Date of Award

Fall 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Avi Santo

Committee Member

Jennifer Fish

Committee Member

Lindal Buchanan

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.H85 O24 2011


When Lebanese author Layla Baalbaki wrote her novel A Space Ship of Tenderness to the Moon in 1964 about a woman's defiance to her husband's wishes and his way of maintaining societal customs and traditions, an avalanche of criticism was directed against her. She was accused of obscenity and was put on trial before a Lebanese Prosecutor. Baalbaki's experiences are symbolic of the paradoxical and contradictory reception many Arab female authors have received in the East and the West. In this thesis, I discuss this discrepancy of reception in the works of Nawal Al Saadawi and Hanan Al Shaykh, two of the most renowned female authors in the Arab world. While Al Saadawi and Al Shaykh's works were disparaged and criticized in the Arab world, it was canonized in the West. This discrepancy necessitates the study of the discursive function of their authorship, for these authors' reputations have traveled trans-nationally. It is important to note that these writers were active agents -not passive victims-in the social construction of their authorship. Although at times they seem wary of the reception they have received in the West, I will argue that they have been compliant and at times invited that reception.


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