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 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
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
World Literature: Perspectives and Debates
Edited by Andrew Rubin 75
World Literature: Perspectives and DebatesEdited by Andrew Rubin
As one of the first non-European journals to critically address the category of Weltliteratur bilingually from the perspective of the Global South, this special issue of Alif addresses this problem theoretically and empirically. The critical conversation about the problem of the category of Weltliteratur is not only extended beyond the European and North American sphere that has largely dominated and framed the discussion of Weltliteratur, but is juxtaposed formally in a way that permits us to understand that there are other “world literatures” that allow us to reexamine the contending theories, practices, and underlying assumptions of Weltliteratur. Essays in this volume emphasize in different ways the inherent tension between postcolonial studies and “world criticism,” and to that extent open up new realms for the discovery of new knowledges, new epistemes, modes of conversation, and communication....read more
Literature and the Sacred
Edited by Shahab Ahmed 75
Literature and the SacredEdited by Shahab Ahmed
Studies in this collection treat varied aspects of the relationship between literary discourses and ideas of the sacred in different cultures and epochs. Contributions by established and emerging scholars from the Arab world, South Asia, Europe, and North America examine issues such as the treatment of the sacred in literary texts and traditions, the literary dimensions of sacred texts, the impact of the sacred on literary imagination, the role of the literary in sacred experience, and the contestations between the respective projects of literature and the sacred over the constitution of cultural and social norms. Alif vol. 23 Contributors: English and French sections: Nasr Abu Zaid, Karen Campbell, Angelica DeAngelis, Markus Dressler, Michael Frishkopf, Scott Kugle, Heba Machhour, Olivier Sécardin, Marla Segol. Arabic section: Farid Abu Si’da, Boutros Hallaq, Ahmed Taher Hassanein, Anwar Ibrahim, Richard Jacquemond, Salah Kamel, Ali Mabrook, Sa’id Tawfiq....read more