Mennan Salih profile

Mennan Salih

Mennan Salih

University of Westminster (2023)


Dr Atef Alshaer


Metaphors for the Social Transformations of Arab Cities: Aleppo, Baghdad, and Jerusalem Through Three Novels


In the past century, cities throughout the Arab world have been undergoing a plethora of unprecedented social transformations. These transformations have not only been documented in literature, but they have also impacted the literary scene and motivated a significant shift from poems to novels as the medium of choice for Arab writers. In addition to the novel’s ability to document change over time, one feature of novels that has been hailed as crucial to the sudden increase in their popularity in the region is their ability to accommodate complex metaphors on multiple levels in a way that reflects the complexity of the social transformations they portray. Thus, the relationship between the Arabic novel and metaphor has become an increasingly popular area of research, and one of the innovative methods now emerging to analyse this novel-metaphor relationship is through the lens of conceptual metaphors (Lakoff and Johnson, 1980). My research will use this widely-accepted psycholinguistic theory to explore the metaphors of the social transformations of three major Arab cities in three Arabic novels: Frankenstein in Baghdad (Aḥmad Saʿdāwī, 2013), No Knives in the Kitchens of This City (Khālid Khalīfah, 2013), and Hymns of Temptation (Laylā al-Aṭrash, 2014). Whilst metaphors in these three Arabic novels have been analysed before, this research will be the first to do so using this innovative and interdisciplinary approach, weaving together strands of psycholinguistics, Arabic literature, and sociopolitical changes in order to unearth complex insights into the cities’ transformations and perceptions of them.