This issue of Alif is devoted to travel and travel-writing in the broadest cross-cultural sense and focuses on what Mahmoud Manzalauoui has termed indigenes, visitants, sojourners, and habitants or metics, particularly in Egypt and the Middle East. It is a tribute to Middle East scholar and acclaimed travel writer John Rodenbeck. Essays in this issue take a variety of approaches, ranging from the historical to the analytical and philosophical. Contributors include Sahar Sobhi Abdel-Hakim, Fadwa Adbel Rahman, Michael Haag, JDF Jones, Ceza Kassem, Nabil Matar, Malise Ruthven, Sarah Searight, and Terry Walz.
Wanderlust: Travel Literature of Egypt and the Middle East
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The Arabian Nights in Comparative ContextFerial J. Ghazoul
The Book of a Thousand and One Nights, better known as The Arabian Nights, is a classic of world literature and the most universally known work of Arabic narrative. Although much has been written about it, Professor Ghazoul’s analysis is the first to apply modern critical methodology to the study of this intricate and much-admired literary masterpiece. The author draws on a wealth of critical tools — medieval Arabic aesthetics and poetics, mythology and folklore, allegory and comedy, postmodern literary criticism, and formal and structural analysis — to explain the specific genius of the The Arabian Nights. The author describes and examines the internal cohesion of the book, establishing its morphology and revealing the dialectics of the frame-story and enframed cycles of narrative. She discusses various forms of narrative — folk epics, animal fables, Sindbad voyages, and demon stories — and analyzes them in relation to narrative works from India, Europe, and the Americas. Covering an impressive range of writings, from ancient Indian classics to the works of Shakespeare and the modern writers Jorge Luis Borges and John Barth, she places The Arabian Nights in the context of an ongoing storytelling tradition and reveals its influence on world literature....read more
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The Language of the Self: Autobiographies and Testimonies
Edited by Ferial Ghazoul 75
The Language of the Self: Autobiographies and TestimoniesEdited by Ferial Ghazoul
Autobiography is a protean genre: it covers so many forms and styles. When narrating one’s life, the narrator has to choose what he or she considers to be relevant and decisive. Beside the differences on what is fundamental in a life, the notion of the Self is culturally defined and thus varies from one place to another. The author of an autobiographical text may express only a fragment of his or her life, follow a thread in the trajectory through reminiscences, memoir, diaries, testimony, interview, letters, poems, etc. The author may declare openly that he or she is identical with the protagonist or may give the principal character a different name or no name. The author may depict private or public events, at times taking imaginative license or even including fantastic motifs. Autobiographical discourse is not only culturally conditioned; it is also symptomatic of the cultural moment. Thus it is important to explore the varieties of self-presentation, and not assume a fixed paradigm.
In this revisionist spirit that looks for different and alternative ways of recording one’s life, Alif presents the autobiographical drive in multiple contexts: ancient and contemporary Egyptian; nineteenth-century and twentieth-century Arab, Moroccan, and Iraqi; South African and West African; Canadian and American; Palestinian and Sudanese; English and Irish; and even that of a hybrid background Chinese American and Algerian French. There has been a tremendous surge in autobiographical writing in recent years, and the field has been redefined by literary and cultural critics.
From James Olney (ed.), Autobiography: Essays Theoretical and Critical (1980) to Dwight Reynolds (ed.), Interpreting the Self: Autobiography in the Arabic Literary Tradition (2001), a range of works have appeared challenging established views and approaches on the subject of autobiography. The epigraphs (whose English translation is drawn from the works mentioned above) attest to the complexity and diversity of motivations in writing about one’s past life....read more
The University and Its Discontents: Egyptian and Global Perspectives
Edited by Robert Switzer 75
The University and Its Discontents: Egyptian and Global PerspectivesEdited by Robert Switzer
This issue of Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics explores how universities have always borne the task of questioning, and how the role and status of the university itself has been put into question: the very idea of a university has been open to contestation, revision, and crisis. In today’s world, how do universities preserve their capacity for social critique and independent thought when their campuses and research facilities have been both literally and figuratively infiltrated by corporate interests and “support”? How does the tradition of the liberal arts square with today’s technically—and vocationally—minded students? How do the university’s institutions and ideals, born in Medieval cultures inspired by classical learning, fare in a world where everything, education included, is computer mediated, virtualized, globalized? What is the role of literature in this struggle for identity, given that so many writers now make universities their professional home? Original articles addressing a variety of issues from differing disciplinary and theoretical points of view are included in this volume, illuminating higher education concerns in Egypt and the rest of the world. Contributors: Steve Nimis, Sara Nimis, Henry Giroux, Steve Germic, Karyn Ball, Barbara Harlow, John Kress, Peter Cook, Bob Frodeman, Bruce Foltz, Jennifer Rowland, Magda Hasabelnaby, Bayoumi Kandil, Muhsin Mahdi, Doaa Embabi, Madiha Doss, Mohammed Abul Ghar, Ali Mabrouk, Nasr Abu Zayd, Faten Morsy, Mona Tolba, Anwar Moghith, Kamal Mougheeth, Samy Soliman....read more
Post-Colonial Discourse in South Asia
Edited by Stephen Alter 75
Post-Colonial Discourse in South AsiaEdited byStephen Alter
This issue of Alif explores a considerable variety of themes and problems that exist in contemporary South Asia, offering perspectives on poetry and fiction, popular culture and mythmaking, as well as the enduring resonance of Gandhian rhetoric and philosophy. Contributors confront environmental degradation and social injustice, post-colonial interpretations of Shakespeare, and the terrifying plague of AIDS, perhaps the first truly global epidemic. Despite the undeniably serious problems that afflict the people of South Asia, there is also much to celebrate after half a century of independence. There is a pervasive sense that the subcontinent has finally emerged from lingering shadows of the British Raj, asserting a new and ascendant identity, through art and literature, music, film, and popular culture. Alif Vol. 18...read more
16 color illus.
Trauma and Memory
Edited by Ferial Ghazoul 75
Trauma and MemoryEdited by Ferial Ghazoul
This issue of Alif focuses on trauma and loss and their presence in collective and individual memory. The question of traumatic events has been recognized in psychology, psychoanalysis, and literature, but scholarly studies have mostly concentrated on traumas enacted in the West—World Wars and the Holocaust. Contributors to this volume attempt to extend the field of trauma and memory studies to include other parts of the world: Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, India, Ireland, Lebanon, Palestine, Pakistan, multi-ethnic America, and ancient Greece. The Lebanese civil war or the Peloponnesian war, the Nakba of 1948 or the Naksa of 1967: the articles and personal testimonies in this issue explore the impact of such tragic events on literary genre, films, fiction, folk culture, poetry, drama, and visual arts. Alif: Journal of Comperative Poetics 30 Contributors: Nasr Hamid Abu-Zayd, Galal Amin, Gaber Asfour, Mohammed Berrada, Céza Kassem-Draz, Sabry Hafez, Barbara Harlow, Malak Hashem, Wolfhart Heinrichs, Richard Jacquemond, Andrew Rubin, Doris Enright-Clark Shoukri, and Hoda Wasfi....read more