Almaeen, M. (2018). Spirituality and Islamic Feminism: A Critical Analysis of Religious Agency in Selected Literary and Cinematic Works.
Islamic ideological evolution has been hugely affected by the cultural and political attributions of both colonisation and neo-colonisation. This is particularly evident in the polarising controversy over religious women's agency, which continues to engage many Islamic feminists. This research critically examines the religious agency of Muslim women as a product of the postcolonial ideological, historical and political factors that have shaped contemporary religious discourse, with a particular focus on Sufi informed religious agency. Sufism offers ideological and aesthetic tools that can empower agency in Islamic feminist writing, such as the spiritual ecology that is derived from Ibn 'Arabi's wa?dat al-wuj?d. Sufi literature is often critically analysed within the framework of Magical Realism, and this literary critical approach determines the reading of the mystical elements. These elements are therefore perceived as myths. This thesis avoids this critical mistake by asserting that these mystical aspects are faith-based articulations of resistance to the ideological normativity, of postcolonial ideologies.
This research examines a number of Sufi-based feminist novels: Leila Aboulela's Minaret (2005), "Days Rotate" (2001) and The Kindness of Enemies (2015); Raja Alem's My Thousand and One Nights (2007) and Fatma (2002); as well as the film Bab'Aziz (2005) by Nacer Khemir. The study of feminist views and the representation of women's agency affiliated with Sufism permits a further understanding of the literary and cinematic resistance to the normativity within which Sufi literature has been read. This study reveals that the novelists' and cinematic director's perspectives on spiritual women's agency, as articulated in the works under scrutiny, accommodate variable views of religious knowledge. This not only encourages different levels of engagement in the textual traditions as a source of agency but also instigates considerable engagement with the political issues that are integral to Sufism and women's agency. Overall, this research problematises both the normative consideration of Sufism and feminist engagement in the religious agency of Muslim women.
Anders, J. (2017). The Spirit of the Jest: Humour, Incongruity and Kipling’s Engagement With Modernity.
This thesis investigates Kipling's response to colonialism, capitalism and modernity, as a total system, and one that he engaged with in a critical and creative way. It does so by tracing the threads of incongruity and humour. This approach has been taken for a number of reasons. Firstly, Kipling's interest in the incongruous, appears not only in the material dealing with the colonial East, but extends throughout his writing career. Secondly, humour and incongruity are features that contribute to the aesthetic and ambivalence of Kipling's work, and their absence usually denotes a shift into a particularly dark and introspective register. Finally, incongruity and humour are rarely examined in Kipling's work (C. A. Bodelsen and J.M.S. Tompkins are rare exceptions), and their significance in his material has not been fully explored.
Alexander, C. (2017). Giving Backchat: Gendered Social Critiques in Anglo-Caribbean, Migrant Female Literature.
Giving backchat is a popular term in the Anglophone Caribbean and is locally considered a form of gendered speech. This form of discourse is like the African American concept of talking back with the exception of intent; giving backchat is not intended to convey disrespect whereas backtalk is impertinent. Typically applied to girls and young women, giving backchat is a way of challenging, interrogating, and upsetting social, cultural, and familial gender-biased norms in closed and sometimes unyielding groups that seek to impose forced silences on female group members. This project examines the appearances giving backchat makes throughout the texts of Anglophone Caribbean female writers-particularly those who are migrant, immigrant, and resident in Britain beginning in the 19th century and extending to the 21st century. Female authors with Caribbean roots residing in the UK such as Mary Prince, Mary Seacole, Jean Rhys, Una Marson, Beryl Gilroy, Joyce Gladwell, Andrea Levy, Jean Binta Breeze, and Eintou Pearl Springer utilise giving backchat in their texts, which include slave narratives, travelogues, novels, and poetry, to question the often stagnant roles women occupy in societies; to challenge false immigrant narratives or immigrant narratives exclusive of girls and women of colour; and to create dialogues more inclusive of the colonised or formerly colonised, female Other living in the Imperial, host society. This project examines several examples of immigrant narratives by these authors, fiction and nonfiction, to determine how giving backchat functions in these texts to promote a discourse focused on issues relevant to Anglophone Caribbean immigrant women living in the UK.
Mongiat, T. (2017). Confronting Heteronormativity in Postcolonial Zimbabwean Literature.
This project addresses the settler colonial context of Rhodesia and postcolonial Zimbabwe, and investigates the nature of, and relationship between, gender and sexual norms and colonialism through early postcolonial literary responses. Literature is not merely examined as a source of representation, but as an element of discourse which reflects and shapes norms. I analyse how writers police and reiterate heteronorms, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, and how they resist and contest the realities and logic of heteronormativity.
Robert Mugabe's now infamous homophobic outbursts in 1995 dehumanised homosexuals through references to dogs and pigs, and associated same-sex sexuality with American and European contexts. His rhetoric articulated a form of heteronormative nationalism which politicised the memory of colonialism, but also represented a significant discursive change in Zimbabwean society. Homosexuality, previously submerged by a culture of discretion and repression, had moved from the domain of the unspoken to the spoken, and from an invisible to a visible presence. Previously, references to homosexuality had been absent from public discourse in the postcolonial and much of the colonial period, and in Zimbabwean literature until the 1990s. Yet Dambudzo Marechera's controversial and progressive writing provided an exception - he explicitly represented the same-sex sexuality suggested by homoerotic depictions in other writing, but which was not portrayed.
This offers an example of the way I approach literature in this thesis - I view writing as a means of representation, but also as an element of discourse which reflects, shapes, and contests ideas and norms. Discourse, following the work of multiple poststructural theorists, is conceived of as a constitutive form which produces and limits subjects and expression, but which is subject to a persistent threat of reconstitution. My project, which explores the articulation of heteronormativity in postcolonial writing until the 1990s, is intersectional, and documents the relation between modes of oppression. Accordingly, gender constructions are examined and related to the articulation of normative heterosexuality, and to other signifiers, especially notions of race and ethnicity integral to the settler colonial context of Rhodesia and to Zimbabwean society. Colonialism is discussed throughout, and I examine and problematise the represented relationship between heteronormativity and the violent material, discursive, and psychological products of colonialism, and postcolonial nationalisms. My project aims to satisfy the need for a composite intersectional study examining heteronormativity in Zimbabwean literature.
Gad, Y. (2014). I Take Back My Body: Mapping the Female Body in Postcolonial Literature.
This dissertation examines the ways in which cultural definitions of gender, sex, and race have equally impacted and disrupted women and their relationships in postcolonial culture. Such relationships can be with either with oneself or with others. My argument throughout this project is that colonialism as an act of systematic physical and psychological violence, together with its residual effects that split the individual and his/her community, is a primary cause of transgression. Breaking social boundaries takes place through a process of coding and decoding the body where female characters portrayed from a selected range of fiction demand agency in environments that deny them such power. In order to track the development or loss of feminine identity, I comparatively study the characters and incidents alongside one another to show how oppression, across time and space, can produce different expressions of revolt. Unlike colonized men who are also forced to question the integrity and wholeness of their body, with women the oppression is twofold: she is made inferior by nature of her race and her sex. Until today, this has serious implications that hinder the cultural development and economic progress of postcolonial cultures. Hence, the discussions presented in this project call for a feminist and postcolonial understanding of the corporeal body and challenges Cartesian ethics which conceptualize the mind as superior to the body. Arguably, they contribute to other dualities which participate in similar hierarchical ideals when discussing racial and sexual difference such as, self/other, masculine/feminine, civil/uncivilized. Crossing over different geographies, writers such as, Ahdaf Soueif and Toni Morrison showcase women who reject the dualisms, even if some of their struggles end tragically. Representing postcolonial women in this light invites a less biased understanding of the body as lived, and its reactions as consequent to where and how it goes about such living.