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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Hassan Ali Abdullah Al-Momani
Doctor of Philosophy
Title: Negotiating Generational Conflict and Identity Formation as a Way to Self-Actualization in Contemporary Arab American Women’s Literature
Dr. Gwen Athene Tarbox, Chair
Dr. Allen Webb
Dr. Mustafa Kemal Mirzeler
Dr. Lance Weldy
Date: Wednesday, June 29, 2011 10:00 a.m. to Noon
4028 Brown Hall
This study focuses on identity formation in three contemporary Arab American women’s novels: Alicia Erian’s Towelhead, a text written specifically for young adults, Laila Halaby’s West of the Jordan, a novel that has been read and embraced by Arab American young adults, and Evelyn Shakir’s Remember Me to Lebanon, a text that features a number of Arab American young adult protagonists. Central to this project is the question of how Arab American female protagonists negotiate a space for themselves within the power structure of their families and their communities in order to forge bi-cultural identities.
The first and second chapters present background information on Arab American immigration history and culture, as well as a discussion of the social problems faced by first and second generation Arab Americans in the post-September 11th era. The third chapter sheds light on the reasons that many contemporary Arab American women writers have chosen to depict female adolescence with a focus on young women’s negotiation of generational conflict and identity formation. In the fourth chapter, contemporary variants of Abraham Maslow’s theory of self-actualization are used as a way of investigating identity formation in Evelyn Shakir’s Remember Me to Lebanon and Laila Halaby’s West of the Jordan. In the fifth chapter, analysis is extended to a text written specifically for young adults, Alicia Erian’s Towelhead, paying particular attention to the ways a shift in audience alters the text’s narrative structure and focus.