Maha Mosalem


For most scholars, agency is a term that has most traditionally been coined with free will, resistance, and intentionality (Giddens, 1979; Ahearn, 2001). In this study, however, the construct is examined from a linguistic perspective aiming at exploring its creative dimensions in relation to gender identity in four Egyptian novels; Bayna ʔal-qaṣrayn (Palace Walk), ʔal-Bāb ʔal-maftūḥ (The Open Door), ʔu:ri:du rajulan (I Need a Man), and ʃaġaf (Passion). By adopting a mediated discourse analysis approach (MDA) (Scollon, 2002), this study examined the connections between discourse and action in social interactions. Using the grammatical, semantic, and discursive analysis, the examination focused on representations of agency emerging in contexts and dialogic interactions. For the grammatical investigation, the study followed Dixon’s (1994) classification of the subject as well as the category of voice while the semantic strategies included the semantic roles of the subject, verb types, and sentence moods for an interpretation of further character dimension. In addition, three discourse strategies were utilized, i.e. dialogicality, parallelism, foregrounding and backgrounding, the aim of which was to understand the macro-context of subjects’ actions. Based on this examination, the study identified five creative forms of agency characteristic of gender identity. For Amina in Bayna ʔal-qaṣrayn (Palace Walk), agency is associated with her maternal powers, whereas agency is relevant to self-actualization for Layla in ʔal-Bāb ʔal-maftūḥ (The Open Door). For Amina’s ʔu:ri:du rajulan (I Need a Man), the construct is associated with revenge. Finally, love and ambition are two terms through which the protagonist in ʃaġaf (Passion), Zaynab, exercised her power.


Applied Linguistics Department

Degree Name

MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Graduation Date


Submission Date

May 2019

First Advisor

Bassiouney, Reem

Committee Member 1

Agameya, Amira

Committee Member 2

Gebril, Atta


p. 155

Document Type

Master's Thesis


The author retains all rights with regard to copyright. The author certifies that written permission from the owner(s) of third-party copyrighted matter included in the thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study has been obtained. The author further certifies that IRB approval has been obtained for this thesis, or that IRB approval is not necessary for this thesis. Insofar as this thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study is an educational record as defined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 USC 1232g), the author has granted consent to disclosure of it to anyone who requests a copy.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Approval has been obtained for this item


And say, "My Lord, increase me in knowledge." (QS 20, p. 114). I thank Allah every single day for his blessings He has bestowed on me. Having been through this journey was not easy at all, but God gave me the courage and the perseverance to push forward. For that and for everything else, I am forever in Your debt. Secondly, this is specially dedicated to my parents and my brother. Without their support and guidance, I would have never been here. I am forever grateful to my Mom for her love, support, and her belief in me. Mom, this is for you! From the bottom of my heart, I thank my supervisor, Dr. Reem Bassiouney for being a source of inspiration for me. From the very first course, you have been a role model and I hope I could follow your footsteps one day. To the amazing Dr. Amira Agameya, your tremendous knowledge and support have been a guiding force for me to be the best I could be. I am forever grateful for your support and belief in me. I would also like to thank Dr. Atta for guiding me to be a better writer and an avid researcher. Your passion for learning is really inspiring. Throughout this experience, I have made friends with honest and sincere people. My lovely friend, Eman El-Feky, we have been supporting each other all along. I thank God to have met you. People like you do not come along that often. You have been my classmate, my buddy, and my backbone. I am also grateful for my friends Samira, Hasnaa Essam, and Marwa Rashwan for being extremely supportive and motivating. Love you, girls! Finally, I would like to thank my colleagues at work. First, I wish to express my sincere gratitude to Mr. Sameh Abdel Fadil for his tremendous support throughout this process. Having reached this point, I am really indebted to you for your help. My lovely friend, Sally Farid for her encouragement and motivation. I thank God to have met you and gotten to know an honest person like you. To my study buddy, Evelyne Eskander, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your having my back and just being the loving caring person you are. Lastly, thank you Eissa for being the supportive brother you are.