La honte et la culpabilité: destins de femmes dans les récits algeriens du xxe et xxie siécle

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University of Alabama Libraries

This dissertation aims to explore a variety of representations of shame and guilt in twentieth and twenty-first century Algerian works written by women. More specifically, I argue that in three recent autofictional works by Assia Djebar (Nulle part dans la maison de mon père), Maïssa Bey (Bleu blanc vert) and Leïla Aslaoui (Coupables), by exposing feelings of shame and guilt, the authors accomplish a surprising task. Despite the negative connotation of these terms and the fact that those who bear them would normally choose to hide them carefully, shame and guilt, as experienced by the female characters in these works, open the door to feminine emancipation. In a patriarchal society in which revealing oneself and one's feelings, especially as a woman, is a shameful act and a serious violation of modesty, the three authors invest their female characters with the authority to speak and to rebel against the norms of what should be an obedient Muslim woman. In addition to a thorough textual analysis developed in the three independent chapters dedicated to the three works of Djebar, Bey and Aslaoui, my dissertation displays a solid interdisciplinary component. It relates to socio-criticism, psychoanalysis, Film Studies, post-colonialism, and feminism. The Algerian society before and after the Independence is portrayed through the eyes of women authors and includes the analysis of shame and guilt, using cultural and psychological criteria specific to Islam. This project will show how these female characters overcome the shame of their bodies and the look of the others upon them, the guilt to be a woman, to lose one's virginity before marriage and, overall, to trespass the forbidden and to violate the norms that establish a model of behavior for the women in the Algerian patriarchalsociety. By exploring the themes of shame and guilt, my research reinforces the new tendency in contemporary Algerian literary works in which authors focus more and more on individual needs and aspirations and do not treat their characters as insignificant members of their community.

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Modern literature