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Masculine Identity in the Fiction of the Arab East Since 1967

Samira Aghacy

Publication Year: 2009

Through a series of close readings of twenty contemporary Arabic novels, Aghacy presents a mosaic of masculinities that challenges the generally held view of an essentialized archetypal Arab man and mirrors a contested vision of manliness where men figure in diverse sociocultural environments. This groundbreaking work reveals the volatile nature of masculinity and its inextricability from femininity.

Published by: Syracuse University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xi

Samira Aghacy is a serious and thorough scholar as well as a highly competent academic administrator, a blend one does not oft en find in our field, especially in the extremely difficult conditions of war that have plagued Lebanon in these last decades. Under harsh conditions, she was able not only to lead the Lebanese American University of Beirut (as chairperson of the Humanities Division and ...

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pp. xiii

The book is the outcome of a long period of engagement with gender issues in Arabic literature where I received considerable encouragement from colleagues, friends, students, and also from Lebanese writers. Teaching a course titled “Masculine Identity in Modern Arab Literature of the Near East” in the comparative literature program at the Lebanese American University was a rewarding experience. It has ...

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pp. 1-18

While gender studies in the Middle East have focused primarily on the situation of women, the presentation of men as gendered subjects has fallen behind and has remained an unexplored field of inquiry. Works on masculinity are scarce and limited to a handful of studies: Homoeroticism in Classical Arabic Literature (1997) is an examination of early Abbassid, Mamluk, Persian, ...

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1. Oedipus King: Tortured Masculinity

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pp. 19-54

In the introduction to his novel The Sail and the Tempest (Al-Shira‘ wa-al- ‘assifah, 1994), Syrian writer Hanna Mina asserts, “I do not understand poetry that much, but I like Elias Abi Shabaka. He is a volcano of flint and fire. He writes with dignity, and when a writer loses his personal masculinity, his literature is castrated . . . yes, castrated” (6). According to Tabaqat Al-shu‘ara’ by Ibn Salam

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2. The Politics of Masculinity: Goal-(Dis)Oriented Masculinity

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pp. 55-93

While the previous chapter focused on a traditional masculinity that aims to remain in control, this chapter deals with a paradoxically progressive and retrograde brand of masculinity that aims at social change and political resistance through armed struggle. Many works of fiction since the second half of the 1960s focus on the intellectual who uses his writing (novel, literature, drama) as an instrument ...

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3. Dictator as Patriarch: The State and the (Dys)Functional Male

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pp. 94-129

In a story titled “The One Who Burnt the Ships” (“Al-Ladhi ’Ahraq al- Sofon,” 1970), Syrian writer Zakaria Tamir speaks of “eight days” of the Creation where on the eighth day, God “created interrogators who came down to the cities with the police, the prisons, and their chains” (24). With vitriolic irony, the story sums up the plight of the Arab individual under dictatorship, where men pulverized ...

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4. Oedipus Deposed: The Man’s Sex(uality)

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pp. 130-179

This chapter focuses on texts that are explicitly conscious of masculinity as fragile and vulnerable. These texts were written under the shadow and in the aftermath of the Lebanese civil war, which left ineradicable scars on male as well as female writers, forcing them to come face to face with a new, more complex gender identity. The primitive and violent form of masculinity generated by the ...

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pp. 180-184

Despite the defeat of Arab nationalist projects and the resurgence of political Islam, this resurgence remains the least dominant theme in literature since 1967. In an article entitled “The Faith of Islam in Modern Arabic Fiction,” Trevor Le Gassick notes that there is “a striking absence of advocacy of Islamic values” in the works of Arab intellectuals and writers who “have been out of touch with ...


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pp. 187-197


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pp. 199-225

E-ISBN-13: 9780815650898
E-ISBN-10: 0815650892
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815632375
Print-ISBN-10: 0815632371

Page Count: 232
Publication Year: 2009