This issue of Alif focuses on critical understandings of America beyond its frequent equation with the physical borders of the United States of America and the ideological jurisdiction of its official state. Critically exploring issues of transnationalism, globalization, ethnic pluralism, and cultural cross-fertilization, The Other Americas disavows narrow traditions of American exceptionalism and develops a conversation about the less visible “Americas” in the domestic and global senses, considering less wellknown—but no less central—cultural productions within the borders of the United States and beyond them. In addition to acknowledging the social, political, artistic, and literary vitality of the entire American hemisphere, the issue suggests an even more inclusive idea of the United States by highlighting oppositional cultural practices in the fields of literature, film, and performance. The issue presents versions and visions and variations of America that seek to interrogate national identity and broaden established definitions while suggesting new modes of inquiry into the U.S. as a place in conversation with others in the world. Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics 31.
The Lyrical Phenomenon
Edited by Ferial Ghazoul 75
The Lyrical PhenomenonEdited by Ferial Ghazoul
This issue of Alif explores the lyrical drive in its myriad manifestations: its formal presence in poems, epics and songs; and its informal dissemination in narratives, philosophy, painting, calligraphy, music and even in broken and discarded objects. The issue covers many languages and touches on a variety of cultures: Mesopotamian, Nile Valley, Greco-Roman; South African and North African; English and Irish; Greek and French; American and Arabic; Persian and Turkish; Urdu and German. Beside academic articles, this issue includes creative essays, poetry and art—all combine to analyze or embody the lyrical impulse....read more
The Literary Life of Cairo
One Hundred Years in the Heart of the City
Edited and with an introduction Samia Mehrez 24.95
One Hundred Years in the Heart of the CityEdited and with an introduction Samia Mehrez
Unlike The Literary Atlas of Cairo, which focuses on the literary geopolitics of the cityscape, this companion volume immerses the reader in the complex network of socioeconomic and cultural lives in the city. The seven chapters first introduce the reader to representations of some of Cairo’s prominent profiles, both political and cultural, and their impact on the city’s literary geography, before presenting a spectrum of readings of the city by its multiethnic, multinational, and multilingual writers across class, gender, and generation. Daunting images of colonial school experiences and startling contrasts of postcolonial educational realities are revealed, while Cairo’s moments of political participation and oppression are illustrated, as well as the space accorded to women within the city across history and class. Together, The Literary Atlas of Cairo and The Literary Life of Cairo produce a literary geography of Cairo that goes beyond the representation of space in literature to reconstruct the complex network of human relationships in that space....read more
22 July 2016
The Desert: Human Geography and Symbolic Economy
Edited by Ferial Ghazoul 75
The Desert: Human Geography and Symbolic EconomyEdited by Ferial Ghazoul
This interdisciplinary issue of the literary journal Alif is devoted to the desert—as a geographical locus and symbolic image—and to various texts related to it, drawn from literature and the arts, history and anthropology, film and environmental studies. Scholars from the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and North America contribute articles in Arabic, English, and French related to the visual representation of the desert in medieval iconography and in contemporary cinema, in American poetry and in pre-Islamic poetics, in human geography and in sociological thought, in French novels and in Arabic novels, in religious traditions and in ecological approaches, in travel literature and in critical discourse. Includes contributions by Saeed Alwakeel, Saad El Bazei, Sharif Elmusa, Jehan Farouk, Naglaa Hassan, Abdullah Ibrahim, Salma Mobarak, Senayon Olaoluwa, Yasmine Ramadan, Nathalie Roman, Randa Sabry....read more
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