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Al-'Arabiyya: Journal of the American Association of Teachers of Arabic

Vol. 47 (2014) through current issue

Al-'Arabiyya is the annual journal of the American Association of Teachers of Arabic and serves scholars in the United States and abroad. Al-'Arabiyya includes scholarly articles and reviews that advance the study, research, and teaching of Arabic language, linguistics, literature, and pedagogy. The journal is published once a year.

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Alexandrian Cosmopolitanism

An Archive

Hala Halim

Interrogating how Alexandria became enshrined as the exemplary cosmopolitan space in the Middle East, this book mounts a radical critique of Eurocentric conceptions of cosmopolitanism. The dominant account of Alexandrian cosmopolitanism elevates things European in the city's culture and simultaneously places things Egyptian under the sign of decline. The book goes beyond this civilization/barbarism binary to trace other modes of intercultural solidarity. Halim presents a comparative study of literary representations, addressing poetry, fiction, guidebooks, and operettas, among other genres. She reappraises three writers--C. P. Cavafy, E. M. Forster, and Lawrence Durrell-- whom she maintains have been cast as the canon of Alexandria. Attending to issues of genre, gender, ethnicity, and class, she refutes the view that these writers' representations are largely congruent and uncovers a variety of positions ranging from Orientalist to anti-colonial. The book then turns to Bernard de Zogheb, a virtually unpublished writer, and elicits his Camp parodies of elite Levantine mores in operettas one of which centers on Cavafy. Drawing on Arabic critical and historical texts, as well as contemporary writers' and filmmakers' engagement with the canonical triumvirate, Halim orchestrates an Egyptian dialogue with the European representations.

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Anxiety of Erasure

Trauma, Authorship, and the Diaspora in Arab Women's Writings

by Hanadi Al-Samman

Far from offering another study that bemoans Arab women’s repression and veiling, Anxiety of Erasure looks at Arab women writers living in the diaspora who have translated their experiences into a productive and creative force. In this book, Al-Samman articulates the therapeutic effects of revisiting forgotten histories and of activating two cultural tropes: that of the maw’udah (buried female infant) and that of Shahrazad in the process of revolutionary change. She asks what it means to develop a national, gendered consciousness from diasporic locals while staying committed to the homeland. Al-Samman presents close readings of the fiction of five prominent authors whose works span over half a century and define the current status of Arab diaspora studies—Ghada al-Samman, Hanan al-Shaykh, Hamida al-Na‘na‘, Hoda Barakat, Samar Yazbek, and Salwa al-Neimi. Exploring the journeys in time and space undertaken by these women, Anxiety of Erasure shines a light on the ways in which writers remain participants in their homelands’ intellectual lives, asserting both the traumatic and the triumphant aspects of diaspora. The result is a nuanced Arab women’s poetic that celebrates rootlessness and rootedness, autonomy and belonging.

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Arabs and the Art of Storytelling

A Strange Familiarity

by Abdelfattah Kilito

In Arabs and the Art of Storytelling, the eminent Moroccan literary historian and critic Kilito revisits and reassesses, in a modern critical light, many traditional narratives of the Arab world. He brings to such celebrated texts as A Thousand and One Nights, Kalila and Dimna, and Kitab al-Bukhala’ refreshing and iconoclastic insight, giving new life to classic stories that are often treated as fossilized and untouchable cultural treasures. For Arab scholars and readers, poetry has for centuries taken precedence, overshadowing narrative as a significant literary genre. Here, Kilito demonstrates the key role narrative has played in the development of Arab belles lettres and moral philosophy. His urbane style has earned him a devoted following among specialists and general readers alike, making this translation an invaluable contribution to an English-speaking audience.

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Arabs in the Mirror

Images and Self-Images from Pre-Islamic to Modern Times

By Nissim Rejwan

What is an Arab? Though many in the West would answer that question with simplistic stereotypes, the reality is far more complex and interesting. Arabs themselves have been debating Arab identity since pre-Islamic times, coming to a variety of conclusions about the nature and extent of their “Arabness.” Likewise, Westerners and others have attempted to analyze Arab identity, reaching mostly negative conclusions about Arab culture and capacity for self-government. To bring new perspectives to the question of Arab identity, Iraqi-born scholar Nissim Rejwan has assembled this fascinating collection of writings by Arab and Western intellectuals, who try to define what it means to be Arab. He begins with pre-Islamic times and continues to the last decades of the twentieth century, quoting thinkers ranging from Ibn Khaldun to modern writers such as al-Ansari, Haykal, Ahmad Amin, al-'Azm, and Said. Through their works, Rejwan shows how Arabs have grappled with such significant issues as the influence of Islam, the rise of nationalism, the quest for democracy, women's status, the younger generation, Egypt's place in the Arab world, Israel's role in Middle Eastern conflict, and the West's “cultural invasion.” By letting Arabs speak for themselves, Arabs in the Mirror refutes a prominent Western stereotype—that Arabs are incapable of self-reflection or self-government. On the contrary, it reveals a rich tradition of self-criticism and self-knowledge in the Arab world.

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Better Story, The

Queer Affects from the Middle East

Illuminates the emotional significance of stories in response to racial traumas related to the Middle East.

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Cosmopolitical Claims

Turkish-German Literatures from Nadolny to Pamuk

When both France and Holland rejected the proposed constitution for the European Union in 2005, the votes reflected popular anxieties about the entry of Turkey into the European Union as much as they did ambivalence over ceding national sovereignty. Indeed, the votes in France and Holland echoed long standing tensions between Europe and Turkey. If there was any question that tensions were high, the explosive reaction of Europe’s Muslim population to a series of cartoons of Mohammed in a Danish newspaper put them to rest. Cosmopolitical Claims is a profoundly original study of the works of Sten Nadonly, Emine Sevgi Özdamar, Feridun Zaimoglu, and 2006 Nobel prize in literature recipient Orhan Pamuk. Rather than using the proverbial hyphen in “Turkish-German” to indicate a culture caught between two nations, Venkat Mani is interested in how Turkish-German literature engages in a scrutiny of German and Turkish national identity.
    Moving deftly from the theoretical literature to the texts themselves, Mani’s groundbreaking study explores these conflicts and dialogues and the resulting cultural hybridization as they are expressed in four novels that document the complexity of Turkish-German cultural interactions in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. His innovative readings will engage students of contemporary German literature as well as illuminate the discussion of minority literature in a multicultural setting.
    As Salman Rushdie said in the 2002 Tanner Lecture at Yale, “The frontier is an elusive line, visible and invisible, physical and metaphorical, amoral and moral. . . . To cross a frontier is to be transformed.” It is in this vein that Mani’s dynamic and subtle work posits a still evolving discourse between Turkish and German writers.

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Counterrealism and Indo-Anglian Fiction

What do R.K. Narayan, G.V. Desani, Anita Desai, Zulfikar Ghose, Suniti Namjoshi, and Salman Rushdie have in common?

They represent Indian writing in English over five decades. Vilified by many cultural nationalists for not writing in native languages, they nonetheless present a critique of the historical and cultural conditions that promoted and sustained writing in English. They also have in common a counterrealist aesthetic that asks its own social, political, and textual questions.

This book is about the need to look at the tradition of Indian writing in English from the perspective of counterrealism. The departure from the conventions of mimetic writing not only challenges the limits of realism but also enables Indo-Anglian authors to access formative areas of colonial experience.

Kanaganayakam analyzes the fiction of writers who work in this vibrant Indo-Anglian tradition and demonstrates patterns of continuity and change during the last five decades. Each chapter draws attention to what is distinctive about the artifice in each author while pointing to the features that connect them. The book concludes with a study of contemporary writing and its commitment to non-mimetic forms.

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Cultural Criticism in Egyptian Women's Writing

Caroline Seymour-Jorn is assistant professor of comparative literature in the department of French, Italian, and Comparative Literature at the University of Wisonsin-Milwaukee

Seymour-Jorn delves into the works of five female Egyptian writers: Radwa Ashour, Salwa Bakr, Nimat al-Bihiri, Etidal Osman, and Ibtihal Salem. Drawing on a combination of interviews and chronicles of their literary work, the author analyzes a range of female emotional, intellectual, family, and professional experience.

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Dante and Islam

Edited by Jan M. Ziolkowski

Dante put Muhammad in one of the lowest circles of Hell. At the same time, the medieval Christian poet placed several Islamic philosophers much more honorably in Limbo. Furthermore, it has long been suggested that for much of the basic framework of the Divine Comedy Dante was indebted to apocryphal traditions about a “night journey” taken by Muhammad. _x000B__x000B_Dante scholars have increasingly returned to the question of Islam to explore the often surprising encounters among religious traditions that the middle ages afforded. This collection of essays works through what was known of the Qur’an and of Islamic philosophy and science in Dante’s day, and explores the bases for Dante’s images of Muhammad and Ali. It further compels us to look at key instances of engagement among Muslims, Jews, and Christians.

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