Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Feminisms Reading Group: Silence in the Saudi and Nigerian Contemporary Novel

18 October 2022, 4:00 pm–5:30 pm

Feminisms reading group

The Feminisms Reading Group at UCL aims to give students and researchers at all levels access to rich feminist discussions as well as insight into exciting current research being undertaken.

Event Information

Open to



Ilona Mannan

Silence in the Saudi and Nigerian Contemporary Novel
Rawan Althunyan

My research explores the concept of silence with regard to gender and language in selected Saudi and Nigerian contemporary novels. Drawing on theories of narratology and feminism, I examine the methods of narration and characterization of both female and male characters and how sometimes literary representations are conducive to silence maintaining mainstream narratives. mainstream narratives convey cultural perceptions of normalized femininity and masculinity which are intimately consolidated within the power dynamics of a culture. Concomitant to representation is the paratext of a fiction which play an important role in shaping the narrative and how it is read further complicating how fiction is perceived. Finally, I consider print culture and censorial practices, how this is diverged and avoided and how censorship sometimes contribute to the popularity of novels. 
I would like to discuss Saudi literature in this reading group as it is peripheral in many academic curriculums. After a short introduction to Saudi literature and Saudi female writers particularly, I would like to discuss the female contemporary Saudi journalist and novelist Badriah al-Bisher. Along with some of her articles and interviews, I will select extracts from her translated novel Hend and the Soldiers, which should be available in print and kindle version on Amazon for anyone interested in reading the whole novel, for further discussion with attendees focusing on the theme of motherhood.   

This event runs on Zoom. Email sarah.edwards.19@ucl.ac.uk or ilona.mannan.10@ucl.ac.uk for the Zoom joining link.

The Feminisms Reading Group is a collaborative initiative led by two PhD students from UCL's English department, Ilona Mannan and Sarah Edwards.  You can email us at sarah.edwards.19@ucl.ac.uk or ilona.mannan.10@ucl.ac.uk. The group is open to anyone, staff or student, from UCL and beyond, and is brand new as of the 2022 Autumn term.

The sessions predominantly cover different aspects of feminism, work by women writers, feminist theory and criticism, and depictions of women in literature. One PhD researcher or academic delivers each reading group session which is then chaired by the convenors, Ilona and Sarah. The format of the reading group is not set and can be changed depending on the preferences of each researcher. Formats so far include: a guest giving a short paper and then providing attendees with some short extracts to discuss, and a guest providing attendees with extracts and running a commentary and analysis session based on those extracts. No matter the format the session takes they are absolutely an occasion for networking, discussion and connecting with researchers and students. 

Preparatory reading is not mandatory so please do come along regardless. However, speakers do often provide some preparatory reading materials for attendees and you will most likely find you get more out of the reading group sessions if you have been able to spend a little time with the materials prior to the session. You may wish to prepare questions to ask the speaker about the topic as Q&A sessions are immensely rewarding, especially when you can discuss issues of interest to you with an expert.