Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Gwen Athene Tarbox

Second Advisor

Dr. Jil C. Larson

Third Advisor

Dr. Karen Vocke

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Whitney Womack Smith


esponding to an increase in the literary output of Arab-American and Middle Eastern women in the post September 1 ll Attacks, I examined three exemplary memoirs: Leila Ahmad's A Border Passage, Zainab Salbi's Between Two Worlds, and Marjane Satrapi's The Complete Persepolis. This study examines these memoirists' journeys back and forth from their homes of origin to their host homes in the West. In addition to charting how these memoirists break their silence and liberate themselves from authoritarian patriarchal culture and institutionalized religion, I discussed how they construct new feminist identities expressed through the creation of what I term "imagined spiritual homes."

A major commonality among all these memoirists is their belief that their homes of origin could never be proper sites for their academic, intellectual, spiritual, or artistic ambitions. Although they have nostalgic sentiments towards their homes of origin, they depict these homes as sources of violence, crisis, and oppression. Each of these memoirists then seeks to fulfill her ambitions in a new "host home" in the West, an experience that introduces her to issues of alienation and dislocation, but which also provides her with an intermediary space for the development of an "imagined spiritual home"- a space that symbolizes the union of her personal and professional aspirations.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access