My research interests revolve around modern Arabic literature and culture and comparative literature. My current research offers fresh readings of exilic cultural production in Arabic, English and Hebrew. I am interested in how texts of exile and displacement offer literary spaces of exploration and contestation, and work out issues of belonging, self-determination, gender and sexuality, and self-expression. At NYU, I often serve as a reader and supervisor for both undergraduate and graduate research projects on Arabic cultural production and literary studies. In the field of foreign-language pedagogy, I am interested in curricular design, the integration of realia into language pedagogy and the training of Arabic faculty in strategies of communicative, learner-centered, and proficiency-based instruction.
At NYU, I teach Arabic language, literature and culture. The Arabic classroom is a space where all of us work together to build and refine all language skills while acquiring cultural knowledge. We work in pairs, groups and teams to learn about Arab cultures, each other and to express ourselves in Arabic; the aim is to create a supportive, rewarding and stimulating atmosphere in order to build a solid foundation in Modern Standard Arabic, without neglecting the everyday, spoken register. Together, we find that each day is a labor of love, and that the embroidered expanse of Arabic is its constant reward.
In my literature seminars, we read significant works from modern and contemporary Arabic literary traditions, both in English translation and in tandem with the original Arabic texts. Our rallying point in all of our readings is the formal elements of the text, such as theme, plot, style and character. As we discuss these elements, we investigate how these works represent modern and contemporary Arab experience, including issues of modernity and tradition, gender and sexuality, displacement, migration and exile, oppression and resistance, as well as shifting notions of the nation. We consider a variety of perspectives and critical interventions; at all times, we consider how literature is, means and does.
My translations include works by both established authors and the latest generations of authors writing in Arabic. My approaches to designing and leading literary seminars draw both on my scholarly research and my work in translation.