Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

"An Unknown Lover's Discourse" Reading "Letter from an Unknown Woman"
by Merzaban, Amanda, M.A., The American University of Paris (France), 2015, 110; 10305710
Abstract (Summary)

An Unknown Lover’s Discourse investigates the singular act of reading and how subjectivity shapes research and inquiry. Based on the author’s 2011 encounter with a 1962 Egyptian musical film called Letter from an Unknown Woman, the thesis follows a series of subjective encounters with various other works of film and literature of the same name over the course of four years. The different iterations depict a story of a man who receives a letter from a woman proclaiming her unrequited love for him; a woman he has difficulty remembering. The thesis delves into the different modes of interactions the author has had with these different iterations as prompts for research into Letter from an Unknown Woman to formulate questions that observe and analyse the works of art through affective experience. These experiences include various activities of reading such as Arabic-English translation as a receptive bilingual, repetitive watching and remixing of the films as a way of investigating the different audio, visual and literary features of the Letter from an Unknown Woman stories. The analysis also inspects the different ways these objects are circulated, found and read today by looking at how online platforms like YouTube have transformed ways of viewing; creating an active audience of producers who respond in the form of new and remixed material shared online. The thesis is also guided by selection of theoretical texts that privilege affective experience. These include French philosopher Roland Barthes’ seminal work exploring the of love in A Lover’s Discourse, for which the thesis takes some of its compositional features and Camera Lucida, Barthes’ inquiry into the essence of photography through affect. The third theoretical strand inspects affective experience as a performative act by examining the art of tarab. An Arabic term often translated as “enchantment,” tarab is associated with Arabic musical traditions that induce an ecstatic experience between the performer and listener.

Key words: Translation; Love; Barthes; Tarab; Egyptian Cinema

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Briggs, Kate
Commitee: Gilbert, Geoffrey
School: The American University of Paris (France)
Department: Cultural Translation
School Location: France
Source: MAI 56/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Comparative literature, Fine arts, Music, Film studies
Keywords: Abouseif, Salah, Affective experience, Arabic, Egypt, Letter from an Unknown Woman, Tarab, Translation
Publication Number: 10305710
ISBN: 978-1-369-49274-3
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