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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Event Archive

This is an archive of past events within the Department of English Studies. Please see our current events for forthcoming activities.

Some of our public events are recorded and are available as podcasts via our Research English At Durham blog.

Behind Gilded Walls: Tales of wonder, the Gothic, and Islamic Mythology in Contemporary Literature

3rd October 2018, 17:30 to 19:00, Alington House, Meriem Rayen Lamara

Our final Late Summer Lecture crosses cultures to explore the how Islamic mythology is used by contemporary Muslim authors to appeal to Muslim and non-Muslim readers alike. Free and open to the public.

The discussion of the importance of diversity in literature has been on-going for decades. In light of recent political discussions regarding race and religion, in particular, there is, now more than ever, an urgent need for diversity in representation not only in literature but in all cultural mediums. Influenced by what has now come to be known as the ‘#OwnVoices’ movement which encourages authors to craft stories that reflect the ever-changing reality of many of us today, and following the rising focus on Muslim communities and Muslim culture, a number of Muslim authors took up the challenge to represent characters and stories that resonate with Muslim readers, as well as non-Muslim readers who are willing to read beyond deeply-rooted stereotypes.

In this paper, I consider the work of contemporary Muslim authors such as S. A. Chakraborty, Ausma Zehanat Khan, and Zeynab Joukhadar whose vivid imagery and writing open a gate to Islamic mythology and Middle Eastern folklore and invites for an exciting exploration into the sinister and mystical world of the Jinn, complex politics, and supernatural cities. I begin by outlining a brief history of Islamic literature, focusing particularly and specifically on tales of the supernatural that exhibit elements and concepts of the Gothic, notably concepts of Otherness and the uncanny. I then explore how contemporary Muslim authors draw on a rich Islamic literary tradition to create tales reminiscent of Scheherazade’s tales of wonder in The One Thousand and One Night.

Meriem Rayen Lamara

Meriem Rayen Lamara is a final year international PhD candidate at The University of Northampton. She is currently writing her thesis on the supernatural Gothic in contemporary Young Adult literature. Her adjacent research interests lie in children’s literature, dark fantasy, supernatural folklore and fairy tales.

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