Modern Arabic Literature

Topic Overview

Through two case studies, Egyptian novelist, Naguib Mahfouz, and Sudanese novelist, Tayeb Salih, this talk reviews key themes in the study of modern Arabic literature. Tracing the transformation of poetry and prose from the nineteenth-century nahḍa movement, against the backdrop of premodern literary forms, it focuses on the tension between tradition and modernity, as both form and theme. In the process, central dimensions of modern Arabic literature, including the postcolonial, national, and intertextual, are discussed.

Reading material:

Paul Starkey, ‘Modern Arabic Literature‘ (Edinburgh: EUP, 2006).
Ashcroft, B. & Griffiths, G., ‘The Post-Colonial Studies Reader‘ (London: Routledge, 1995).
Nouri Gana (ed.), ‘Edinburgh Companion to the Arab Novel in English‘ (Edinburgh: EUP, 2012)
Waïl Hassan and Susan Muaddi Darraj (eds) , ‘Approaches to Teaching the Works of Naguib Mahfouz‘ (The Modern Language Association of America, 2012).


Novelist Tayeb Salih on ‘culture and conflict in the Sudan’, Writers and Company.

The full talk can be seen here: