Title page for ETD etd-04022009-210023

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Stampfl, Tanja
URN etd-04022009-210023
Title (Im)Possible Encounters, Possible (Mis)Understandings between the West and Its Other: The Case of The Maghreb
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department English
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Mustapha Marrouchi Committee Chair
Myriam Chancy Committee Member
Pallavi Rastogi Committee Member
Patrick McGee Committee Member
Petra Hendry Dean's Representative
  • Paul Bowles
  • Edith Wharton
  • American literature
  • Arabic literature
  • Ahdaf Soueif
  • Ahlam Mosteghanemi
  • Tayeb Salih
  • Patricia Highsmith
  • post-colonial literature
Date of Defense 2009-03-10
Availability unrestricted
My work deals with what I call (im)possible encounters, possible (mis)understandings between the West and the Rim of the World (in my case The Maghreb). I focus on writers (such as Paul Bowles, Patricia Highsmith, Edith Wharton, Tayeb Salih, Ahlam Mosteghanemi, Ahdaf Soueif) who stepped across the cultural dividing line to claim a voice of their own; a voice that enabled them to represent and at times misrepresent the host culture they chose to live in, and which acts as a “lieu” and at times “milieu de mémoire.” It is what the late Edward Said aptly called “intertwined histories, overlapping territories.” I analyze the trope of shared space, food, song, pleasure, sexuality, laughter, and even the concept of time between the cultures as they appear in In Morocco, The Sheltering Sky, Tremor of Forgery, Season of Migration to the North, Memory in the Flesh, and Map of Love. My approach is variational in that it seeks to look at what Raymond Williams termed the “alternative”: a telling that looks at both sides of the story—from the bottom up as well as from the top down. Suffice it to add that my way of seeing and/or narrating is hybrid insofar as it draws on Maghrebian, American, and European history, culture, and story-telling. It is meant to be worldly: its intention and method goes so far as to break down the boundaries of race, gender, creed, and even pleasure. I examine three works written by Western authors and three novels written by North African authors in order to trace and classify (mis)presentations of the other. My goal is to implement a way of reading that transcends Manichean binaries and to introduce Mezzaterra, a utopian meeting ground made up of fragments of recognition between various cultures, as a concept inherent in Post-Colonial literature and a transnational world. In tracing these encounters, I re-contextualize the actual time and space of shared history while reading the narratives not as unique depictions of encounters but as classic examples of (mis)recognitions between cultures.
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