Program in Comparative Literature

Katie Logan

Katie Logan



Contemporary Arabic literature; literatures of travel, exile, loss and memory




C L 323 • Arab Literary Travels

32884 • Spring 2016
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm PAR 302
(also listed as E 324, MES 342, WGS 340)

Course Description

This course introduces students to modern Arabic and Arab-Anglophone literature through vocabularies of travel: exile, estrangement, study abroad, immigration, diaspora, return, displacement, and dispossession.

In class, students will balance artistic production influenced by travel with the real conditions of poverty, loss, and violence that impact contemporary immigrants and refugees. In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, literature has emerged from Palestinian dispossession in 1948 and 1967, oil compound development in the Gulf, the Lebanese Civil War, decolonization efforts in North Africa and the Middle East, and, more recently, continued refugee crises in Syria, Iraq, and Palestine. This same period has produced thinkers and artists like Edward Said, Leila Ahmed, Mahmoud Darwish, and Miral al-Tahawi, all of whom understand movement, travel, and even exile or estrangement to be essential components of their creative endeavors. As students explore texts from these authors and events, they will learn to focus particularly on the class, gender, and ethnic disparities that inform different narratives’ relationship to travel.

We’ll use the travel narrative framework to explore Arabic literature’s encounter with foreign spaces and literatures, including those colored by colonial legacies and histories of conflict. Ultimately, students in this class will discover a breadth of modern Arabic literature while learning to situate that literature in a global context that considers critically the types of movement bringing people, places, and ideas into contact.

Texts will be available in English translation; language students may access the texts in Arabic.


Leila Ahmed, A Border Passage: From Cairo to America: A Woman’s Journey (1999) Sara Ahmed, “Home and Away” (1999) James Clifford, Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century (selections; 1997) Mahmoud Darwish, Memory for Forgetfulness (Palestinian-Lebanese prose poetry; 1987)

and “Counterpoint (For Edward W. Said)” Moneera al-Ghadeer, Desert Voices: Bedouin Women’s Poetry in Saudi Arabia (selections; 2009) Annemarie Jacir, When I Saw You (Palestinian-American film; 2013)

Ghassan Kanafani, “Return to Haifa” (Palestinian short story; 1970) ‘Abd al-Rahman Munif, Cities of Salt (Gulf novel; 1984) Edward Said, “Reflections on Exile” (2000) Tayeb Salih, Season of Migration to the North (Sudan; 1966)

Elia Suleiman, The Time that Remains (Palestinian film; 2009) Miral al-Tahawi, Brooklyn Heights (Egyptian-American; 2010) 

Curriculum Vitae

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