Critiques in the Kingdom: Social Criticism in Layla Aljohani's Creative Writing Restricted; Files Only

Anderson, Jane-Marie (Spring 2020)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/f7623d71s?locale=en
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Abstract

The Saudi Arabian author Layla Aljohani embeds social commentary about patriarchy, female subjectivity, the US-Iraq war, and racism in her creative writing. This thesis investigates her novel Days of Ignorance as well as her creative nonfiction autobiography As I Have Grown, which has not yet been officially translated into English, focusing on her rhetorical styles and paying careful attention to her invocation of morality and Islam in both works. Her works have been well-received in Saudi Arabia, so this thesis investigates possible reasons why her particular methods of rhetoric were both progressive and acceptable in the Saudi social context. The thesis concludes that she engages the national Islamic moral imperative which has demarcated the Saudi Arabian national identity since the solidification of power under Ibn Saud. Since its founding, the Kingdom has inextricably linked fundamentalist Islam to the national identity and the government has punished people who have opposed it. Aljohani, however, has never faced great criticism. Her characters claim that it is properly moral to empower women to an extent but irreligious to engage in violence or racism. Far from disregarding or challenging the Saudi Arabian religious-national identity, she invokes the Islamic moral basis of Saudi national identity to bolster social messages which qualify patriarchy, empower women, and condemn violence.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 1

Chapter 2: Patriarchy……………………………………………………………………………………………………………16

Chapter 3: Female Subjectivity……………………………………………………………………………………………..44

Chapter 4: Violence……………………………………………………………………….……………………………………..68

Chapter 5: Conclusion…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..94

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