Contemporary Middle East Fiction A: Identity and Belonging

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 2, Year 3 or Year 4
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level

Module overview

This module intrroduces students to the major themes of contemporary Middle Eastern fiction from the 20th and 21st century through the concepts of identity and belonging. It will familiarise them with the historical, cultural, and political dimensions of the region through analysis and close reading of literary texts. Students will also have the opportunity to engage with the theoretical and critical language of literary studies.



There are no pre-requisites for this module.


Objectives and learning outcomes of the module


  1. Demonstrate the skills of a sustained close reading of literary texts
  2. Analyse relevant historical, political and sociel events affecting contemporary Middle East in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries
  3. Recognise major discussions in the field of literary studies




This module is taught over ten weeks with two hours of classroom contact per week.


Scope and syllabus


  1. Nation and Nationalism
  2. The emergence of the nation as a paradigm for individual and communal identity
  3. The nation as woman
  4. National allegories in fiction
  5. Literary Genres: memoir, short story and the novel
  6. Literary Modes: parody, satire, irony and allegory


Method of assessment


  • AS1: Reaction Paper (1,000 words), due Term 1 (20%)
  • AS2: 10 minute virtual presentation (narrated powerpoint or video presentation), due Term 1 (30%)
  • AS3: Essay (2,000 words), due Term 2 (50%)
  • The exact assessment deadline dates are published on the relevant module Moodle/BLE page


Suggested reading

  • Abdul R. JanMohamed and David Lloyd, ed., The Nature and Context of Minority Discourse . Oxford, 1990.
  • Afkhami, Mahnaz, In the Eye of the Storm: Women in Post-Revolutionary Iran .  London, 1994.
  • Allen, Roger, The Arabic Novel: an Historical and Critical Introduction . Syracuse, 1995.
  • Anderson, Benedict, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism .  London, 1991.
  • Badran, Margot, Feminists, Islam and Nation: Gender and the Making of Modern Egypt . Princeton, 1995.
  • Bardakjian, Kevork B., A Reference Guide to Modern Armenian Literature, 1500-1920 . Detorit, 2000.
  • Beard, Michael, Hedayat’s Blind Owl as a Western Novel . Princeton, 1990.
  • Dawisha, Adeed Isam, Arab Nationalism in the Twentieth Century: from Triumph to Despair . Princeton, 2003.
  • Finn, Robert, The Early Turkish Novel: 1872-1900 . Istanbul, 1984.
  • Forsas-Scott, Helena, ed., Textual Liberation: European Feminist Writing in the Twentieth Century . London, 1991.
  • Ghazoul, Ferila J. and Barbara Harlow, The View From Within: Writers and Critics on Contemporary Arabic Literature . Cairo, 1994.
  • Hillmann, M. C., Hedayat’s ‘The Blind Owl’ Forty Years After . Austin, 1978.
  • Holbrook, Victoria, The Unreadable Shores of Love: Turkish Modernity and Mystic Romance . Austin, 1994.
  • Jankowski, James and Israeli Gershowni, ed., Rethinking Nationalism in the Arab Middle East .  New York, 1997.
  • Kamshad, Hassan, Modern Persian Literature . Cambridge, 1996.
  • Khorrami, Mohammad Mehdi and M. R. Ghanoonparvar, eds., Critical Encounters: Essays on Persian Literature and Culture . Costa Mesa, 2007.
  • Mehrez, Samia, Egyptian Writers between History and Fiction . Cairo, 1994.
  • Milani, Farzaneh, Veils and Words: the Emerging Voices of Iranian Women . Syracuse, 1992.
  • Al-Musawi, Muhsin, The Postcolonial Arabic Novel: Debating Ambivalence . Leiden, 2003.
  • Paloucgim A and V. Oshagan, Review of National Literature: Armenia . New York, 1884.
  • Panoosian, Razmig, The Armenians: from Kings and Priests to Merchants and Commissars .  London, 2006.
  • Ostle, Robin, ed., Modern Literatures of the Near and Middle East, 1850-1970 . London, 1991.
  • Ramras-Rauch, Gila, The Arab in Israeli Literature . London, 1989.
  • Shaked, Gershon, Modern Hebrew Fiction , tr. Yael Lotan. Bloomington, 2000.


Dr Keya Anjaria


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules