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“But then my Servant who I had intended to take down with me, deceiv’d me.”

Reading Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year is a depressing experience, even under the best of circumstances. But read under quarantine, with healthcare and economic systems in collapse and hundreds of thousands of deaths expected by summer, the novel assumes a degree of realism that feels positively oppressive. Perhaps this feeling is rooted …

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Literary Criticism

Graphic Novels, Web Comics, and New Narrative Forms in the Middle East and North Africa

In his introduction to American graphic novelist Joe Sacco’s comic-book series Palestine, Edward Said recalls how “liberated and subversive” he felt upon first encountering the comics medium, with its extravagant illustrations and fantastic, unconstrained narratives of conflict and adventure (i). He attributes his initial enthusiasm to adolescence, but he also admits how, after reading Sacco’s …

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News & Notes

Re-locating Middle East Studies Conference Roundup

Over three beautiful early-summer days on the edge of the Arabian Gulf, the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES) joined with the American University in Dubai’s Middle Eastern Studies Program to host the outstanding “Re-Locating Middle East Studies: New Geographies of Discourse” conference. With eight scholarly panels, featuring over thirty papers, and keynote addresses …

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News & Notes

Rethinking Democracy in Literature, Language and Culture Conference Program

The Hellenic Association for the Study of English’s “Rethinking Democracy in Literature, Language & Culture” conference is just two weeks off, and the full program is now available at the conference website, as are abstracts and related events. With panels ranging from “Language and Democratic Community Building” to “Democratic Utopias/Dystopias” to “Human Rights in Literature and …

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News & Notes

Relocating Middle East Studies: New Geographies of Discourse

Since arriving in Dubai, I have taken a fairly aggressive approach to reading non-Western literature, particularly contemporary Middle Eastern and South Asian fiction and long-form journalism. I’ve also been looking at Middle Eastern graphic novels in preparation for the Graphic Novel seminar I’m teaching in the Fall, and I continue to discover many wonderful Middle …

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