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Arabic Literature

MOHAMMAD SALAMA

Subject Imperial, Colonial, and Postcolonial History » Postcolonial History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444334982.2016.x


Extract

The naming and renaming of the colossal body of literature produced by the Arab world (and not merely in the Arab world) starting from the second half of the twentieth century are themselves signs of ambiguity and uncertainty. This indecision, which has characterized the different associations, contexts, and conditions to which those names refer, is indicative of a certain failure of identification. A selection of those rubrics under which modern Arabic literature is often taught, especially in North America, would include Middle Eastern literature, North African literature, ethnic studies, minority literature, African literature, Third World literature, Near Eastern literature, global literature. There are also other nomenclatures like Arab-American literature, Anglo-Egyptian literature, and Francophone literature as variations on Arab/Arabic literature produced in languages other than Arabic, notably English and/or French. While such diverse rubrics are useful as they emphasize specificity and highlight important points of emphasis and exegesis, their overabundance still masks a corresponding lacuna. That which lacks an all-encompassing referent cannot be completely identified. Instead of definitiveness, we have a mixture of loose departmental appropriations, thus making that very corpus of literary production a perfect allegory for postcolonial dislocation. Despite such vigorous ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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