Dr.Lauren Rebecca Clark (Lecturer)
Chinese University of Hong Kong in Shenzhen
Long Gang District, Shenzhen
As the first female Algerian author to have her works translated from Arabic to English, Ahlem Mosteghanemi writes novels amidst a current of linguistic and cultural transgression. The Syrian poet Hala Mohammad’s work in the Poets of Protest series (2012) and her writings on social media shall be examined comparatively, considering Mosteghanemi’s novel Memory in the Flesh (1993). This paper shall examine both female writers’ roles as literary transgressors in and outside of Arabia and the academe. With artistic boundaries being tested so prolifically in the post-Arab-Spring era, a recent ‘freeing up’ of artistic space by both writers has provoked a literary evolution in female Arab writing. Beginning with an account of how the Algerian and Syrian Springs (both recent and past) have influenced each writer, a historical and structural account will be given to show how each writer complicates strictly structuralist or historiographical literary paradigms. Amidst political upheaval and cultural violence and displacement, each writer is seen to shape and develop their roles as writers. A relationship will then be made between how these writers address taboo subjects in otherwise orthodox states and varyingly find themselves subject to a polarised response: suppression or sustained popularity. Finally, it will be argued that a reevaluation of the role of the author or poet is incited by this transgression.
Hala Mohammad; Ahlem Mosteghanemi; Arab Spring; Arab writing in English; art and politics; Syria; Algeria.
Transgressive contemporary Arab women’s writing:
Ahlem Mosteghanemi’s Memory in the Flesh and the poetry of Hala Mohammad in Poets of Protest