Convergence of Sexual and Sacred in Home Fire: Analysis of Collocation Networks



A striking quality of the genre-specific stylistic features of the Pakistani Anglophone literature, particularly Shamsie (2017) is merging erotic with theologically charged terminology. The same writing practice of merging erotic imagery in the context of the sacred was observed in sixteenth-century poet John Donne (Hackett, 2004). Merging these two lexical domains is unsettling and arresting for a Muslim reader. Since every discourse consists of organized lexical patterning, this intermixing is reflected in the collocation networks and can be detected through corpus tools. This article verifies the intermingling of the lexemes from the domain of sexual and sacred through GraphColl – a tool for exploring collocation networks. We have chosen the novel Home Fire (2017) by Shamsie as a sample from the genre of Pakistani anglophone fiction. The concurrent presence of sexual and sacred imagery, once identified through collocation networks, is discussed for its repercussions. This type of intermixing, shades the meanings of lexemes from one domain by lexemes from the other domain, eventually leading to trivializing the sacred and glorifying the sexual. This study finds that the unusual presence of lexemes in close vicinity of each other can  be traced with the help of collocation networks and the detailed analysis of concordance lines proves that Shamsie (2017) has crossed the line between erotic and sacred in a recognizable Donnean mode (Hackett, 2004).

Keywords: Association measures, Collocation Networks, Collocation Parameter Notations (CPN), Donnean mode, GraphColl,

Merging Sexual and Sacred.