Skip navigation
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: Men in the Middle: Masculinity in North African Francophone Literatures and Cultures
Authors: Jacobs, Brian
Advisors: Benhaïm, André
Contributors: French and Italian Department
Keywords: francophone
North Africa
Subjects: Literature
Gender studies
LGBTQ studies
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Men in the Middle examines disparate representations of masculinity in North African Francophone literature, photography, film, and culture from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Beginning with my analysis of Tahar Ben Jelloun’s L’enfant de sable and La Nuit sacrée, I show that gender is not only a social phenomenon that can be constructed and deconstructed, but that there are consequences when one’s gender does not coincide with one’s biological sex. In analyzing the two novels, I examine how masculinity and maleness are defined in Moroccan society through Ahmed/Zahra’s gender performance. I then study Moroccan author, Abdellah Taïa, and his oeuvre, in which he confronts gender and heteronormative stereotypes, demonstrating that the North African Arab man does not always represent the conventional idea of hegemonic masculinity. As the first openly gay author from Morocco, Taïa uses his writing to assert his own sense of being and to show that the formerly constricting idea of the Arab man is evolving in the twenty-first century. In chapter 3, I turn my focus to visual representations of masculinity found in a collection of postcards by Lehnert & Landrock from the beginning of the twentieth century. Through my analysis of the portrayal of young Arab boys as alluring Odalisques, I show how the West endeavored to both eroticize and often feminize the “Oriental Other,” confirming the stereotypical belief that the Orient was a place of unbridled romance that did not share the same puritanical morals of European society. In my final chapter, I look at the evolution and de-evolution of masculinity in two films: Halfaouine ou l’enfant des terrasses by Tunisian director Férid Boughedir and Omar Gatlato by Algerian director Merzak Allouache. Through his delineation and contrasting depictions of men’s, women’s, and neutral spaces, Boughedir shows how the trauma of one boy’s expulsion from the women’s hammam mirrors the equally traumatic rejection from the nurturing world of women and integration into the austere world of men. Finally, I study Allouache’s film as a representation of the dangers of hyper-masculinity as he shows how exaggerated representations of masculinity and virility can be self-contradicting and debilitating.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:French and Italian

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Jacobs_princeton_0181D_11419.pdf2.2 MBAdobe PDFView/Download

Items in Dataspace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.