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Aspects of Arabic Online Literature in the Gulf

by Nele Lenze

Literature and poetry in Arab countries developed upon a rich tradition of oral story-telling and are still vital parts of cultural life all over the Gulf. In the age of new media, distribution of literary production has changed and now offers a wide spectrum for story transmission. As a consequence, online literature has emerged as a popular means of communication; short stories posted on blogs, in forums, and online publishing houses generate much commentary. This exchange of thoughts appears to be important for many web-users in the Gulf and triggers stories to “travel” from one virtual location to the other and affects the notions of author and censorship. Generally, it seems that Arabic online literature differs from online literature in other regions of the world. Until now, there exists only limited academic research on this phenomenon. Based on the analysis of a large text corpus of original Arabic online literature and interviews that I have conducted with authors in early 2010, this paper serves as a short overview of the concepts of online literature in the Gulf and discusses its various characteristics.

Introduction
1. Popularity of Online Literature in the Gulf
2. Forms of Online Literary Activity in the Gulf
3. Distinctive Features of Online Literature in the Gulf:
“Wandering”
Stories
3.1 Communication through Arabic Online Short Stories in Forums
3.2 Connecting Past and Present
4. Institutionalized and Self-Censorship
5. Conclusion
6. Notes
7. Works Cited

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