Re-imagining Egyptian national identity in the post-Arab Spring novel: the stylistics of representing social agents and building fictional worlds in The Queue and Otared

Mohamed, Nourhan (2021) Re-imagining Egyptian national identity in the post-Arab Spring novel: the stylistics of representing social agents and building fictional worlds in The Queue and Otared. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the stylistic construction of national identity in two translated critically acclaimed works of post-Arab Spring Egyptian prose fiction: The Queue (2016) by Basma Abdel Aziz, and Otared (2016) by Mohammed Rabie. Using Bourdieu's (1977) Theory of Practice and Anderson's (2006) Imagined Communities, two parallel conceptualizations of national identity in fiction are put forth. The first is that of deliberate action, habitual practice, or interactional processes by individual social agents, investigated on the clause level through the lens of Systemic Functional Grammar (SFG); the second is that of narrative technique or fictional world-building, examined through Text-World Theory (TWT). The clause-level representation of social agents is contextualized into a discussion of symbolic power in Egyptian fields of practice before and after the Arab Spring, while fictional world-building techniques are compared with previous works of post-revolutionary Egyptian fiction in terms of narration/focalization, spatiality and temporality, schema activation, and the overall narrative genre of the texts.

Findings of SFG analysis show a growing disempowerment of civilian social agents, especially in opposition to institutional representatives, and a disintegration of unity in favor of polarization in interactions with one another. This, it is argued, constitutes a marked departure from protest-time national identity. Furthermore, the TWT analysis shows distinct narratorial estrangement across the two texts similar to that of Egyptian post-revolutionary fiction of the sixties. Frequent script incongruities are visible through the two texts as they combine with different patterns of spatial and temporal world-switches to create textures of absurdism and dystopia, both considered developments of a predominantly realist Egyptian fiction. The booming of such relatively unfamiliar genres is consistent with findings from other studies on post-Arab Spring discourse (e.g., poetry, songwriting) and suggests the endurance of a revolutionary shift in identity expression.

Pairing SFG with TWT showcases the present study’s contribution to the field of stylistic studies of national identity in fiction. It highlights their potential overlaps, particularly with reference to the precursory nature of mental processes on the clause level to the construction of epistemic and perception modal-worlds, and the effect of identification choices on the suppression of enactors' focalization. More significantly, it outlines the complementary nature of an SFG-TWT blended approach to the analysis of fiction, given the potential of SFG tools in accounting for the negotiation of power and solidarity in dialogue, which is otherwise not fully developed in TWT. Equally, a TWT macroscopic analysis links textual choices to readers' knowledge and integrates cognition, which is largely absent in the model of context of SFG, into discussions of texture and literary effect.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Irwin, Derek
Yoong, Melissa
Keywords: habitual practice; narrative technique; fictional world-building; Systemic Functional Grammar (SFG); Text-World Theory (TWT)
Subjects: P Language and literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Faculties/Schools: University of Nottingham, Malaysia > Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of English
Item ID: 65620
Depositing User: Mohamed, Nourhan
Date Deposited: 04 Aug 2021 04:42
Last Modified: 04 Aug 2021 04:42
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/65620

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