Ikram Masmoudi: The Appeal of the Gothic and Hassan Blasim's Fiction

Lecture | April 30 | 4-5:30 p.m. | 340 Stephens Hall

 Center for Middle Eastern Studies

Acclaimed Iraqi writers are using Gothic aesthetics and motives to narrate a historical moment marred by ubiquitous violence, cultural crisis and disintegration. Hassan Blasim’s stories are filled with unspeakable and ‘unreal’ violence. More than representing the irrational violence raging outside the texts in a realistic rendering, Blasim’s fiction produces in the readers its own brand of violence by staging the horror that lies within, with paralyzing and terrifying effects. Drawing on some of Blasim’s most powerful Gothic stories – The Corpse Exhibition, The Iraqi Christ and The Green Zone Rabbit among others, I will show how in recycling an old western genre (Gothic) to narrate a barbaric present, Iraqi literary production may effect cultural criticism and change.

Ikram Masmoudi is associate professor of Arabic at the University of Delaware. She is currently a visiting scholar at the CMES, at the University of Berkeley, CA. She was educated in Tunisia and France and taught Arabic language, literature and culture at the Universite de Provence, Middlebury College, Princeton University, and Duke University. In 2015 she published her book War and Occupation in Iraqi Fiction (Edinburgh University Press), she is currently working on a new book project on the Gothic in contemporary Arabic fiction, in addition to working on multiple literary translation projects.