AMEWS Association for Middle East Women's Studies

This article uses a queer lens to analyze two short stories of Iraqi writer Dhu al-Nun Ayyub: “The Eagles Anthem” and “How I found a Guy,” which were both in his collection Sadiqi (1938). This article is an essential contribution to the field, elaborating on positive treatments and explorations of homosexuality in interwar Baghdad. The article draws in novel ways on literary criticism as a way of illustrating the nuances and complexities in discourses on homosexuality in Iraqi literature. The article proceeds via a historical discussion of the conditions of heteronormativity in Iraqi social and political projects, as well as in Iraqi literature. Ayyub’s writings re-works this dominant trend, though few have analyzed—or even recognized—the homosocial and homoerotic elements of his stories. This article recuperates those elements of his writings that have been rendered latent in the criticism, seeking to make them explicit and demonstrate their function: “illicit and subversive modes of engaging with the militarization of masculinity.” Olsen reads these texts in new ways that celebrate “homoeroticism and love between men as democratic critique and affirmation of heterogeneity, creative and subversive self-fashioning, and vitality in an increasingly nationalist, militaries and heteronormalizing setting.” This article contributes significantly to both Arabic and Iraqi literary criticism through queer readings that further the field of gender studies, but also the larger field of of literary criticism in Middle East Studies.