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Tales of two houses : a comparative study between some Arab and British feminist novels

Ibrahim, Hanan Mahmud (1999) Tales of two houses : a comparative study between some Arab and British feminist novels. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86175) (KAR id:86175)


This thesis is a comparative study of some of the English feminist novels by Michele Roberts and Sara Maitland on the one hand, and some of the Arab feminist novels by Hanan AlShaykh and Ahdaf Soueif on the other. It consists of a general introduction and six chapters. The "General Introduction" deals mainly with the theoretical and methodological issues which have both informed and manifested in the analyses. It also includes some background information about the intellectual strands within a feminist discourse and a purview of the major issues as tackled by specifically feminist critics. Some of the basic objectives that the study attends to are also pinpointed.

Chapter one is entitled "Feminism: An Historical Context". It attempts to expose the complex relationship between an Arab feminist discourse as informed by historical relations with the West in colonial and postcolonial eras. A particular emphasis is placed on the emergence of feminism within an Arab-Islamic context. A socio-cultural and political interpretation of such relations is provided to promote a method of reading the novels as necessarily contextualised activities. Since genuine and constructive visions of transformation as pertaining to women's issues need be inherently embedded in certain political and historical realities, the second and third chapters are basically devoted to unfolding the entwining dynamics as informing the realities of both the Western and Arab "houses". How authentic both the Arab and British writers are in depicting their own distinctive realities in the different feminist novels arehighlighted and assessed. Also examined is the extent to which feminist political concerns could be seen as pursued at the expense of the aesthetic aspects of the novels. Chapter Four is devoted to analysing images of men in the feminist novels at hand. It also unravels how these images can be integrated into a comprehensive vision of change. The 111 relation between reductionist and stereotypical representations of men and the tenability of transformative visions are also discussed. Chapter Five, "Absences and Presences: Religious Icons and Ephemeral Images", is concerned with analysing the politics of certain exclusions and inclusions in the feminist novels especially in connection with some religious and other cultural forces pertaining to specific realities. Relating that politics to wider socio-cultural contexts helps in accounting for the convergences and divergences between the Arab feminist novel and its English counterpart and works to expose the nature of the intricate relationship between the two. Chapter Six, "Conclusion", underscores the most important findings of the study. The tenability of visions of change that would affect the lives of women and their societies at large as disseminated by the feminist novelists are assessed against various socio-cultural and political givens. I-low the profundity and comprehensibility of these visions are inherently linked to the novels' aesthetic value is also discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86175
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: Feminism
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature on music
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Culture and Languages
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:32 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2022 08:03 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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