EUME Summer Academy
Mon 02 Oct 2006 – Fri 13 Oct 2006

Travelling Traditions: Comparative Perspectives on Near Eastern Literatures

In cooperation with the Anis Makdisi Programme in Literature at the American University in Beirut

American University Beirut

The Summer Academy »Travelling Traditions: Comparative Perspectives on Near Eastern Literatures« was held in cooperation with the Anis Makdisi Programme in Literature from 2 October to 13 October, 2006 at the American University in Beirut. It will be organized within the research program Europe in the Middle East—The Middle East in Europe (EUME) of the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, the Fritz Thyssen Foundation and the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, and was directed by Professor Friederike Pannewick (Oslo University) and Dr Samah Selim (Marseille, Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin 2005/6).  

Please find here a report, an article, the brochure, the concept, the schedule of the Summer Academy and the original call for applications.

Twenty-four young scholars from eighteen different countries were given the opportunity to present and discuss their current research, while a group of leading scholars from the field of Comparative Literature and Near Eastern Literatures acted as tutors. Intellectuals, writers and scholars from Lebanon will participate in the Summer Academy. The thematic focus was on comparativist approaches to the study of literature in and across the Middle East and Europe, from early modernity onwards, through the prism of three main and interrelated issues.

The first section explored modern canon formation in the literary traditions of the Middle East, and its relation to a hegemonic European system of national philology. Scholars wereencouraged to explore the internal power of tradition-building and its relation to the politics of historical memory and nation-building. As such, this section emphasized the diversity of textual and critical traditions, and their anarchic potential in a modern field of national literatures intersected by strict notions of autonomous cultural identities. These questions aimed to foster comparative perspectives on conceptualizations of literary 'renaissance' in and beyond Arab, Persian or Turkish traditions, while broadening and problematizing the term itself as part of a wider comparative inquiry into Anglo-European intellectual history and cultural studies. 

The second section examined the formative role of translation and popular traditions in national literary histories. Here, scholars were encouraged to investigate the links between literary canons, translation and popular genres and to re-think established binaries – such as originality and imitation; 'high' and 'low' cultural forms - that shape the study of literature at large. This section also took account of the fact that genres are themselves intrinsically porous. Scholars were encouraged to explore and question the formal boundaries between what are usually considered distinct genres, like fiction, drama and prose poetry, as well as the mobility of literary genres across related cultural media, such as film and theatrical performance.

The third section focused on the links between canon-formation and historical transformations in literary criticism and theory. Comparative histories of literary criticism were of particular interest. How does literary theory travel across cultural, linguistic and discursive borders? Such movements into new locations are often distorted and impeded because they necessarily involve processes of representation and institutionalization different from those at the place of origin. The complex north/south itineraries of postmodernism and postcolonialism as well as Marxist and feminist theory are of particular interest in this context.

The Summer Academy was chaired by a group of leading scholars from the field of Comparative Literature and Near Eastern Literature: Professor Radwa Ashour (Ain Shams University, Cairo), the Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti (Cairo), Professor Sabry Hafez (SOAS London), Professor Angelika Neuwirth (Freie Universität Berlin), Professor Friederike Pannewick (University od Oslo) and Dr. Samah Selim (Marseille, Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin 2005/6).


Refqa Abu Remaileh, The Representation of the Anti-Hero in Modern Arabic Literature and Film
Michael Allan, The Limits of Secular Criticism: On Critical Reading in Colonial Egypt
Sinan Antoon, The Sub-Version of a Genre: The Iraqi Prose Poem
Elizabeth Bishop, Fanon in Furs: Theorist for North Africa’s National Liberation in Russian Translation
Sadiah Nynke Boonstra, Remix: The Story of Layla and Majnun in the National Cultures of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Iran
Atef Botros, Tradition’s Criticism in Taha Hussein’s Reading of Franz Kafka
Nino Dolidze, Maqama in the 20th Century Arabic Literature
Zalfa Feghali, Personal and Political Space in Mehdi Charef’s Tea in the Harem
Hani Hanafi, Reconstructing the Past: History in the Modern Arabic Novel
Dina Heshmat, “Cosmopolitan” Alexandria in Literary Illustrations and its Assessments at the Literary Criticism Level: A North-South Comparison Between Egyptian and Non-Egyptian Writers
Asli Igsiz, Poetics and Practice of “Minor” Literature in the Western Institutions: A Contemporary Case Study
Rajeev Kinra, Secretary-Poets in Mughal India and the Ethos of Persian: The Case of Chandar Bhan “Braham”
Erol Koroglu, Perpetual Struggle of the Nation in Turkish Narratives of the Independence War: Literary Cultural History of a Thematic Genre,
Michael Marx, Deciphering Giovanni Di Plano Carpini’s Travel Account to the Mongul Court (1245-1247)
Stephan Milich, Travelling Spectres – Palestinian and Iraqi Poetry of Exile
Mariam Nanobashvili, The Prose Romance of Barlam and Ioasaph
Francesca Prevedello, From the Novel to the Screen: The Adaptation of Western and Egyptian Novels in Egypt between the Thirties and the Sixties
Aminur Rahman, The Gaze Returned: The Empire in Indian Travelogues
Stuart Reigeluth, Detaching from Europe and Connecting the Mediterranean Basin
Frode Saugestad, Individuation and the Shaping of Personal Identity
Christiane Schlote, Beyond Hegemony: Anglophone Arab Literature and the Postcolonial Canon
Ivo Spira, Languages Rewritten: Isms as a Force of Change. The Impact of Isms on Chinese, Russian and Arabic: A Comparative Study on Language Modernisation
Babür Turna, Ottoman “Nasihatname” and European Utopia Literature in the Early Modern Period (1400-1600)
Barbara Winckler, Gender Transgressions or How is Gender Reflected in Modern Arabic Literature?

Please find here the original call for applications (in English) and in Arabic.

The Summer Academies are designed to support scholarly networks, to contribute to network formation and closer ties among research activities in and outside Europe and the Middle East, and to foster interdisciplinary research fields that will especially profit from intercultural cooperation. To promote intensive debate and to encourage new perspectives, the proposed format includes four main elements: presentations of individual research projects and working group sessions which are both closed to the participants only,  and lectures and panel discussions, which are both open to a wider public.

Institutional Framework

Travelling Traditions: Comparative Perspectives on Near Eastern Literatures is not only the theme of the Summer Academy but also  a research field directed by Friederike Pannewick and Samah Selim that is an integral part of the multi-disciplinary Berlin-based research-program Europe in the Middle East; the Middle East in Europe of the Berlin-Brandenburgische Academy of Sciences, the Fritz Thyssen Foundation and the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. This research program emerged from the Working Group Modernity and Islam (1996-2006) of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. It seeks to rethink key concepts and premises that divide Europe from the Middle East. Within the framework of several research fields in the disciplines of Literature, Political Philosophy, Urban History, Philology-cum-Late Antiquity, and Islamic Studies, the program will attempt to recollect the legacies of Europe in the Middle East and of the Middle East in Europe in an inclusive way that aims to do justice to their entanglements.

The Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences is an association of more than 200 elected members which follows the tradition of the Academy of Sciences, conceived by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz in 1700. Its purpose is to foster the sciences and the humanities. Its research profile is characterised by its efforts to promote cultural heritage, inter- and cross-disciplinary projects of scientific and social significance, as well as a dialogue between the sciences and society.

The Fritz Thyssen Foundation is one of the largest private Foundations in Germany which supports since 1959 research and scholarship in universities and research institutes, primarily in the humanities, with special emphasis on the support of young scholars.

The Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin,  founded in 1980, is an Institute for Advanced Study which offers outstanding researchers the opportunity to concentrate on their chosen research projects. With the help of an international Advisory Board, invitations to scholars and scientists, alone or bundled in thematic groups or emphases, are issued in a way calculated to promote mutual stimulation across disciplinary boundaries among the natural and social sciences and humanities and among researchers from different cultures of knowledge.

The Heinrich Böll Foundation is afilliated with the German Green Party and has its headquarters in Berlin. Its foremost task is civic education in Germany and abroad with the aim of promoting informed democratic opinion and socio-political commitment. Since its establishment in Beirut in 2004, the Foundation’s Middle East Office provides spaces for regional debates on the main themes of citizenship, cultural globalization and sustainable development; seeks to enhance the dialogue between Europe and the region; and supports cooperation with civil society organizations.

The Orient Institute in Beirut was established in 1961 by the German Oriental Society (DMG). The Institute is mainly funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research and carries out and promotes research and documentation work, offers a forum for co-operation and academic exchange between scholars and scholarly institutions, publishes critical editions of classical texts as well as several series of academic studies, and maintains a specialised research library for Oriental Studies.

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