This thesis adopts a transnational and postcolonial feminist approach in exploring Arab American women’s literature. In particular, I focus on the Jordanian-Palestinian American novel, West of the Jordan by Laila Halaby, and the Syrian American novel, The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf by Mohja Kahf. In each chapter I examine the hyphenated identities of these novels’ protagonists, Hala, Soraya, Khadija, and Khadra. In so doing, I argue that each character grapples with her identity mainly as a result of her Arab relatives’ and American peers’ fixed notions of cultural, national, and religious identities. Ultimately, my analysis traces the protagonists’ various forms of resistance to the overly narrow definitions of “Arabness” and “Americanness” each must confront. Moreover, by contesting essentialist notions of “Arabness,” I argue that both authors shed light on the diversity of Arabs and Muslims – two terms that, more often than not, have been conflated and reduced to a singular monolithic group in Eurocentric discourses. I locate my analysis within current geopolitical struggles such as the Palestinian Israeli conflict and the 9/11 attacks. Further, I place these novels within the genealogy of literature written by immigrants of Arab descent in the US.
|Commitee:||Lopez, Dennis, Zitzer-Comfort, Carol|
|School:||California State University, Long Beach|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||MAI 56/03M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||American literature, Ethnic studies|
|Keywords:||Arab American, Ethnicity, Feminism, Identity, Islam, Race|
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