Gender and sexuality in contemporary Malaysian popular fiction in English (2010-2020) by Malay Muslim authors

  • This study explores literary representations of gender and sexuality in contemporary Malaysian Popular Fiction in English (MPFE) written by Malay Muslim authors that are published in between the years 2010 to 2020. It questions why gender and sexuality are considered sensitive topics and the public discussion of these topics is deemed taboo by some Malay Muslim traditionalists and contemporary scholars of Malay literature. Previous studies suggests that Islamic rules and regulations influence the Malaysian Malays worldview. Its sacred book, the Quran, has established clear-cut prohibitions against any sexual indulgence among its believers. Muslim writers must learn to restrict themselves from indulging in sexual writings in order to prevent them from intentionally or unintentionally arousing their readers’ sexual fantasies that may lead both parties to sinning. However, at the end of the twentieth century, many factors such as the impact of modernisation through scientific and industrial revolution on Malaysian society, the influence of Western Humanities theories among local intellects, and the introduction of Internet culture have contributed tremendously to the dramatic social changes in Malaysia. These changes are reflected heavily in its literary culture. In recent years, the Malay people’s awareness of their body and individuality is heightened. There is a surge of curiosity among contemporary Malay Muslims about their gender and sexuality and they would want a discussion. Following this development, the first objective of this study is to provide the latest discussion on gender and sexuality in MPFE by Malay Muslim authors. The second objective is to provide observations on how MPFE authors employ their literary strategies to approach aspects of gender and sexuality in their literary works. It pays attention to how writers express their acceptance, negotiations, and/or rejections towards the dominant “normative” or “common” values in the Malay society with regards to their body and sexuality. Using textual analysis to examine one novel and six short stories from the MPFE genre, this paper cross-examines Malay literary theories on sexual and erotic literature available in Pengkaedahan Melayu (Malay Methodology), Persuratan Baru (Genuine Literature), as well as Western theoretical approaches in Postcolonialism, Postmodernism and Feminism on gendering system and sexuality, in its aim to explain the growing interest in the topics in spite of the red-tape around sexual taboos in Malaysian literature.

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Author:Faraha HamidiGND
Publisher:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Place of publication:Frankfurt am Main
Referee:Arndt GrafGND, Bernd NothoferORCiDGND
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of Publication (online):2022/06/21
Year of first Publication:2021
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Granting Institution:Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität
Date of final exam:2021/11/05
Release Date:2022/07/25
Tag:Malaysian English literature; Malaysian literature; gender; popular fiction; sexuality
Page Number:205
Institutes:Sprach- und Kulturwissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:8 Literatur / 82 Englische, altenglische Literaturen / 820 Englische, altenglische Literaturen
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht