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Body and Word in Palestinian Literature: The Case of Hussein Barghouti

Thursday 22 November 2018
Free to visit, drinks after
What's New?! fall lecture series
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

More attention is being given to the body as an appropriate methodological tool to study Arabic literature. The body as a physical entity is not simply a mirror of life, but is rather a participant in its making; thus, standing at the juncture between form and formation. The link between body and word is central to the thematic notions of modern Palestinian literature and criticism. In her PhD dissertation, Omari uses the lens of the body to investigate the works of an understudied Palestinian author, Hussein Barghouti (1954-2002). Barghouti’s project is read as an initiation into a writing trend that questions issues of representation and ideological fixation, and champions the dialectics in life and literature.

This lecture uses the relation between the experiential body and the word as a way of exploring alternative modalities of thinking the literary. Guided by personal and literary circumstances that shaped Barghouti’s life and works, Omari looks at the body through multiple dimensions: the physical body of Barghouti that is being threatened and invaded by cancer, the land of Palestine as it is similarly being reshaped and invaded by occupation, and the literary body, where forms and genres of literary texts are being negotiated and contested. The body allows for the reading of the intersection of the personal, the national, and the literary in a manner that does not overpower one over the other, but situates the experiential at the core of the literary act.

About Haneen Omari

Haneen Omari received her BA in English and Comparative Literature (Major) and Arabic Literature (Minor) from the American University in Cairo (2011), and her MA in English and Comparative Literature from King’s College London (2012). She is currently finishing her PhD at LIAS under the supervision of Prof. Petra Sijpesteijn and Prof. Ziad Elmarsafy (King’s College London). Since January 2018, she has been a lecturer at LIAS and the International Studies program at Leiden University.

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