Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies (PhD)

Degree Level



Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies


Mohja Kahf

Committee Member

Joel Gordon

Second Committee Member

Suzan Marren


Arab nationalism, Arab women, Arab women writers, Literature and nationalism, Middle eastern literature, Nationalism, Postmodernism, Women writers


A lot has been said about the declining status of national paradigms. Most recently, the forces of change have been located in the transnational and global phenomenon. Contemporary Arabic literature, however, identifies globalism as only one among many factors undermining the existing national formations in the Arab countries. Among these factors is the postcolonial condition, and in the case of Palestine, the struggle against the continuing military occupation of Palestinian lands, wholesale and unsystematized modernization, and complex internal Social, cultural, religious and racial differences exacerbated by neo-colonialism. The contemporary Arab women writers' fiction analyzed in this dissertation posits yet another dimension that can be said to dismantle the concept of the nation as an imagined and constructed political community from within. This fiction implies that the limited and independent aspects of the nation are its most imagined or false characteristics. The falsity of imagining the nation as such (limited and independent) becomes even clearer when we examine the nation's subjects, whose identities, by contrast, are fluid and unfixed. The argument proposed in this study is that the contemporary Arab women writers' fiction gnaws at the concept of the nation as a limited and fixed political entity, by depicting the individual identities of the national subjects as similarly constructed and therefore constantly reconstructed and unfixed. The writers discussed in this dissertation insist, thus, on the dynamics inherent in the act of construction, that is its constant reconstruction and re-signification, resulting from the enactment of identity.