Selena Rathwell

Photograph of Selena Rathwell

Department of English Literature
Doctoral researcher

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Phd title: Framing Women, Framing Selves: How are identities of “Western Expatriate” men and women created by gazing upon female bodies in contemporary literature set in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates?
Supervisors: Dr Dave Gunning
PhD English Literature


Selena Rathwell is a third year PhD candidate at The University of Birmingham within the distance learning program. She holds a double BA in English Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia, Canada and an MPhil in Popular Literature from Trinity College, Dublin. Her PhD, under the supervision of Dr Dave Gunning, seeks to explore the expatriate experience in the Gulf States through contemporary literature. Selena’s research delineates ways in which narratives use the act of gazing upon female bodies in order to ground Western expatriate identities and interrogates the changing role of Orientalism and objectification. Selena has been living in the Middle East for five years, and is currently living in Doha, Qatar, where she teaches English language and literature.

Selena’s PhD Research is centred on contemporary literature emerging out of the Gulf region, and in particular in English literature emerging from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In her research, Selena focuses on gender relations, the representation of women, Orientalism, and the male gaze. While looking at both expatriate and local writers, Selena is investigating the unique position of the Gulf as a site for intercultural relations and a unique sphere for identity making.