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Scholars Day 2006, Wednesday, April 12

Reconciling Dual Identities: Arab-American Women Overcome Orientalistic Misrepresentation and Misunderstanding through Poetry

Edward Said uses in his Orientalism epitaph, Marx’s quote: “They cannot represent themselves; they must be represented” (Said 1994, xiii). In my essay, I prove that the Arab-American female population needs not “be represented,” as so many talented writers (poets particularly) from that population write powerfully about their perceptions and perspectives on identity. Those explored within share intense messages with the rest of the world. Since September 11, 2001, a duality in writing has emerged. At once, the women feel more aware of their double heritage, but they have not been squelched by such awareness. Instead, the awareness has strengthened their resolve to recover their “lost voice[s]” and pass on their history (Darraj 2004, 135). We Americans can manipulate our own history to make understanding and equality a central standpoint from which to better view and experience the world. Through study of the writings, the self-representations, of such cultures as the Arab/ Muslim world within our own borders, we can take a valiant step in that direction, “communicating with each other in a dialogue of equals” (Said 337-8).

Presenter: Sueann Wells (Graduate Student)
Topic: English
Location: 218 Hartwell
Time: 10:45 am (Session II)