A national front? : masculinity and national identity in the writing of Hanif Kureishi

Nelms, Emma. (2002). A national front? : masculinity and national identity in the writing of Hanif Kureishi MPhil Thesis, School of English, Media Studies and Art History, The University of Queensland.

Attached Files (Some files may be inaccessible until you login with your UQ eSpace credentials)
Name Description MIMEType Size Downloads
The16912.pdf Full text application/pdf 5.84MB 5
Author Nelms, Emma.
Thesis Title A national front? : masculinity and national identity in the writing of Hanif Kureishi
School, Centre or Institute School of English, Media Studies and Art History
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2002
Thesis type MPhil Thesis
Supervisor Dr Helen Gilbert
Total pages 110
Collection year 2002
Language eng
Subjects L
420200 Literature Studies
750308 National identity
750303 Gender
Formatted abstract
English national identity is defined by its imperial history, which continues to have substantial economic, social and political repercussions, not least of these being the migration of former subject peoples to Britain. Colonial theories coupled the apparent purity of white culture with national character and pride. However, these notions have been challenged, and increasingly English identity is understood as hybrid. Similarly, English masculinity has historically been constructed as an essentialised and homogenised entity and representative of the state of the realm. Hanif Kureishi's writing subverts and parodies the stereotypes of gender and national identity, negotiating the fragmentation and contradictions of the postcolonial metropolitan life through the deployment of imperfect and selfish male protagonists. They are frequently depicted as men of both Pakistani and English ethnicity, sexual promiscuous and/or gay or bisexual, entrepreneurial and financially savvy bohemians; they are characters who negotiate various cultural boundaries merely by ‘being themselves’. In Kureishi's work, masculinity as a cultural practice is akin to the performance of national identity. Kureishi incorporates a consciousness of the political landscape within his picaresque plots and offers, notwithstanding the humour and focus on individual character, a very intricate and sophisticated representation of hybrid identity, which this thesis attempts to theorise.

This thesis analyses the ways in which Kureishi represents the twinned masquerades of national belonging and gender by moving through a selection of his work in relation to three themes. The introduction establishes the colonial backdrop and briefly introduces Kureishi biographically. The first chapter considers representations of the nation; the next chapter moves 'inwards' to a study of suburban quests for Englishness, and the third considers sexual identities and transgressions. In tracing a relationship between national and sexual identities through these ever more psychologically intimate chapters, the thesis argues that the cultural paradigms used to construct an imperial British national and masculine identity were aligned and served each other. Furthermore, in Kureishi's writing these paradigms are revealed to be of continuing relevance, as characters in a postcolonial landscape negotiate the front or facade of nationalism by which masculine identity is constructed and controlled.
Keyword Gender identity
National characteristics

Document type: Thesis
Collection: UQ Theses (RHD) - UQ staff and students only
Citation counts: Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Fri, 24 Aug 2007, 18:09:56 EST