Date of Award

Summer 8-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

Committee Chair

Dr. Martina Sciolino

Committee Chair Department

English

Committee Member 2

Dr. Kenneth Watson

Committee Member 2 Department

English

Committee Member 3

Dr. Luis Inglesias

Committee Member 3 Department

English

Committee Member 4

Dr. Ann Marie Kinnell

Committee Member 4 Department

English

Abstract

Ismat Chughtai of India, Tehmina Durrani of Pakistan, and Selina Hossain of Bangladesh depict some of the sociological, religious and legal aspects of wife abuse that is a chronic, yet little discussed anathema in a Sub-Continental Muslim wife's life. "Treatment of the Wife's Body in the Fiction of Indian Sub-Continental Muslim Women Writers," examines the fiction and autobiographical works of these women writers who problematize the deeply ingrained traditional modes of domestic violence as perpetuated upon the minds and bodies of Sub-Continental Muslim wives. Chughtai, Hossain and Durrani identify culture specific practices such as child marriage, dowry, polygamy, honor crimes, marital rape as primary sources of masculinist power that convert a wife's body into a site of oppression. It has been the aim of this dissertation to prove that in the absence of sufficiently adequate and specific Muslim Personal Laws pertaining to marriage, a gnawing gap exists between what the core discourses of Islamic heritage and attitude towards gender hold, and the actual situation of repression of Muslim wives that becomes apparent from the fiction of Chugatai, Hossain and Durrani. These writers contend that marriage does not entirely deprive a wife of her agency to subvert the status quo although socialization of her body under the auspice of the institution often proves devastating for her irrespective of her class, age and location.

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