Sinead Murphy (KCL) - 2014-15 Students

Present Futures and Present Pasts: Speculative Aesthetics in Contemporary Arab Literature

Speculative literature is a genre which encompasses science fiction, the supernatural and all the more fantastical genres of fiction. My project will analyse contemporary iterations of speculative aesthetics in Arab literature (written in English), mapping out their antecedents in a long-standing tradition of fantasy in Middle Eastern literature. I aim to explain how the reinvention of these antecedents mediates ideological contradictions specific to Arab literature. The authors I have chosen allow me to investigate the formal registration of persistent anxieties of identity, subjective agency and nationality arising from such geopolitical circumstances as dispossession, diaspora and violent conflict, across two socio-cultural contexts. I will also interrogate the use of the English language as a medium in the context of a contiuously evolving global literary marketplace, considering how these authors may engage in a process of ‘strategic exoticism’ of sociopolitical circumstances in the Arab world in order to appeal to an Anglophone audience.

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