Autofiction on Screen: Self-representation of an Egyptian ‘Spinster’ in a Literary Blog

Abstract (in English): 

In this paper the blog Yawmiyyat 3nis [Diary of a Spinster] written by the Egyptian 3Abeer Sulayman [Abeer Soliman] is conceived as a form of autofiction. In fact, two aspects of online writing are of great importance for Egyptian bloggers. Firstly, blogging has given the Egyptian young people the possibility of sharing their innermost feelings and daily frustration without the fear of identification and humiliation due to their relative anonymity. Secondly, the computer operates as a projective device that allows users to discover and create different versions of themselves (Sorapure, 2003). Thus, blog writing facilitates autobiographic writing but at the same time turns daily life into fiction. The analysis of Abeer Soliman’s blog aims to show how the computer has an impact on the way diaries are written. On a structural level, I will highlight the presence of distinct literary features that are enhanced by the medium: the use of visual/audio components, the interaction with readers, and the presence of links. All these elements are essential for the understanding of Abeer’s self-representation. As for genre classification, I will show how Abeer uses her diary to talk about unspoken subjects in Egypt and to involve her readers in a challenging game of interpretations regarding the hybrid status of the blog. The study reveals that Abeer’s self-presentation in her blog aims to change the common beliefs regarding unmarried women over the age of thirty in Egypt. Also, linking fictional stories to her narrative “I” is a way to claim that sexual harassment, intimidation, rejection on the grounds of one’s marital status affect every Egyptian woman on a daily basis, regardless of their economic, intellectual and social status.

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Jill Walker Rettberg