Helen Vassallo, ‘The Day Nina Simone Stopped Singing: Gender, War and Trauma’

Events, Podcastson January 10th, 2013No Comments

Scan1Date: 30 January 2013

Time. 5.00 pm

Venue: Royal Holloway, room WIN005

For the podcast of this session, click HERE.

The Day Nina Simone Stopped Singing is a semi-autobiographical narrative by Lebanese author Darina Al-Joundi, which recounts her coming-of-age during the Lebanese civil war and explores the entwining of socio-historical trauma and personal experience. Al-Joundi was raised in an unorthodox household: her father, a Syrian political exile, wanted to raise his daughters as “free women” in a society which made this “freedom” unrealizable, constraining Darina within other, equally harmful, stereotypes. The analysis thus examines the quest for one woman to find a secular “freedom” in a society characterized by religious conflict and gender inequality, and reveals this quest to be fraught with personal and social trauma. It will conclude by evaluating possibilities for “freedom” in exile in France, considering the extent to which Al-Joundi’s representation of the “free woman” challenges traditional dichotomies between East and West regarding notions of liberty, particularly as they are incarnated by women.

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