Over the last decade, readers, publishers, and booksellers have noted a surge in popularity of genre works written by Muslim women, particularly in the Anglosphere. This project aims to bring together researchers to examine the global turn in popular fiction, and the concurrent “popular turn” in Muslim women’s writing through a focus on popular and genre writing by Muslim women (including romance, chick lit, detective fiction, Young Adult, fantasy, life writing, and science fiction) from a range of critical disciplinary perspectives.
The project asks:
- How does genre act as a “filter” for Muslim women’s writing?
- What opportunities does genre provide for challenging “filters” on Muslim women’s voices?
- How do Muslim women authors engage with and transform established forms?
- What role do popular fiction publishing and production models play in this process?
A number of scholars have undertaken work in English on Muslim literary fiction and Muslim women’s writing (e.g. Rehana Ahmed, Claire Chambers, Lindsey Moore, Peter Morey and Esra Santesso). However, few studies pay attention to popular and genre fiction. There is evidence of a burgeoning field in Muslim popular and genre fiction, including beyond the Anglosphere, with recent work on Arab science fiction (Murphy, “Frankenstein in Baghdad,” 2018), chick lit (Newns, “Renegotiating Romantic Genres,” 2017; Burge and Folie, “Girls of Riyadh and Desperate in Dubai,” 2020) and young adult fiction (Selfe, Representations of Muslim Women in German Popular Culture, 1990–2015, 2019). However, this research remains fragmented, organised across different disciplines, language groups, and continents. The local/global focus of this project – whereby indigenous popular genre discourse (notably in Pakistan and Turkey) will be in dialogue with global scholarly discourse – aims to generate international collaboration in a way that is relatively new for this area of scholarship.