The position of women in Saudi society, displayed regarding to the changes that occurred since the oil boom in the 1970s, the socio-economic, political and cultural effects that came thereafter particularly, the position of women relating to women's rights. Regarding the Saudi context, the notion of identity crises developed from ‘being caught’, ‘confusion’, ‘reproducing stereotypical views’ and self-Orientalising. Expanded the context of Saudi women writer with the broader Arab women particularly in regards to resistance to patriarchy. The analysis chapters discuss first, the novel Tawq al-Ḥamām (2011, The Doves’ Necklace) by RajāʾʿᾹlim, focusing on the themes of love and male-female relationships. Second, the novel al-Wārifa (2008, The Leafy Tree) by ʾUmayma al-Khamīs, focusing on the theme of motherhood. Third, the novel Lam ʾAʿud ʾAbkī (2003, I No Longer Cry) by Zaynab Ḥafnī focusing on the theme of women’s work in public and private spaces. Finally, the reception of Rajaa al-Sanea’s novel Banāt al-Riyāḍ (2005), which was translated into English as Girls of Riyadh (2007). Although these writers have different styles and readerships, they all attempt to navigate, in different ways, the identities available to women living in Saudi Arabia during a period of significant change. Their responses are varied: while some reproduce traditional versions of female identities such as that of wife and mother (albeit versions of these identities that challenge oppressive, patriarchal models of domestic life), others seek to resist dominant patriarchal interpretations of woman as a wife or mother, or as a weak victim who seeks to be saved.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Saudi Arabian women writers, Female identity, Saudi women's novels, Self-Orientalising, RajāʾʿᾹlim,ʾUmayma al-Khamīs, Zaynab Ḥafnī, Rajaa al-Sanea.
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Languages Cultures and Societies (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Languages Cultures and Societies (Leeds) > Arabic & Middle Eastern Studies (Leeds)
Depositing User: Mrs Sumayyah Alalami
Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2019 11:03
Last Modified: 09 Oct 2019 11:03
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/24868

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