Proxidistant reading: Toward a critical pedagogy of the nahḍah in US comparative literary studies

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter focuses on both the theoretical importance and the practical experience of teaching the dynamics of early Arab literary modernity to non-specialist audiences–undergraduate and graduate–in comparative literature. Two problems emerge in this context: first, the self-Orientalism of nahḍah texts, which often uphold a thesis of post-Ottoman "decline" and post-European "awakening" and thus reinforce Orientalist views of Arab-Islamic culture in a post-9/11 era of anti-Arab and Islamophobic sentiment; and second, a relative dearth of high-quality, in-print, and affordable English translations. Indeed, throughout late nineteenth- and especially early twentieth-century Arabic literary history and criticism, the scholar of the nahḍah encounters Arab self-murder. That the term nahḍah also translates as "awakening" compounds its translational instability. Certainly "awakening" skirts the direct comparison to European history that "renaissance" – a periodization freighted with European historical assumptions and cultural politics – implies.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationArabic Literature for the Classroom
Subtitle of host publicationTeaching Methods, Theories, Themes and Texts
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781315451640
ISBN (Print)9781138211964
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


Dive into the research topics of 'Proxidistant reading: Toward a critical pedagogy of the nahḍah in US comparative literary studies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this