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Let the Real Scheherazade Stand: Literary Representations of Middle Eastern Women

This thesis considers the multiple and complex ways in which Arab and Middle Eastern women have been conceived in literature written by both Western and Arab male and female authors. It covers almost a millennium of literature, beginning with the eleventh century Crusades which represent the earliest encounters between the West and the East. From there, the discussion moves to examine representations of Middle Eastern women in Western literature and the influences that helped forge that image, such as the biblical stories of Salomé, The Arabian Nights, the Mu’allaquat or the Seven Arabian Poems, Al-Firdausi’s poetic epic, The Shahname, and the travelogues of British explorers who travelled the Middle East. Finally, the thesis turns to the work of Arab authors writing about their own culture and identity. The analysis of this material is structured chronologically and undertaken in three parts. The first part examines historical and contextual material to establish the ways in which Oriental images, narratives and landscape became imbedded in the Western psyche and influenced Western literature and how Near Eastern men and women were imagined. The second stage analyses late nineteenth and early twentieth century British texts which engage directly with or are influenced by Oriental themes and ideas. The third stage considers English translations of Arabic texts written by men and women and their depiction of Arab women, in addition to a comparison between Western views of the East and Arabic perceptions of the West. The discussion concludes with a discussion of diasporic literature written by Arab women which forms a dialogue and a bridge between the two cultures. The diverse range of literary forms discussed in the thesis include: travelogues; epistolary writing; poetry; drama; novel; memoirs; biographies; social criticism; and art. All the material discussed here is available in English with the exception of two or three poems and some critical works.
Type of thesis
Al-Hadban, L. M. N. (2016). Let the Real Scheherazade Stand: Literary Representations of Middle Eastern Women (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10289/10628
University of Waikato
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