Mass Mediations: New Approaches to Popular Culture in the Middle East and Beyond

By Walter Armbrust | Go to book overview

ELEVEN
Badi'a Masabni, Artiste and Modernist
The Egyptian Print Media's Carnival of National Identity
Roberta L. Dougherty

Familiarity is what popular culture has delivered since the printing press.

JAMES TWITCHELL, Carnival Culture

Either sing monologues or forget it.

BADI'A MASABNI, al-Ithnayn, august 20, 1934


INTRODUCTION: MODERNITY AND CULTURAL HIERARCHY

“Great books” by “great men” have typically been the tools of study of a society's literary culture. In the case of Egypt, the twentieth-century canon includes the works of litterateurs such as Taha Husayn and Mahmud 'Abbas al-'Aqqad. A society's high-culture canon can also include figures from other areas of endeavor—journalists, artists, musicians, dramatists. For Egypt the cultural icons of this part of the canon would include figures such as editor Muhammad Husayn Haykal, singer Umm Kulthum, composer, singer, and musician Muhammad 'Abd al-Wahhab, and actors George Abyad and Najib al-Rihani.

For those who study Egyptian society and for Egyptians themselves, the achievements of these persons represent the culmination of an unbroken line of development from established traditions—both classical and vernacular—to modernity with just the right amount of Western technique added. Music critics and musicians themselves may link contemporary performers to musical giants such as Muhammad 'Abd al-Wahhab and Umm Kulthum, whose artistic roots could in turn be traced to such late-nineteenth-century figures as Salama Hijazi, 'Abduh al-Hamuli, and Almaz. 1 Critics and historians of the cinema and theater look back to the pioneers George Abyad, Najib al-Rihani, and Yusuf Wahbi, among others. Literary critics also follow this convention. For example, contemporary Egyptian critics usually trace the origins of social criticism in modern Arabic narrative literature to Muhammad al-Muwaylihi's Hadith 'Isa ibn Hisham.2 This story, first published in serial form in the newspaper Misbah al-Sharq in 1898, itself derives from venerable roots in classical Arabic literature (Allen

-243-

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Mass Mediations: New Approaches to Popular Culture in the Middle East and Beyond
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Preface ix
  • Note on Transliteration xi
  • One - Anxieties of Scale 1
  • Notes *
  • Two - Creating Arab/american Identities in a Transnational Domain 32
  • Notes *
  • Three - Persian Popular Music from Bazm-E Qajariyyeh to Beverly Hills Garden Parties 61
  • Notes *
  • Four - Transgender Pop and the Polysemiotics of Sex, Nation, and Ethnicity on the Israeli-Egyptian Border 88
  • Notes *
  • Five - Local Egyptian Performers Between Regional Identity and International Markets 120
  • Notes *
  • Six - Moroccan Music and Euro-American Imagination 146
  • Notes *
  • Seven - Reimaging Egypt's Lost Community 161
  • Notes 179
  • Eight - Public Culture and the Construction of Social Identity 182
  • Notes *
  • Nine - Mediating Modernity in Lahore 203
  • Notes *
  • Ten - Realism and the Transnational Imaginary in Turkish Popular Culture 224
  • Notes *
  • Eleven - The Egyptian Print Media's Carnival of National Identity 243
  • Notes *
  • Twelve - Hollywood and Revolution on the Nile 269
  • Notes *
  • Thirteen - Commercial Egyptian Cinema Before the 1960s 292
  • Notes *
  • References 329
  • Contributors 355
  • Index 359
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