Aidan Dodson's Seven Answers


“If you want to go for it, go for it—but do so with your eyes open!”

Aidan Dodson is a prominent British Egyptologist and an AUC Press author.

If you didn't know, Dodson is honorary Professor of Egyptology in the department of anthropology and archaeology at the University of Bristol, England, where he has taught since 1996. He was Simpson Professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo for the spring semester of 2013, and served as Chair of Trustees of the Egypt Exploration Society from 2011 to 2016. Awarded his PhD by the University of Cambridge, UK, in 1995, and elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 2003, Dodson is the author of over 20 books and 300 articles and reviews.

But do you know what he reads, how he writes his books, and what he would call his autobiography?

He shares all this in his Seven Answers.


AUC Press: What book(s) are you currently reading?

AD: Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett, and American Egyptologist: The Life of James Henry Breasted and the Creation of His Oriental Institute

 by Jeffrey Abt

AUC Press:
What is it about your field of expertise that really fascinates you?

AD: Being able to change history: to find some clue that either adds an episode or person that we didn’t previously know about, or update something we thought we knew about.

AUC Press: How much time do you put into your research before you sit down to write a book?

AD: I tend to research while writing. I usually write about something I already have a general understanding of—or have previously researched for an article—and start with writing the bits I know about. As a result I soon end up with lots of isolated paragraphs, with various strings of asterisks. Then I start filling in the gaps, which is where the fresh research happens, as I like to craft the output of research straight into usable words, rather that make reams of notes and only then start thinking about what I want to do with them.

AUC Press: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced while writing your books?

AD: Trying to make even the most complicated arguments comprehensible to the non-specialist, without dumbing things down.

AUC Press: If you were writing your autobiography, what would the title be?

AD: Of Pharaohs and Frigates—reflecting my parallel careers in Egyptology and matters naval.

AUC Press: What advice would you give to somebody starting in your field?

AD: If you want to go for it, go for it—but do so with your eyes open!

AUC Press: What book would you have liked to have written and why?

AD: W.C. Hayes’s Scepter of Egypt—no other work so beautifully blends the genres of museum handbook and political/cultural history.

July 2018




AUC Press author wins Peace Prize of German Book Trade


Egyptologist and cultural studies scholar Jan Assmann, author of From Akhenaten to Moses: Ancient Egypt and Religious Change (AUC Press, 2014), and his wife, literary and cultural studies scholar Aleida Assmann, have been awarded the prestigious Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, for their writings, which promoted “sustainable peace and understanding among the peoples of the world.”

In its jury statement last month about Jan Assmann’s scholarly writing, the German Publishers and Booksellers Association’s board of trustees said: “His extensive scientific work has examined the relationship between religion and violence, the genesis of intolerance and the claim to absolute truth, all of which have made an indispensable contribution to our understanding of the willingness and capacity for peace held by religions in today's global society.” 

Aleida and Jan Assmann Photo by Corinna Assmann  

From Akhenaten to Moses traces religious change through the fundamental transformation from the abolition of polytheism to the introduction of monotheism, and looks at the potential for violence in monotheistic societies. Assmann’s contribution to the debate about the rise and character of ancient monotheism has been described by some experts as “groundbreaking” (Paul Sanders, Protestant Theological University).

The Peace Prize of the German Book Trade is one of the most significant cultural awards in Germany. Since 1950 the prize has been awarded to writers, philosophers, and scholars, both in Germany and abroad. Among them are Nobel literature laureates Hermann Hesse, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Orhan Pamuk. Last year, the prize was awarded to Margaret Atwood.

The award ceremony will take place in October 2018 during the Frankfurt International Book Fair.

July 2018

Kallimni ‘Arabi Bishweesh selected best Arabic textbook


AUC Press’s Kallimni ‘Arabi Bishweesh has been selected from hundreds of recommended Arabic language learning resources as one of five "Best Arabic Books" by Tutorful, the UK-based online platform which enables parents and students to connect with tutors. 

Kallimni ‘Arabi Bishweesh: A Beginners’ Course in Spoken Egyptian Arabic 1 by Samia Louis is an innovative coursebook for teaching absolute beginners Egyptian Colloquial Arabic (ECA), the spoken dialect most widely understood in the Arab world. Louis, an experienced Arabic instructor and course developer, trains students through highly structured lessons in the crucial skills, with particular emphasis on listening and speaking, using real-life situations and expressions. The accompanying audio files carry recordings of the dialogs and exercises in each chapter, made by native Egyptian speakers.

This textbook is the first part of a complete six-volume series called Kallimni ‘Arabi. It teaches all levels of ECA, from beginner to advanced, to speakers of Arabic as a foreign language. 

“Publishing good Arabic Language Learning textbooks is one of our priorities which is why AUC Press is delighted to see Kallimni ‘Arabi Bishweesh listed at the top of the “Best Arabic Books” in Tutorful’s recent editorial,” said Dr. Nigel Fletcher-Jones, AUC Press director.

In her article “The Expert Guide to Learning Arabic: Tips and Tools for 2018,” Rachael Sprague, Student Enrichment editor, dispels common language myths about learning Arabic, offers “6 Steps to Fluency,” and advises students to “utilize every great resource possible” to learn the language. Her editorial recommends Arabic alphabet applications, Arabic language and culture blogs, and Arabic learning textbooks. “Kallimni 'Arabi Bishweesh is perfect for beginners,” she writes. 

“More and more people are learning Arabic and AUC Press is always looking for new and innovative ways to facilitate the learning process,” explained Trevor Naylor, AUC Press's associate director for sales and marketing. 

AUC Press publishes a large selection of Arabic Language Learning books, for both ECA and Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). Its most recent titles include Kilma Hilwa: Egyptian Arabic through Popular Songs Intermediate Level and Musiqa al-Kalimat Modern Standard Arabic through Popular Songs: Intermediate to Advanced by Bahaa Ed-Din Ossama, both of which give students the unique opportunity to learn Arabic through the songs of iconic Arab singers.   

June 2018

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