Arabic Literature Colloquiums


Fictions of Capital in the Nile Valley: Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North, the Nahdah, and the Cold War

Fictions of Capital in the Nile Valley: Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North, the Nahdah, and the Cold War

Presented by: Elizabeth M. Holt, Bard College

When: Thursday, October 11, 5:00PM 

Where: CCAS Boardroom (ICC 241)



Lecture-workshop [in arabic]

"The Memory of Place - A case-study of two Kuwaiti novels"

The Mice of My Mother Hessa by Saud al-Sanousi

All the Things by Bothayna al-Essa

Presented by: Anwar Alsaad, The American University of the Middle East, Kuwait

When: 4:00 pm, Thursday, July 19, 2018 

Where: CCAS Boardroom (ICC 241)


In Pursuit of prose poem: A Colloquium in Response to Sayed Elsisi’s Mā Baʿda Qaṣīdaṭ al-Nathr (After the Prose Poem)

Sayyid Elsisi, University of Maryland, College Park

Suzanne Stetkevych, Georgetown University

Huda J. Fakhreddine, University of Pennsylvania

Nazem Elsayed, Lebanese Poet

Mohammad Alahmad, Georgetown University

Clarissa Burt, The United States Naval Academy

Hatem Alzahrani, Georgetown University

When: 1-5 pm, Friday November 10, 2017

Where: ICC 450




A lecture in Arabic by Hamad Obaid Alajmi

"The pre-Islamic Battle of Dhū Qār: From History to Collective Memory"

Assistant Professor of Arabic Literature, Kuwait University

Visiting Research Scholar

Department of Arabic & Islamic Studies, Georgetown University

When: Tuesday November 29th 5:00pm, Where: CCAS Boardroom (ICC 241)


This paper attempts to trace the legacy of the Battle of Dhū Qār, a celebrated, if semi-legendary, pre-Islamic victory of the Arab tribe of Bakr ibn Wāʾil and the clans of Banū Shaybān over the Persian army. Employing current concepts of Collective Memory, this study will show how narratives and poetry associated with the Battle of Dhū Qār have been perpetuated, at least since the Abbasid period, in the context of Arab-Persian rivalry. It will also focus on two modern situations in which the Battle of Dhū Qār has been evoked: the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) and the Saudi-Houthi conflict (2015-). It will address what is remembered and who remembers it; who is included and who is excluded; and, above all, what purposes the commemoration of the Battle of Dhū  Qār serves in Arab culture.

Fall 2016 Poetry Colloquium: Transgression and Invention Language, Genre and Interarts in Modern Arabic Poetry
Poetry Reading & Roundtable on Translation: The Poetry of Qassim Haddad

(Both Events will be in Arabic)

Poetry Reading by Qassim Haddad

When: Wednesday Oct. 19th, 6:00pm

Where: CCAS Boardroom (ICC 241)

Reception to Follow the Reading


Roundtable on Translation: The Poetry of Qassim Haddad

When: Friday Oct. 21st, 3:00pm

Where: ICC 450

Roundtable participants include:

Acclaimed Bahraini Poet and Critic, Qassim Haddad, Sakka Family Fund Visiting Professor, Arabic and Islamic Studies, Georgetown University

Ferial Ghazoul, American University in Cairo

Sharif Elmusa, American University in Cairo

Hatem Alzahrani, Georgetown University

Hasan Alsulami, Georgetown University

Elliott Colla, Georgetown University

Poetry lecture with Professor Nasser Nasser Athamneh

Please join us for a poetry a lecture, buffet lunch and reception 12:00-2:00 pm Wednesday, 7 September in ICC 462. The lecture will be given in Arabic.

Arabic Abstract

Poetry Texts


by Dr. Naser Yousef al-Hassan Athamneh, Professor of English

Yarmouk University, Irbid, Jordan

Muzaffar al-Nawwab (1934-2013) is a contemporary Iraqi poet. His poetry proves him to be a champion par excellence of Arab political opposition. While his poems reflect an unusual capacity for oscillating within the same poem between the themes of love/women, Sufism, philosophical reflection, and politics, staunch and uncompromising political opposition to present-day Arab regimes and political elites remains the major theme of his poetry.

One major device al-Nawwab employs to promote his ideology and assert his political stance is intertextuality. This becomes evident when we notice how replete his poems are with references to cultural landmarks from the Arab-Muslim tradition and heritage, together with biblical references and, to a lesser extent, references to contemporary revolutionary figures. By manipulating such references and using them as contexts for the themes and characters of his poems, al-Nawwab succeeds in accentuating the impotence and futility that he systematically and unequivocally associates with present-day Arab regimes and political systems. By the same token, he stresses the dire need for political awareness and uncompromising struggle on the part of Arab people, whom he characteristically pictures as exploited and oppressed. Indeed, al-Nawwab evokes the past relentlessly to incite revolution and rebellion against Arab regimes and the political status quo throughout the Arab World. 

The lecture will start with a brief introductory note and biographical sketch of Muzaffar al-Nawwab, followed by reading aloud of some samples of his poetry, and leading to a discussion of and critical commentary on some samples of his poetry in which intertextuality serves as a means of assertion and foregrounding of the notion that the political status quo in the Arab World is no longer to be tolerated.


The Poetry of Qasim Haddad: Selected Poems and Translations

[The program will be in Arabic with the poems in both the Arabic original and English translation]

Selected, Translated and Introduced by AIS Graduate Students of:

Fall 2015 ARAB 670: Modern Arabic Poetry: Poetry and Translation

Hasan al-Sulami

Fuad Saleh

Miguel Merino

Hatem al-Zahrani

With music provided by AIS PhD student: Nicholas Mangialardi

When: Tuesday, 8 December, 5:00-6:30 

Where: Poulton Hall, Room 230

**Refreshments will be provided!

Fall 2015 - Modern Arabic Poetry and Theory

Arabic Poetry Reading

Please join us for a poetry reading in Arabic & English with Bahraini Poet Qassim Haddad. The event will be held in the Baker Scholar Conference Room, Regents Hall, Room 550, 5th Floor, Date and time TBA.


2015 Colloquium - Arabic Poetry Colloquium

2014 Colloquium - al-Mutanabbi: a Poetic Journey

2014 Colloquium - Arabic Literature in the Contemporary Humanities Curriculum

Dunya Mikhail, reading from her new diwan (in arabic)

Dunya Mikhail was born in Iraq and is the author of The War Works Hard (New Directions, 2005), which was shortlisted for Griffin and named one of “Twenty-Five Books to Remem-ber from 2005” by the New York Public Library. Her Diary of A Wave Outside the Sea (New Directions, 2009) won the 2010 Arab American Book Award. Mikhail has six poetry books in Arabic; the most recent one is The Iraqi Nights (Mesopotamia Press, Baghdad, 2013). In 2001, she was awarded the United Nations Human Rights Award for Freedom of Writing. In 2013, she was named a Kresge fellow for literary arts.

When: March 28th, 12:30 - 2:00 pm

Where: ICC 450

A Public Reading in Arabic with Novelist Hoda Barakat (in arabic)

For more than two decades, acclaimed Leb-anese writer Hoda Barakat has pushed the boundaries of Arabic fiction. She is the au-thor of al-Hajar al-dahik (1990), Ahl al-hawa (1994), and Harith al-miyah (2001), novels which narrate the violence, resolve and beauty of modern Lebanese society in remarkably daring ways. She was awarded the prestigious al-Naqid Prize for her first novel and the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature for her third. Barakat will read from her latest novel, Malkut hadhihi al-ard and discuss her current work.

When: October 25th, 12:30 - 2:00 pm

Where: Mortara Center Conference Room

A Public Reading in Arabic by Hamdy El-Gazzar (in arabic)

Hamdy El-Gazzar is one of Egypt's leading writers and one of the 39 young Arab writers included in the Beirut 39 Project. His first novel, Sihr Aswad (Dar Merit, 2005) won the prestigious Sawaris Award, and was subsequently translated by Humphrey Davies (Black Magic, AUC Press, 2007). His second novel, Ladhdhat Sirriyya (Secret Pleasures) was published by Dar al-Dar in 2008. He will be reading from his newest work, al-Halimun fi-thawra (The Revolution Dreamers).

When: October 15th, 5:00 - 6:30 pm

Where: CCAS Boardroom, ICC 241


2014 Colloquium - Workshops in Arabic Prosody

2013 Colloquium - Sonallah Ibrahim: Midans of the Self


2011 Colloquium - Tents in the Desert 

Maisa Khawaja Lecture in Arabic: وعي الذات و تناول المحرمات  في الرواية النسائية السعودية

Akiko M. Sumi Lecture - The Motif of the Mirror and Beauty

The Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies is pleased to present

The Motif of the Mirror and Beauty:
The Frame Tale of The 101 Nights and a Chinese Buddhist Tale from The Taisho Shinshu Daizokyo
A Lecture by Akiko M. Sumi
Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 12:00pm, in Poulton 230

Arabic Exceptionalism and the Dangers of Metonymic Thinking

Please join us for a lecture in memory of Wallace Erwin. This talk will be held on Tuesday, November 13, 3:00pm, in ICC 241.

Jonathan Owens (University of Bayreuth) presents the Wallace Erwin Memorial Lecture:

"Arabic Exceptionalism and the Dangers of Metonymic Thinking"

Jonathan Owens is a Professor of Arabic Linguistics at the University of Bayreuth in Bayreuth, Germany. between 2005-2008 he was Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Advanced Study of Language, University of Maryland. Starting his linguistics career with a SOAS PhD on Creole Arabic Nubi of East Africa, he has taught and conducted research at universities in Libya (Garyounis), Nigeria (Maiduguri), and Jordan (Yarmouk). His books include A Grammar of Libyan Arabic (Harrassowitz, 1984), A Short Reference Grammar of Nigerian Arabic (Harrassowitz, 1993), The Foundations of Grammar: an Introduction to Medieval Arabic Grammatical Theory (Benjamins, 1988), Arabic as a Minority Language (ed. Mouton, 2000), and A Linguistic History of Arabic (OUP, 2006/2009). He is currently editing The Oxford Handbook of Arabic Linguistics.

Wallace M. Erwin (BA Princeton, MA and PhD Georgetown) was a distinguished scholar of Arabic linguistics, specializing in dialectology. He chaired the Arabic department at Georgetown for 17 years (1964-1981) and published two pioneering studies on Iraqi Arabic that are still unsurpassed: A Short Reference Grammar of Iraqi Arabic (1969) and Basic Course in Iraqi Arabic (1970) (both Georgetown University Press; both reprinted 2004). He regularly taught first and second year intensive Arabic, as well as graduate courses in Arabic structure and Arabic dialectology. In addition to his interests in diglossia, variation and dialectology, he was a co-author, along with Peter Abboud and Ernest McCarus, of the first audiolingual textbook series for teaching Modern Standard Arabic, Elementary Modern Standard Arabic (EMSA) (Cambridge University Press).

As chairman of the Arabic Department, Wally pioneered the development of the Arabic curriculum and teaching methodology at Georgetown to the point where the department led most other American universities in size, quality, and effectiveness at the undergraduate and graduate levels. His own approach to teaching was energetic, demanding, systematic, and yet deeply humanistic, making a lasting impression on his students. He served on the Executive Board of the American Association of Teachers of Arabic and was elected its president in 1972. He retired in 1986.

Poetry Reading with Ghassan Zaqtan & Fady Joudah

Like a Straw Bird it Follows Me
Bilingual Poetry Reading by Ghassan Zaqtan & Fady Joudah

Friday, October 19, 12:00pm - 2:00pm
Lannan Center (New North 408), Georgetown University

The Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies and the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice invite you to a reading of Palestinian poetry with Ghassan Zaqtan, one of the leading poets of the Arab world. Zaqtan will share his most recent collection of work, translated by Fady Joudah and moderated by Professor Dima Ayoub and Professor Mark McMorris.

In this inspired translation of Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me, Ghassan Zaqtan's tenth and most recent poetry collection, Fady Joudah brings to English-language readers the best work by one of the most important and original Palestinian poets of our time. With these poems Zaqtan enters new terrain, illuminating the vision of what Arabic poetry in general, and Palestinian poetry in particular, are capable of. Departing from the lush aesthetics of such celebrated predecessors as Mahmoud Darwish and Adonis, Zaqtan's daily, delicate narrative, whirling catalog, and at times austere aesthetics represent a new trajectory, a significant leap for young Arabic poets today.

"Ghassan Zaqtan's poems, in their constant unfolding invite us to enter them, exit them, map and un-map them, code and decode them, fill them up and empty them, with the living and non-living, the animate and inanimate, towards a true freedom."

Ghassan Zaqtan is a Palestinian poet and author of ten collections of poetry. He is also a novelist, editor, and filmmaker. He was born in Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, and has lived in Jordan, Beirut, Damascus, and Tunis. He returned to Palestine in 1994 and now lives in Ramallah.

Fady Joudah is an award-winning poet and translator. Among his translations are two poetry collections by Mahmoud Darwish, If I Were Another and The Butterfly's Burden.
For more information, please see the Lannan Center website.


Join us for a poetry reading and book signing of Like a Straw Bird it Follows Me with esteemed poet Fady Joudah followed by a Q&A with the author and reception.
This event will be in Arabic with an English translation.
Date: 12 April 2012
Time: 8:00 pm
Location: ICC 241 (CCAS Boardroom)