I Am Not Naked: A Fictional and Theoretical Exploration of Home and the Flâneuse in 21st-Century Lebanon and Syria

El Hajj, Sleiman Y (2017) I Am Not Naked: A Fictional and Theoretical Exploration of Home and the Flâneuse in 21st-Century Lebanon and Syria. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire.

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This thesis mainly consists of two artifacts: a creative text followed by literary criticism. The research draws on the theoretical intervention of the flâneuse I have posited as a way of reading home in fiction. Not withstanding commentaries on the flâneur in the social sciences and cultural studies, no literary study yet has posited the connection between flânerie and home, let alone theorized the notion of the flâneuse as a subversive figure that can be deployed in creative, and then critical, writing to make intelligible the possible variants of home in the present-day fictions of Lebanon and Syria. I thus propose a redefinition of the term in a way that may also apply to readings of the trope in a literary text: I read the flâneuse as a determined woman whose acts of street-walking, or of movement from one place to another, are enacted on two levels in such a way that her physical journeys – in search of, or as a return to, her own conceived notion of home – intersect with an emotional itinerary that traces her development against, and resistance to, a backdrop of patriarchy and conflict. My PhD novel, I Am Not Naked, is a first in marrying the Lebanese and Syrian contexts and in appraising the subversive quests for home of their fictional female characters, both heterosexual and non-heterosexual, from the theoretical lens of the “flâneuse,” against the setting of two civil wars, the Lebanese Civil War (1975—1990) and the Syrian Civil War (2011—present). In the second section of the thesis, I shift rhetorical gear from creative to critical discourse in order to situate the novel, and henceforth its analysis of home and patriarchy that I read through the different theoretical imports that attach to the flâneuse, in relation to new creative narratives from Lebanon and Syria. Hence, in reference to three novels in which the trope can be culled – I Am Not Naked (Sleiman El Hajj, 2016, Lebanon and Syria), Cinnamon (Samar Yazbek, Syria, 2012), and An Unnecessary Woman (Rabih Alameddine, Lebanon, 2013) – I argue that the notion of the flâneuse I have postulated is reified in characters who defy patriarchy by employing flânerie as a multilayered vector for fulfilling the homing desire that drives their respective journeys. Necessarily, I hyphenate the intervention with relevant strands of criticism to better invigorate my reading of home-as-emotional-space, as opposed to a fixed place, in the three novels, hence the feminist flâneuse, the postcolonial flâneuse, and the queer flâneuse, terms unused in previous scholarship. My thesis also contributes to the nascent body of creative writing on the Syrian Civil War and the refugee crisis, and supplements the growing interdisciplinary corpus of research on (mostly male) homosexuality from a queer-female literary angle, given my novel’s focus, in part, on same-sex female affects through its characterization of Teta – a queer Arab grandmother figure – a representation still unexplored in extant Lebanese and Syrian literature of the 21st century.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Randall, Martinmrandall@glos.ac.ukhttps://www.glos.ac.uk/staff/profile/martin-randall/
Johnstone, Michaelmjohnstone@glos.ac.ukhttps://www.glos.ac.uk/staff/profile/michael-johnstone/
Uncontrolled Keywords: Creative writing; Lebanon; Syria; Sexuality; Flâneuse
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Creative Arts
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 26 Jul 2017 12:57
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 08:55
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/4805

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