Research Agenda

Specializing in the western Mediterranean region, I combine comparative methods to study Arabic literature from all historical periods. My work draws on bodies of knowledge across literary studies, Arabic studies, linguistics, anthropology, and folklore. Literary scholars have historically discounted the oral and the popular to the detriment of our understanding of world literature. I observe audiences, paying attention to social and cultural clues to determine which artistic traditions appeal to which audiences. In many countries, most people do not habitually read novels for pleasure. My work addresses such cultural differences by focusing on the common denominators of artistic creation and expression throughout literary and cultural forms.

  • Dissertation | Available from here. Article summarizing theoretical argument forthcoming in a Special Issue of the Journal of North African Studies.  I argue that of all the genres of music in Morocco, malḥūn (a type of sung poetry) is uniquely situated to bridge the most differences in Moroccan society: regions, generations, types of education, and political perspectives. My study investigates the poetry of malḥūn, both the lyrics and the aesthetics. This artistic tradition shows how a community may react to modernity, including colonialism / imperialism and the harshness of the twentieth century, the challenges of nationhood and the dangers of dictatorship, as well as the uncertainties of religious and ethnic identity. This artistic language provided, and continues to provide, answers and meaning to North Africans in the midst of these concerns.
  • I am compiling the sole anthology of colloquial Moroccan malhun poetry translated into English. Other contributors are welcome! Contact me if interested.
  • I am working on a reference article on all the words in Arabic for ‘love’ and related concepts (their meanings and uses in literature and society).


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