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Directions: From the selection of the question, please answer the question in complete 5 paragraphs essay. Please make sure you use at least a documentary/film in the essay.

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•      Please use proper in-text quotation and a well written works cited page.

•      Please try to use at least 3-4 outside sources in your response and do more research on each topic as you will have a little bit

Semi-autobiography versus Memoirs: Written as a memoir, are Persepolis and I am Malala more powerful than Dazai and Sidhwa’s semi-autobiographical novels? Why or why not? Compare either Dazai or Sidhwa’s text with either of the memoirs we read in class. What are the benefits and drawbacks of memoirs and semi-autobiography? Please use specific examples to justify your observations.

Persepolis book

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Final essay: 2,200 words

Font: Times font 12, double space

Works cited page

Format: MLA 8th edition

Please use proper in-text quotations.


“Then he began to cry. Stop listening to music, he begged. Stop going to movies. Stop dancing. Stop, he begged, or God will send another earthquake to punish us all” (39)

This reading section ends on a very interesting note. First and foremost, it begs us to question the role of media? What kind of influence does the mullah have over the people? Why does he instill fear into the ones who are listening? Why doesn’t Malala give in and confrom to the fears?

Documentary – media and India-Pakistan Conflict

Genre: Memoir as literature and history – Definition

Memoir, n: a well-established genre used by historical figures and other thoughtful but less recognized men and women to capture a certain moment in time.

Records of events or history written from the personal knowledge or experience of the writer, or based on special sources of information. (Oxford English Dictionary)

Memoir as a literacy device

The unique attributes of memoir as a literary genre

The difference between autobiographies, memoirs, and diaries

Memoir as a powerful witness to history

The relationship between memoir and memory

The Question at Heart

What is it about the memoir that can make it a more powerful means of expression than other literary forms?

By using the example of Testament of Youth (1933), Vera Brittain provides perhaps one answer. Grappling with how to depict World War I from a young woman’s perspective, Brittain rejected the idea of writing a novel, feeling that it would be too far removed from the reality of her experience.

Opting to write a memoir enabled Brittain to recount her personal story against the backdrop of a harrowing war, within a society that decried female independence and denied her the right to vote.

Vera Brittain – Testament of Youth (1933)

Personal versus Political


“In no other fashion, it seemed, could I carry out my endeavor to put the life of an ordinary individual into its niche in contemporary history, and thus illustrate the influence of world-wide events and movements upon the personal destinies of men and women.” (12)

Autobiography versus memoir

A memoir can excel in evoking immediacy and veracity, where private feelings mesh with public issues and raw emotions intertwine with the detachment of rational argument and the exegesis of an intellectual or political stance.

Memoir Versus Autobiography: Memoir differs from autobiography in that the memoir concerns a specific, concentrated period within a life, whereas an autobiography tends to recount the story of a life that is generally more all-embracing, with a greater chronological sweep and more linear structure

Memoir, Diary, and Autobiography: All three forms of relating personal stories are told in the first person, and therefore readers need to be mindful of the process of interpreting a narrator’s point of view.

Chapter 12 – A school girl’s diary – Turning point

”He suggested that I use a fake name so the Taliban wouldn’t know who was writing the diary” (77)

My first diary entry appeared on 3 January 2009, but two weeks before Fazlullah’s deadline. The title was ”I Am Afraid.” I wrote about how hard it was to study or to sleep at night with the constant sounds of fighting in the hills outside town. And I described how I walked to school each morning, looking over my shoulder for fear I’d see a Talib following me” (77)

Popular Memoirs

Eli Wiesel’s Night about his account of surviving his experience in Aushwitz

Ishmael Beah’s account of war in Sierra Leone, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (2007) demonstrate how the memoir stands as a powerful witness to history.

Gives history a more human context than a bald recounting of dates, battles, and other details of more formal or grand historical narratives.

Demonstrate the occasionally didactic nature of the memoir, which raises consciousness about society, culture, and government.

The complicated relationship of history and memory

Criticism on the memoir genre

While the memoir serves as a testament to injustice, it is also a genre that may indulge the worst excesses of contemporary voyeurism and self-absorption, so it is worth considering when memoirs reveal merely narcissism and even deceit.

Malala’s narrative is typical of the memoir’s ability to give us an insider’s perspective on events that may seem remote when reported in newscasts and other media. The vividness of personal experience evokes not only the sense of terror and displacement caused by Taliban control but also the beauty of the Swat Valley and the renowned hospitality of the Pashtun people.


Group activity – Important memoirs

September 11, 2001 – USA

The Diary of Anne Frank – Holland

Elie Wiesel’s Night – Holocaust

A Long Way Gone– Apartheid, South Africa

Civil Rights

A Jewish Prisoner of War

Survivor Testimony – Holocaust

Group Activity – Discussion

How do they each portray the times?

The emotional context? Historical facts?

Where do we feel the greater affinity?

How do the contrasts and complexities relate to individual experience as it is affected by social, cultural, and historical events?

Do you find that you also have “contrasts” within yourself as they relate to things in your life that you feel passionate about or want to change? What can we learn from looking at the world and ourselves in a more complex way?

Two Editions of I am Malala

One of the major differences in the two editions is the actual description of shooting between her actual publication versus the reader’s edition, which we are using in class.

Why do you think there would be two different versions of the same memoir?

Pakistan’s culture and history

Even though it is easy to read Malala’s memoir as someone who is the victim of their cultural practices, this reading is problematic because it erases the complex lives of women who are a part of the third world.

How would you define the “third world”?

Malala’s Background and context

Malala’s memoir should be read as part of this tradition of critique and million Hindus and Sikhs left Pakistan for India, and 7 million Muslims left India for Pakistan. In this, as in other moments of ethnic conflict, women became targets of terrible sexual violence, mutilation, abduction, and commodification.

Subsequently, as feminist historians Ritu Menon and Kamala Bhasin detail, from 1948 till 1956, both India and Pakistan agreed to forcibly repatriate and “exchange” the over 100,000 women who had been abducted, regardless of the women’s own wishes.

They were also forced to leave behind any children they had after their abduction. Enacted at the scale of the nation-state, this dehumanizing action formally cast women as property that “belonged” to both the ethnic community they were born in and the nation. This idea that women are not equal citizens but rather that they “belong” to the nation and community—also operative in other conflict zones from Bosnia to Rwanda—has continued to shape women’s experiences during conflic

Historical roots of Pakistan

Mohammed Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan, had originally intended for Pakistan to be a Muslim country but a constitutionally secular state in which all communities— Hindu, Christian, Parsi, Sikh, Muslim—lived peacefully, and women and men had equal rights. Unfortunately, he passed away shortly after independence.

After 1947, ethnic minorities including many Hindus, Parsis, Jews, and Sikhs left the country, fleeing religious persecution. After Jinnah, successive political leaders colluded with the Army and religious groups as they jockeyed for political power.

The historical roots of Pakistan

TThe period from 1977 to 1988 under the military dictator Zia ul Haq saw a mass movement sweeping the countryside and the cities of Pakistan that argued for the radical Islamization of both state and civil society.

While religious parties were able to consolidate popular support from a largely uneducated and unemployed youth, as there was little industry in the fledgling nation to support the growth of a middle class, the Harvard- and Oxfordeducated political elite often made compromises with the Army and the religious parties to preserve their power.

Girls and Male Privilege

Culture: A culture can be arguably defined as a historically changing set of learned and shared ideas and practices, this understanding better helps us understand how the cultural privileging of boys manifests itself in different ways across the world.

Malala’s memoir shows how poor families in Pakistan and many other parts of South Asia endeavor to ensure that the boys get some kind of education and often care less if their daughter remains illiterate, because she does not need to be educated to assume the expected role of wife and mother

It’s a girl (2012) documentary

It’s a Girl (2012) shows that female infanticide has generated a massive gap in the population ratio of men to women across a large part of Asia, where, according to the United Nations, an estimated 200 million women are missing due to gendercide.

The social organization of South Asia’s many communities is largely patriarchal.

Many believe that the son will eventually care for the parents when they are old, providing a safety net for the future in a society without any state-sponsored social security.

The son therefore is to be prized; the daughter, however, will marry and leave for her husband’s family. She is thus often seen as an economic burden, even as she performs unrecognized but valuable labor in the fields and the home for her family.

South Asian Patriarchal System

These patriarchal ideas that the son is superior to the daughter prevail in middle-class and wealthy families as well. It is not uncommon therefore to see, as Malala describes, the husband and son in the family getting the choice meats at dinnertime, or more food, more milk or eggs, which is expensive, while the daughter-inlaw or daughter gets less or none.

Malala is able to cast a critical lens on this, because her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, who is educated, liberated, and fair-minded, rejects this genderbased way of treating girls as less, and she embraces his perspective. Because of his education and support, she is able to challenge gender inequality within her culture. But many others are not so fortunate

Discussion Questions: pp 80-120

Part of Malala’s story is reminiscent of “1984” by George Orwell and “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury. In a 1944 letter Orwell wrote, “All the national movements everywhere… seem to take non-democratic forms, to group themselves round some superhuman fuhrer [a German word meaning “leader”]… to adopt the theory that the end justifies the means… With this go the horrors of emotional nationalism and the tendency to disbelieve in the existence of absolute truth, all the facts have to t in with the words and prophecies of some infallible fuhrer.” Do you believe censorship is ever appropriate? How does that compare with parental control of TV, movies, books, and music? Who should be able to decide what you can read or hear? How does censorship work in Malala’s universe?

On page 87, Malala says, “war and terrorism had become a child’s play”. She describes the “almost daily” bombings of schools and other buildings in Swat. When a young person lives in a war-torn area, how does that influence attitudes, beliefs, and emotions?

How did the Taliban terrorize the people of the Swat valley? What type of restrictions were placed on men and women? Refer to chapter 15 and provide a specific example to justify your response.

The ineffective response from the army and government to the Taliban’s violent activities in Swat was a mystery and a grave disappointment to Malala and her family. Why would the government of Pakistan tolerate the Taliban in the country, when they were clearly causing numerous deaths, destruction to property, and fear among the residents in Swat?

First the Taliban took our music, then our Buddhas, then our his- tory… When Fazlullah came there were no more school trips. Girls were not sup- posed to be seen outside,” Malala wrote. In what ways are the rights of women limited in other countries? How might this be changed (if you agree that the rights of women should be changed)

Who was an outspoken opponent of the Taliban and assainated in 2007? Why did this person impress Malala? Name 10 heroes in the world. What makes a hero? How many are women? What are the characteristics of heroic people?

Documentary: He Named Malala (2015)

2015 documentary, directed by Davis Guggenheim

The documentary was shortlisted by Academy awards

Culture Politics and Pakistan

While it is tempting to see women and young girls like Malala as victims of their own culture, but Malala makes an interesting point. She says,

“I don’t want to be thought of as the ‘girl who was shot by the Taliban’ but the ‘girl who fought for education. ’ ” (152-153)

Therefore, today’s lecture focuses on understanding the Pakistani culture. We discussed a little bit of Pakistan in our last lecture but today we will discuss the factors that make it a country that has made the country vulnerable to external organizations such as The Taliban.

The History of Pakistan (1947- present)

Pakistan is a relatively young nation: It was formed in August 1947 when the British decolonized the Indian subcontinent. At the same time that the British granted India independence, they also divided it and created two countries, Pakistan and India. As I have mentioned, we will explore the 1947 Partition in detail in our third semi-autobiography – Bapsi Sidhwa’s Cracking India.

Having stoked fears on the part of Muslims that they would be oppressed in a free India, as they were outnumbered by Hindus, the British enacted a partition along religious lines. Many Muslim-majority regions formed “Pakistan,” and Hindu-majority areas were named “India.” Pakistan became independent on Aug. 14, 1947, and India on Aug. 15, 1947.

The history of pakistan (1977-1988)

1977-1988 – The radicalization of the unemployed and disenfranchised youth by then military dictator , Zia ul Haq both in terms of civil and state society.

While religious parties were able to consolidate popular support from a largely uneducated and unemployed youth, as there was little industry in the fledgling nation to support the growth of a middle class, the Harvard- and Oxford educated political elite often made compromises with the Army and the religious parties to preserve their power.

Malala observes in her memoir that General Zia argued that the Army’s government was “pursuing Islamic principles” and opened many religious schools across the country.

Pakistan and its Relationship with Afghanistan

Indeed, the rise to power of the Taliban in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa region, formerly known as North West Frontier Province, where Malala is from, is not unrelated to the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan during the Cold War

From 1979 to 1988, the United States covertly funded, trained, and armed mujahedeen militants through Pakistan, creating what became the Taliban to resist the Russian occupation of Afghanistan.

Military coups in Pakistan

First began in 1958 and three successful attempts (1958 – 1971, 1977 – 1988, 1999 – 2008)

1958-1971: the Pakistani President Major eneral Iskander Mirza dismissed the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan and the government of Prime Minister Feroz Khan Noon, appointing army commander-in-chief Gen. Ayub Khan as the Chief martial law administrator. Thirteen days later, Mirza himself was deposed by Ayub Khan, who appointed himself president.

1977-1988 (Operation Fair Play): General Zia Ul Haq took control overthrowing the more democratic prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The martial law enforced by President General Zia, it introduced the strict but modern form of conservatism which promoted the nationalistic and religious programmes.

1999-2008 – Bloodless coup-e-dat, when the Pakistan Army and then Chief of Army Staff and Chairman, General Pervez Musharraf, overthrew elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his existing elected government on 12 October 1999. Two days later, on 114 October 1999, Musharraf declared a state of emergency and issues a Provisional Constitutional Order.

Growing up in a war Zone– Chapter 21

The Taliban “might have been defeated, but their beliefs were still spreading.” (122) – limitations of civil rights.

“The bomb blasts were down to only two or three a year, and you could pass by the Green Square without seeing the aftermath of a Taliban killing spree. But true peace seemed like nothing more than a memory, a hope.” (123)

At this time, as Malala was experiencing what she called “limited peace”, she also realized her own ambitions. At this time she says, “I would do the things politicians only spoke of. And I would start with education.” (123)


“I have started having nightmares, too. Dreams where men threw acid in my face. Dreams where men snuck up behind me. Sometimes I thought I heard footsteps echoing mine when I turned down the alley in front of our house. And sometimes I turned down the alley in front of our house. And sometimes I imagined figures slipping into the shadows when I passed. I imagined figures slipping into the shadows when I passed.” (126)

Living in a war zone, young children are exposed to copious amounts of death, violence, and so on. Nightmares are a side effect of this type of trauma.

The Shooting

”Just after we passed the Little Giants snack factory, the road became oddly quiet and the bus slowed down to a halt. I don’t remember a young man stopping us and asking the driver if this was the Khushal School bus. I don’t remember the other man jumping onto the tailboard and leaning into the back where we were all sitting. I never heard him ask, “Who is Malala?” and I didn’t hear the crack, crack, crack of the three bullets.

The last thing I remember is thinking bout my exam the next day. After that, everything went black.”

This is the moment when Malala was shot. Recalling the past lectures we have had in class, think about how she is describing the moment that changed her life.

Does she have emotions as she is describing her shooting?

Immigration versus refugee

Her new life in Birmingham

“The first word I spelled out was father. Then country.”

After waking up from the coma, it is important to note that Malala is concerned about her father and country. These two words reflect the importance of her father and his role in her life, and the passion she feels for her country. However, beknowst to her, she realizes that she is currently in Birmingham, England. This adds another dimension of complications for her.

Repetition of trauma – page 137

What had happened? I tried to remember. All sorts of images floated through my head. I didn’t know what was real and what was a dream…I am on a bus with my father and two men shoot us…I am on a stretcher , and my father is reaching out to me. I am trying to wake up, go to school, but I can’t. Then see my school and my friends and I cant reach them. I see a black man pointing a gun at me.” (137)

How is she describing the aftermath of her shooting experience?

What does she mean when she cannot decipher between “real” and ”dream”?

Chapters 26-29

Understanding the aftermath of her trauma, in these chapters, Malala is experiencing a multitude of emotions and confusion about where she is, who she is with, where her loved ones, and how she got there.

She is also psychologically in a shock. Her memory is muddled and her dreams have turned into nightmares. These are also signs of someone who is suffering from a traumatic experience.

How is Malala describing her emotions after she was shot?

Is she conscious and aware of her surroundings?

What does she mean when she says ”the images seemed very real, yet I knew they couldn’t all be”?

Why does she call it a nightmare?

Page 162

”The doctors and nurses offered complicated explanations for why I didn’t recall the attack. They said the brain protects us from memories that are too painful to remember. Or, they said, my braid might have shut down as soon as I was injured. I love science, and nothing more than asking question upon question to figure out the way things work. But I don’t need science to figure out why I don’t remember the attack. I know why: God is kind to me.”

celebrity, n.

The state or fact of being well known, widely discussed, or publicly esteemed. Later usually: personal fame or renown as manifested in (and determined by) public interest and media attention.

In early use frequently synonymous with fame, but later often distinguished as referring to a more ephemeral condition (cf., e.g., quot. 1863), or as associated with popular as opposed to high culture

A well-known or famous person; (now chiefly) spec. a person, esp. in entertainment or sport, who attracts interest from the general public and attention from the mass media.

The power of celebrity: #Wearesilent campaign

http:// www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2602977/Selena-Gomez-Orlando-Bloom-celebs-tell-Malala-Yousafzais-brave-story-video-promoting-education-equality.html

http:// www.popsugar.com/celebrity/Reactions-Malala-Yousafzai-Winning-Nobel-Peace-Prize-35909600

How does the media reflect on Malala and her fame?

Do you think she is a hero(ine) like Malalai or she has become a celebrity figure much like Selena Gomez and Emma Watson? How are they similar or different from her?

hero, n.

Classical Mythol. and Ancient Greek Hist. A man (or occas. a woman) of superhuman strength, courage, or ability, favoured by the gods; esp. one regarded as semi-divine and immortal. Also in extended use, denoting similar figures in non-classical myths or legends.

A man (or occas. a woman) distinguished by the performance of courageous or noble actions, esp. in battle; a brave or illustrious warrior, soldier, etc. Cf

A man (or occas. a woman) generally admired or acclaimed for great qualities or achievements in any field.

The central character or protagonist (often, but esp. in later use not necessarily, male) in a story, play, film, etc.; esp. one whom the reader or audience is intended to support or admire

Heroism and Malala

In chapter five, Malala describes being caught cheating. Her father tells her stories of heroes who made mistakes, including Mahatma Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln. Later she says that it is hard to reconcile mistakes and forgiveness in her culture, a culture wherein people are taught to seek revenge and not to forgive and forget. What insight does this episode provide regarding the culture of Pakistan or Malala’s character?

I am Malala

After the shooting, confusion seemed to be the most prevalent emotion. Doctors, dignitaries, the army, the family, and friends heard and shared different stories. Of course, some of this confusion was detrimental to Malala’s medical treatment. At one point, Malala wrote about her father’s feelings, “In our society if someone dies, you feel very honored if one dignitary comes to your home. But now he was irritated. He felt all these people were just waiting for me to die when they had done nothing to protect me.” A similar emotion occurs when dignitaries visit a disaster site. Why do dignitaries become involved in dramatic events? Is this a benefit to anyone involved or a hindrance to disaster relief? What should dignitaries do to lend support and offer sympathy?

I am Malala

Malala mentions that her father had a visitor — a major for military operations in Swat. He called Malala “our daughter” because “now I was seen as the daughter of the nation.” Why would the Pakistani people embrace Malala figuratively the way after she was injured by the Taliban? Did they feel the same way about her before she was injured? Now that Malala and her family are settled in Pakistan, do you think that the people in Pakistan still see her as their “daughter”?

The end of the memoir

How does her memoir end?

What does she discuss in her epilogue?

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