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From the Individual to the Collective in the Writings of Radwa Ashour and Ahdaf Soueif

Al Sahib, May (2019) From the Individual to the Collective in the Writings of Radwa Ashour and Ahdaf Soueif. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (KAR id:73409)

Language: English
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The past forty years of Egypt's history have been characterized by political oppression, deterioration of social structure and waves of uprisings in what could be considered an era of competing visions of Egyptian self-governance. This situation has prompted a number of writers of Jil el-thawra (the generation of the revolution) of 1952 to advocate for a collective outlook to combat national uncertainty. A great number of the writers of this generation have also lived through the 2011 revolution. Amongst these writers are Radwa Ashour and Ahdaf Soueif, who in their works construct a counter-narrative of Egyptian political hegemony that this thesis will bring to bear on Ayman El-Desouky's explication of amāra. The pre-revolutionary fictional works examined in the thesis deploy a narrative practice akin to what Fredric Jameson terms 'national allegory'. In focusing on the individual's part in the nation in their fictional works, Ashour and Soueif bridge the gap between the individual and the collective in a form of life writing that has been termed the 'Tahrir memoir'. What Ashour and Soueif create are multi-layered literary narratives that actively fuse history, politics, and literature in investigating Egypt, Palestine, and the Arab world. Through experimentation with literary forms, their works claim a new public space by embracing the duty of voicing truth to power. This project examines eight primary texts from their fictional and non-fictional works that critique political authoritarianism and voice social concerns through exploration and expression of selfhood, historical representations, and collective memory, maintaining their generation's ethos of carrying a fundamental message of hope. The writers' endeavour to re-envision the history of their nation argues for a public space in which they can, as female intellectuals, equally assert themselves as part of Egypt's community.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Rooney, Caroline R.
Thesis advisor: Abu Mennah, Bashir
Uncontrolled keywords: Radwa Ashour, Ahdaf Soueif, Egypt, Postcolonial, Jil el-thawra, Collective Memory, Realism, Life-Writing, Tahrir memoir, Fiction, Counter-narrative, History, Politics
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PL Languages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2019 12:15 UTC
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2022 00:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Al Sahib, May.

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