Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics

A multilingual journal published annually, featuring original scholarly articles in Arabic, English, and occasionally French. Each multidisciplinary issue is dedicated to a specific theme.

Articles from No. 35, Annual

"A Minor Literature in a Major Voice": Narrating Nubian Identity in Contemporary Egypt
Over the course of the twentieth century, the Nubian people were resettled several times to make way for dams on the river Nile. This article examines how Nubian literature has exploited the relative freedom accorded the Egyptian literary sphere to...
From Orientalism to Khomeinism: A Century of Persian Studies in Egypt
This article examines the evolution of Persian and Iranian studies as a modern academic discipline in Egypt since the early twentieth century. It employs Persian studies as a case study of Eastern Orientalism, while shedding light on the long-overlooked...
How to Write Death: Resignifying Martyrdom in Two Novels of the Iran-Iraq War
This article treats the topic of martyrdom in Iraqi and Iranian novels written about the Iran-Iraq War. During the war, the governments of both countries sponsored the production of literatures that espoused their wartime ideology, unquestionably promoting...
"Like a Balcony": The Philosophical Text within the Poetic Metaphor
"Like a house's balcony, I overlook whatever I desire." At first glance, this line by the late Palestinian poet Mahmud Darwish may not seem to bear multiple or complex meanings. A daring attempt at interpretation, however, can show that this simple...
Mythological Tuareg Gods in Ibrahim Al-Koni's Work
This article examines the Tuareg myths which form a large part of Libyan novelist's Ibrahim al-Koni's work. It focuses especially on the role Ancient Egyptian Religion occupies in his fiction and essays. It analyzes in particular two novels: Anubis...
New National Discourses: Tunisian Women Write the Revolution
This article examines how three Tunisian women writers--Amel Mokhtar, Fatma Ben Mahmoud, and Messaouda Boubakr--set out to write the revolution. In doing so, they transform the space of the novel for the first time in women's contemporary literary...
New Paradigms in the Study of Middle Eastern Literatures
The "Middle East" remains a contested term: It is the remnant of a neo-imperialist designation of a space that was sometimes synonymous with the colonial "Near East" but distinct from the "Far East," and is oftentimes a coded way of referring to the...
Reflections on Modern Literatures of the Middle East (Interview)
In this interview, the distinguished comparatist and translator Michael Beard addresses questions posed by fellow literature scholars: Ferial Ghazoul, Barbara Harlow, Samia Mehrez, Amy Motlagh, Kamran Rastegar, and Doris Shoukri. The issues discussed...
Tehran's Textual Topography: Mapping Youth Culture in Contemporary Persian Literature
This article offers a textual reading of youth culture in Iran and asks what insights literary analysis can provide to complement existing anthropological works on the subject. It examines a series of recent Persian novels, all published by Cheshmeh...
The Aesthetics of Difference: History and Representations of Otherness in Al-Nubi and Wahat Al-Ghurub
This article examines Idris 'Ali's al-Nubi (2001) and Baha' Tahir's Wahat al-ghurub (2006) and their significant novelistic undertakings of Nubian and Amazigh experiences in Egypt, respectively. Departing from the ethnically confined and linguistically...
The Critic as Activist: The Art Review Discourse in Iran
As public discourse, art reviews comprise a complex interplay between aesthetics and politics, particularly in societies that suppress open dissent. In the decade leading up to President Ahmadinejad's reelection in 2009, the art review became (not...
The Receding Horizon: Iranian Films and the Overcoming of the of Justice
This article draws upon the psychoanalytic notion of melancholia to make an argument about the limits of justice as delivered from the law, and analyze Jafar Panahi's White Balloon (1995), Abbas Kiarostami's The Wind Will Carry Us (1999), and Asghar...
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