AKMI Workshop
Do 27 Okt 2005 – Sa 29 Okt 2005

Circulating Genres: Literature, History and the Politics of Translation

Chair: Samah Selim (Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin 2005/6)


Please find the abstracts here

Since the early 19th century at least, new narrative and cultural genres have emerged in the Middle East. These new forms have usually been positioned within Europe-centred genealogies that privilege elite cultural discourses while obscuring the complexity of textual itineraries. As a result, popular or syncretic texts and movements have been excluded from canonical literary and cultural history. Against teleological approaches to these histories, this panel offers a comparativist approach to genre that eschews the limitations of Area Studies and situates its disciplinary concerns within broader transregional contexts. Emphasis will be placed on the basic ‘transportability’ of genres across national and cultural borders.

The vertical and horizontal movement of narrative and performative genres such as history, fiction, memoir and autobiography, and drama will be addressed by the panel. The formative role of translation and popular cultural praxes in the production of modern Arabic genres will be central to the papers presented, as will the historical and textual tensions generated by nationalism, canon discourse and the colonial encounter.


Dana Sajdi
(Concordia University, Fellow of the Working Group Modernity and Islam 2005/6), Nouveau Literacy in 18th Century Damascus: A Barber Among the Scholars
Samah Selim (Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, 2005/6), Musamarat al-Sha’b: Popular Fiction, World Literature and the Politics of Translation
Andreas Pflitsch (FU Berlin), ‘Transporting our literature from stagnation to life’ Russian impact on early modern Arabic prose literature
Ilham Khuri-Makdisi (Northeastern University, Fellow of Working Group Modernity and Islam 2005/6), Subversive Acts: The Theater and Social Contestation in Beirut, Cairo and Alexandria, 1850- 1914

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