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Amirah Mohiddin

Languages and Literature, University of Leicester

Thesis title:

Hybridity, Islamic Feminism and Fantasy: Constructing a counter-memory of the stereotypical Arab female in Arabic fantasy literature

My PhD examines the shift in representation of female identity in Arabic fantasy literature. I will implement an old model of female heroism inherited from traditional Arabic epic literature in the modern context of Islamic feminist and hybridity theories. I will also explore how fantastic elements are within the purview of religious doctrines, and thus an attempt at negotiating religious and feminist identities. These mystical elements are essential to the investigation of the female identity due to their political and social subversive power in representing the hybridity of the colonised subject.

I will investigate narrative and structural devices in Jayussi’s translation of The Adventures of Sayf Ben Dhi Yazan (1999) and Lyons Tales from 1,001 Nights (2010). I will trace the heritage of identified narrative and structural traditions linking to female heroism and the fantastical in modern texts, Mahfouz’s The Harafish (1977) and Arabian Nights and Days (1979), and contemporary texts, including Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn (2015) and Ciccarelli’s The Last Namsara (2017). By identifying the nuances in female identity, I will deconstruct the western stereotype that Arab women have a single ‘passive’ identity, investigating and implementing this in my creative practice. 

Research Questions:

  • How can hybridity theory and Islamic feminist theory be used to study female identity in Arabic fantasy epics and contemporary YA literature?
  • How can narrative techniques in Arabic epic literature be implemented to create a counter-memory of the current western stereotype of the passive Arab female?
  • How are fantastic elements within the purview of Sufi mysticism essential to the investigation of female identity in Arabic literature?

Research Area

  • Languages and Literature


Published short stories

'I'll Show you a Villain' - Little Book of Fairy Tales, Dancing Bear Books, 2019 (November 2019)

'The Next Dawn' - Litro Magazine 2019 (April 2019)

'Alraqs' - Post-mortem Press 2019 (February 2019)

'Alraqs' - The New Luciad 2018 (June 2018)

'Silence' - The New Luciad 2018 (June 2018)

'Ruhi' - Litro Magazine 2017 (October 2017)

Other Research Interests

  • Arabic epic literature
  • Female identity
  • 19th century fallen woman and the angel
  • Oral storytelling traditions
  • Novel form
  • Asian literature
  • Carnivalesque in literature
  • Fantasy literature
  • Contemporary literature- from children's fiction, YA, to adult fiction
  • Religion and Psychology


Bath Children's Novel Award - Longlisted