Arab American Women's Poetry: Violence and Boundaries in the Levantine Diaspora

Show simple item record LaRose, Christina 2018-06-07T17:45:58Z NO_RESTRICTION 2018-06-07T17:45:58Z 2018
dc.description.abstract This dissertation fills a research gap: to date there has not been a published scholarly monograph exclusively about Arab American women’s poetry. The study focuses on an insufficiently explored textual corpus: women poets with heritage in the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories) because this is the region from which most Arab Americans trace their ancestry. Analyzing the work of twelve Arab American women who published at least one full-length poetry collection, composed in or translated into English, in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, the dissertation takes as its source material poems from Etel Adnan, Naomi Shihab Nye, Nathalie Handal, Suheir Hammad, Mohja Kahf, Elmaz Abinader, Hedy Habra, Marian Haddad, Laila Halaby, Lisa Suhair Majaj, Deema Shehabi, and Hala Alyan. By using poems as case studies, the dissertation explores how Arab American women poets represent the problem of violence and articulate peace-building strategies in the Levantine region and transnationally. This research discusses how Arab American women poets address the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after WWI, the subsequent French and British colonial interventions, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Lebanese Civil War, the Gulf War, and the 2003 U.S.-led war in Iraq following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. These poets, writing in the diasporic afterlives of violent origins, often reflect on boundaries. A simple definition of a boundary is a line that marks the limit of something; limits can be physical, political, historical, temporal, embodied, behavioral, psychological, emotional, or spiritual. These poets evince a contemplative relationship to boundaries by illuminating how boundaries are reimagined by those who survived the traumas of violence and displacement. A contemplative relationship to boundaries does not create lawlessness or chaos but promotes considerations about how to improve the conditions of life. Although these poets or their ancestors experienced or witnessed acts of violence, these poets do not view themselves as victims, but as agents who contribute insights that benefit Arab Americans and a wider collective. These poets conceptualize the writing of poetry as a process that, through engagement with readers, results in healing from violence. Each chapter inquires how these poets claim agency because of diasporic displacement, and how they respond to violent conflicts in ways that renegotiate and reimagine boundaries. Chapter 1 observes that Abinader, Kahf, and Handal ponder the nature of boundaries, both spatial and temporal, and argues that these poets develop transnational Arab subject formations that both extend and modify central ideas of the 19th century Mahjar (migrant) literary tradition for late-twentieth and early twenty-first century audiences. The chapter also attends to how Handal engages with Samuel Huntington’s (1993) “clash of civilizations” thesis. Chapter 2 investigates how Shehabi, Halaby, and Adnan deliberate on the boundaries of the human subject by placing their poetry into dialogue with contemporary theorizing on identity and by highlighting their emphasis on relational identity. Chapter 3 questions how Abinader, Majaj, Nye, and Shehabi contemplate the boundaries of childhood through child characters and perspectives. In the process, the chapter examines how these poets’ work supports a critique of epistemic privilege. Chapter 4 seeks to understand how Abinader, Hammad, Alyan, Habra, Haddad, and Nye meditate on the boundaries of gender roles. Specifically, the chapter centers on how these poets denaturalize neoliberalism and value caring labor as central to a post-neoliberal social order.
dc.language.iso en_US
dc.subject Arab American Women's Poetry
dc.title Arab American Women's Poetry: Violence and Boundaries in the Levantine Diaspora
dc.type Thesis en_US
dc.description.thesisdegreename PHD
dc.description.thesisdegreediscipline English and Women's Studies
dc.description.thesisdegreegrantor University of Michigan, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies
dc.contributor.committeemember Alsultany, Evelyn Azeeza
dc.contributor.committeemember Tapia, Ruby C
dc.contributor.committeemember Karem Albrecht, Charlotte
dc.contributor.committeemember Smith, Sidonie A
dc.subject.hlbsecondlevel English Language and Literature
dc.subject.hlbtoplevel Humanities
dc.identifier.orcid 0000-0001-6209-0329 LaRose, Christina; 0000-0001-6209-0329 en_US
dc.owningcollname Dissertations and Theses (Ph.D. and Master's)
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