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Contemporary Arab American Women Writers: Hyphenated Identities and Border Crossings ...

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Contemporary Arab American Women Writers:


The landscape of contemporary American literature has experienced a sea change in the wake of the civil rights movement and the passage of the 1965 Immigration Act that loosened restrictions on immigrants and refugees from Third World nations.1 Not only have the demographics of the United States changed considerably—to the extent that whites of European descent are expected no longer to be in the majority a few decades into the twentyfirst century—but the nation as a whole is becoming increasingly multicultural and aware of the evolving hybrid quality of American culture.2 No longer fixated solely on assimilation, American culture has turned at least in part to acknowledging and even at times celebrating its own cultural diversity in ways that are becoming more inclusive of the cultures of nonwhite and mixedrace citizens.

Not surprisingly, American literature of the late twentieth century and into the twentyfirst century has been deeply marked by these changes. A cursory look at book publications, literary prizes, selections for anthologies and syllabi of courses in recent American literature evidences an incredible diversity in terms of ethnicity and race among writers as well as of the cultural traditions from which these writers are drawing.