Mi 29 Jun 2022 | 17:00–18:30

Approaching the Literary 1980s in the Maghreb and Middle East: Connections, Comparisons, Periodizations

Anne-Marie McManus (SYRASP / EUME Fellow) and Amir Moosavi (Rutgers U / EUME Fellow 2016/17), Discussant: Samah Selim (Rutgers U-New Brunswick / EUME), Chair: Friederike Pannewick (Philipps-Universität Marburg / EUME)

Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

Mohamed Melehi (1936–2020). Composition, 1978, cellulosic cutting on panel, 110 x 100 cm. Image courtesy of Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah.
Mohamed Melehi (1936–2020). Composition, 1978, cellulosic cutting on panel, 110 x 100 cm. Image courtesy of Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah.

This event is a cooperation between the Merian Centre for Advanced Studies in the Maghreb (MECAM) and Europe in the Middle East – The Middle East in Europe (EUME). It is part of the workshop “The Literary 1980s in the Middle East and North Africa: Towards a Transregional History of the Present”, June 29 to July 1, 2022, Berlin.



Anne-Marie McManus (Forum Transregionale Studien / SYRASP / EUME Fellow)
»Transregionalism and Arabic Novels: On Literary Uses of History in the 1980s«

This talk approaches the 1980s through a comparative frame for the Arabic novel, which it treats as transregional in two senses: on one hand, a literary work that imagines, or maps, transregional (“Arab”) space between the Maghreb and Iraq, and on the other hand, a literary work that can successfully circulate and be received across this space. Through readings of novels by Haydar Haydar and Rachid Boudjedra, the talk will show that transregional space was intimately entangled with the dream of a progressive, revolutionary, and transregional history as it was articulated first in the anti-colonial era and subsequently claimed by Arab socialist states in Algeria, Iraq, and Syria. By drawing a comparison across techniques of repetition in works by Haydar and Boudjedra, the talk asks what work remained for the novel as form when it critically reflected, in the 1980s, on the demise of this vision of history.

Anne-Marie McManus is a comparative literary scholar of Arabic, English, and French literatures in the 20th and 21st century. She received her PhD in Comparative Literature from Yale University. She has published essays on poetics, comparative and theoretical methods, and contemporary Arabic literatures and cultures in venues such as Critical Inquiry (2021), The Cambridge History of World Literature, Books & Ideas, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Journal of World Literature, and Expressions Maghrébines. Her first book – Of Other Languages, under contract at Northwestern UP – tracks theories and practices of linguistic clarity, ambiguity, and emotion that circled the Algerian War of Independence during the decades of decolonization between the Maghreb and Mashreq. Her work has been supported by the Mellon Foundation, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, NYU Abu Dhabi, and the European Research Council (ERC). She currently oversees the ERC-funded project SYRASP at the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin.


Amir Moosavi (Rutgers University-Newark / EUME Fellow 2016/17)
»War and Relation: Reading the 1980s across the War Literatures of Iran and Lebanon«

This talk proposes a comparative framework for reading Arabic and Persian literatures of the 1980s in the context of war. Using examples from Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon, and informed by theories of world literature and Shu-mei Shih’s notion of relational comparison, it asks how war fiction from Southwest Asia in the 1980s can be used to periodize a regional literature. In doing so, it offers a comparative reading of Arabic and Persian literatures against the backdrop of the final years of the Cold War, regional wars, the rise of political Islam and the decline of leftist political movements across the region.

Amir Moosavi’s research and teaching interests cover modern Arabic and Persian literatures and the cultural history of Southwest Asia, with an emphasis on Iran, Iraq, and the Levant. With ACLS and NEH support, he is currently completing a book titled Dust That Never Settled: Afterlives of the Iran-Iraq War in Arabic and Persian Literatures. The book argues for the expansion of comparative literary studies across the Arabic and Persian linguistic spheres based on the common experience of the Iran-Iraq war and the various responses of writers to it since 1980.


The event will consist of an on-site and a virtual component. Space for on-site participation is limited. Please register in advance via eume(at) to attend on site or virtually.

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