Marilyn L. Booth

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Iraq Chair in Arabic and Islamic Studies

Head, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (IMES)

Joint Director, Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World (CASAW)

University of Edinburgh

Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies tel +44 (0) 131 650-4181

19 George Square fax +44 (0) 131 650-6804

Edinburgh EH8 9LD

Scotland UK


1985 D.Phil., Modern Arabic Literature and Modern History of the Middle East, Oriental Studies Faculty and Middle East Centre, University of Oxford (St. Antony's College).

Dissertation: ‘Egypt in its Own Words: Mahmud Bayram al Tunisi (1893 1961) and the Literature of Vernacular Expression (1919 1934)’. Thesis directors: Albert Hourani and Mustafa Badawi. Examiners: Pierre Cachia, Michael Gilsenan.

1980 Diploma, Center for Arabic Studies Abroad (CASA), American University in Cairo. Intensive advanced Modern Standard and Egyptian Arabic, June 1979 May 1980

1978 B.A., Summa Cum Laude, Harvard Radcliffe College of Harvard University.

Concentration: Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (Arabic), focus on history and literature of the modern Middle East. Honors thesis: ‘Mayy Ziyadah and the Feminist Perspective in Egypt, 1908 1932’.

1977 Diploma, Center for Arabic Studies Abroad (CASA), American University in Cairo. Intensive elementary Egyptian Arabic, June-Aug. 1979

Academic Positions and Employment History

Jan. 2009-

Iraq Chair in Arabic and Islamic Studies, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, University of Edinburgh

Sept. 2009-

Head, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, University of Edinburgh

Oct. 2010-

Joint Director, Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World (CASAW), Universities of Durham, Edinburgh, and Manchester


Director, Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (CSAMES), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Associate Professor, Program in Comparative and World Literature, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (zero-time appointments: Women’s and Gender Studies, African Studies, Liberal Arts and Sciences Administration)


Visiting Associate Professor, Program in Comparative and World Literature, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Visiting Associate Professor, Department of Comparative Literature, Brown University


Visiting Lecturer, Program in Comparative Literature, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Visiting Lecturer, American University in Cairo, Arabic Language Institute; Center for Arabic Studies


Administrative Officer, Project HOPE, Cairo, Egypt (in-country representative, administrator; liaison with US and Egyptian officials)


Joanna Randall-McIver Junior Research Fellow, St. Hugh's College (Oxford)

Postdoctoral Research Fellowships

2005 Mellon Faculty Fellowship, University of Illinois

2005 Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities Research Fellowship (declined)

1998 Fulbright Senior Scholar Postdoctoral Fellowship (1998-99, Cairo)

1998 American Research Center in Egypt/National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (declined)

1994 National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellowship (1995-96, Illinois/Cairo)

1990 Middle East Research Competition Fellowship, Ford Foundation (Cairo)

1988 Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellowship, Islamic Civilization Research Program

1988 American Council of Learned Societies Postdoctoral Fellowship for Recent Recipients of the Ph.D.

1986 American Research Center in Egypt/NEH Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

1983 Joanna Randall McIver Junior Research Fellowship, University of Oxford (St. Hugh's College), 1983 85 (postdoctoral research, awarded before completion of the DPhil)

Other Fellowships, Grants, and Honors
2008 Banff International Literary Translation Centre, Alberta, Canada; residency fellowship, June-July 2008; funded by Power Corporation of Canada Scholarships

2006 Banff International Literary Translation Centre, Alberta, Canada; residency fellowship, June-July 2006

1994 National Endowment for the Humanities Translation Grant (1996-97, Illinois)

1994, 1999, 2001 University of Illinois Research Board Grants

1985 British Academy Faculty Personal Research Grant

1984 Watson Barbinder Fund Research/Travel Grant, St. Hugh's College, University of Oxford

1981 Middle East Graduate Studies Committee (University of Oxford) Research Grant

1979 Center for Arabic Study Abroad Fellowship (full year)

1978 Marshall Scholarship; held at St. Antony's College, University of Oxford, 1978 79, 1980-82

1978 National Phi Beta Kappa Honors Society (Radcliffe College chapter)

1977 Center for Arabic Study Abroad Fellowship (summer)

1977 Radcliffe College Senior Honors Thesis Research Grant

1975 Jacob Wendell Memorial Scholarship, Harvard University

1973 National Merit Scholarship

Prizes and Teaching Recognitions
2010, 2012 Nominated for EUSA Teaching Award, University of Edinburgh

2008 List of Teachers Rated Excellent by their Students, University of Illinois, Spring 2008, CWL 471 (with outstanding rating)

2007 Saif al-Ghobashi Banipal International Arabic Translation Award (runner-up)

2006 Incomplete List of Teachers Rated Excellent by their Students, University of Illinois, Spring 2006, CWL 205, CWL 471 (“incomplete” as not all instructors use evaluations)

1994 University of Arkansas Press Arabic Literature Translation Prize

1981 Assoc. of American Teachers of Arabic, First Annual Translation Competition, First Prize

External Institutional Grants

  • Fulbright Direct Access to the Muslim World Grant (2005-06 cycle) to bring writer Sahar Tawfiq to UIUC for 5 weeks, March-April 2006

  • PI, Social Science Research Council/Carnegie Foundation NRC outreach grant, Academia in the Public Sphere: Islam and Muslims in World Contexts, 2008 ($50,000). Joint application from the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and the Center for Global Studies, UIUC

  • PI/Applicant, Iran Heritage Foundation, for matching funds, IHF Persian Instructor, 3-year post, University of Edinburgh, 2009 (approx GBP 43,500)

  • Co-PI, Islamic Studies Network (UK), Project funding for “Accessing Muslim Lives: Translating and Digitalising Autobiographical Writings for Teaching and Learning.” GBP 3000. With Dr. Siobhan Lambert-Hurley (Loughborough), 2010

  • PI and Joint Director, Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World, Phase II AHRC grant, approx. GBP 295,000, 2012.

Research and Teaching Interests

  • early feminisms and nationalist/Islamic discourses in the Arab world, Iran, and Turkey

  • emergence of Arabic fiction in the 19th century and its relation to gender activisms

  • more generally, feminisms and Arabic fiction

  • auto/biography in Arabophone and Francophone Middle East/North Africa (premodern and modern), and theorizing auto/biography

  • literature and politics of Arabic colloquials

  • literary translation—theory and practice

  • femininities and masculinities in Arabic literature

  • literature, censorship and incarceration

  • history of Arabic periodicals, especially the satirical press and the women’s press

  • visual and written caricature in Arabic periodicals

  • generally, cultural history of 19th-20th century Arab societies, especially the emergence of print culture

  • book and publishing history, the formation of readerships and discourses on reading

Current Research Projects

  • a monograph on Zaynab Fawwaz (c1850-1914) as a multifaceted commentator on the politics of gender and nation in late-nineteenth-century Egypt, contextualized within debates on gender among Arab intelligentsias in the 1880s-90s

  • a monograph on autobiographical practices amongst Arab women, 1880s-1930s

  • ongoing research on colloquial poetry, satirical prose, and caricature in the Egyptian press, 1880s-1920

  • ongoing research on female readership, translation, and discourses of publishing, Egypt 1880-1930 in a broader Middle East/South Asia context

  • ongoing research (including practice-based and activist-oriented research) on contemporary practices of Arabic literary translation, especially first-author/second-author [translator] interactions and the politics of publishing and marketing


Books (see also Translations, below)
May Her Likes Be Multiplied: Biography and Gender Politics in Egypt. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2001.

Translated into Arabic as: Shahirat al-nisa’: Adab al-tarajim wa-siyasiyyat al-naw’ fi Misr. Trans. Sahar Tawfiq. Cairo: Al-Markaz al-qawmi lil-tarjama (no. 1265), 2008.

Bayram al Tunisi's Egypt: Social Criticism and Narrative Strategies. Exeter: Ithaca Press (St. Antony's Middle East Monographs no. 22), 1990.

Translated into Arabic as: Ard al-habayib ba’ida: Rihla fi a’mal Mahmud Bayram al-Tunis. Trans. Sahar Tawfiq. Cairo: Al-Majlis al-a'la lil-thaqafa [Govt of Egypt], 2002.

Edited book and special journal issues
Women’s Autobiography in South Asia and the Middle East: Defining a Genre. Special Issue of the Journal of Women’s History, forthcoming 2013.

Harem Histories: Envisioning Places and Living Spaces. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2010.

(with Antoinette Burton) Critical Feminist Biography. Special Double Issue of the Journal of Women’s History, 21: 3 and 4 (2009).

Book Chapters
Insistent Localism in a Satiric World: Shaykh Naggar’s “Reed-Pipe” in the 1890s Cairene Press. Chapter 3 in Punch: A Transcultural Reading, edited by Hans Harder and Barbara Mittler (New York and Heidelberg: Springer Verlag, 2012).

What’s in a Name? Branding Punch in Cairo, 1908. Chapter 6 in Punch: A Transcultural Reading, edited by Hans Harder and Barbara Mittler (New York and Heidelberg: Springer Verlag, 2012).

Constructions of Syrian Identity in the Women’s Press in Egypt. In The Origins of Syrian Nationhood: Histories, pioneers and identity, edited by Adel Beshara. London: Routledge, 2011. Pp. 223-52.

Between the Harem and the Houseboat: Fallenness, Gendered Spaces and the Female National Subject in 1920s Egypt. In Harem Histories: Envisioning Places and Living Spaces, edited by Marilyn Booth. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2010. Pp. 342-73.

’A’isha ‘Ismat bint Isma’il Taymur. Essays in Arabic Literary Biography 1850-1950, edited by Roger Allen. Weisbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2010. Pp. 366-76.

Zaynab Fawwaz al-‘Amili. Essays in Arabic Literary Biography 1850-1950, edited by Roger Allen. Weisbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2010. Pp. 93-98.

Who Gets to Become the Liberal Subject? Ventriloquized Memoirs and the Individual in 1920s Egypt. Liberal Thought in the Eastern Mediterranean, Late 19th Century until the 1960s, edited by Christoph Schumann. Leiden: Brill, 2008. Pp. 267-92.

Babies or the Ballot? Women’s Constructions of the Great War in Egypt. The First World War as Remembered in the Countries of the Eastern Mediterranean, edited by Olaf Farschid, Manfred Kropp, and Stephan Dähne. Beirut and Wurzburg: Ergon Verlag, 2006. Beiruter Texte und Studien, Band 99. Pp. 75-90.

On Gender, History… and Fiction. Middle East Historiographies: Narrating the Twentieth Century, edited by Israel Gershoni, Amy Singer, and Y. Hakan Erdem. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2006. Pp. 211-41.

Fiction’s Imaginative Archive and the Newspaper’s Local Scandals: The Case of Nineteenth-Century Egypt. Archive Stories: Facts, Fictions, and the Writing of History, edited by Antoinette Burton. Durham: Duke University Press, 2006. Pp. 274-95.

Arab Adolescents Facing the Future: Enduring Ideals and Pressures for Change. The World’s Youth: Adolescence in Eight Regions of the Globe, ed. B. Bradford Brown, Reed W. Larson, and T. S. Saraswathi. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Pp. 207-42.

Infamous Women and Famous Wombs: Biography, Gender, and Islamist Concepts of Community in Contemporary Egypt. Auto/Biography and the Creation of Identity and Community in the Middle East from the Early Modern to the Modern Period, ed. Mary Ann Fay. New York: St. Martin’s, 2001. Pp. 51-70.

Amthila min al-bina’ al-adabi li-hayat Malak Hifni Nasif. Min ra’idat al-qarn al-‘ishrin: Shakhsiyyat wa-qadaya, ed. Huda al-Sadda. Cairo: Multaqa al-Mar’a wa-l-Dhakira, 2001. Pp. 61-71.

The Egyptian Lives of Jeanne d'Arc. Remaking Women: Feminism and Modernity in the Middle East, ed. Lila Abu Lughod. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998. Pp. 171-211.

Published in Arabic as al-Hayawat al-misriyya li-Jan dark, trans. ‘Abd al-Hakim Hassan, in al-Haraka al-nisa’iyya wa-al-tatawwur fi al-Sharq al-awsat, ed. Lila Abu-Lughod. Cairo: Al-Majlis al-a‘la lil-thaqafa, 1999. Pp. 189-234.

Poetry in the Vernacular. The Cambridge History of Arabic Literature: Modern Arabic Literature, ed. M. M. Badawi. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Pp. 463-82.

Essays in Refereed Journals
House as novel, novel as house: The global, the intimate, and the terrifying in contemporary Egyptian literature. Journal of Postcolonial Writing 47: 4 (Sept. 2011): 377-90.

The Muslim Woman as celebrity author and the politics of translating Arabic: Girls of Riyadh go on the road. Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies 6:3 (Fall 2010): 149-82.

Translator v. author (2007): Girls of Riyadh go to New York. Translation Studies 1:2 (July 2008): 197-211.

Exploding into the Seventies: Ahmad Fu’ad Nigm, Shaykh Imam, and the Aesthetics of a New Youth Politics. Cairo Papers in Social Science. Special Issue: Political and Social Protest in Egypt. 29: 2/3 (Summer/Fall 2006; published Cairo, 2009): 19-44.

From the Horse’s Rump and the Whorehouse Keyhole: Ventriloquized Memoirs as Political Voice in 1920s Egypt. Maghreb Review 32:2-3 (2007): 233-61.

Un/safe/ly at Home: Narratives of Sexual Coercion in 1920s Egypt. Gender and History 16:3 (November 2004): 744-68. Violence, Vulnerability and Embodiment, ed. Shani D’Cruze and Anupama Rao. Volume also published as Violence, Vulnerability and Embodiment: Gender and History (London: Blackwell, 2005).

Quietly Author(iz)ing Community: Biography as an Autobiography of Syrian Women in Egypt. L’Homme: Zeitschrift für Feministische Geschichtswissenschaft 14. Jg. Heft 2 (2003): 280-97. Leben texten.

Middle East Women’s and Gender History: State of a Field. Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History (e-journal) 4:1 (2003). New Directions in Women’s History.

’She Herself was the Ultimate Rule’: Arab Women’s Biographies of their Missionary Teachers, Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations 13:4 (October 2002): 427-48. Missionary Transformations, ed. Eleanor Doumato.

Beneath Lies the Rock: Contemporary Egyptian Poetry and the Common Tongue. World Literature Today 75:2 (Spring 2001): 257-66.

Woman in Islam: Men and the ‘Women’s Press’ in Turn-of-the-Century Egypt. International Journal of Middle East Studies 33:2 (2001): 171-201. Reprinted in Twentieth Century Literary Criticism, vol. 166, edited by Linda Pavlovski (New York: Gale Group, 2005).

May Her Likes Be Multiplied: 'Famous Women Biography and Gendered Prescription in Egypt, 1892-1935. Signs 22:4 (1997): 827-90.

Exemplary Lives, Feminist Aspirations: Zaynab Fawwaz and the Arabic Biographical Tradition. Journal of Arabic Literature 26:1-2 (March-June 1995), 120-46.

Colloquial Arabic Poetry, Politics, and the Press in Modern Egypt. International Journal of Middle East Studies 24:3 (1992): 419-440.

Biography and Feminist Rhetoric in Early Twentieth-Century Egypt: Mayy Ziyada's Studies of Three Women's Lives. Journal of Women's History 3:1 (Spring 1991): 38-61.

Force and Transitivity: Bayram al Tunisi and a Poetics of Anticolonialism. Alif 7 (1987): 75 111. Repr. in Arabic Literature: The View from Within, ed. Ferial Ghazoul and Barbara Harlow. Cairo: AUC Press, 1994. Pp. 149-76.

Invited Essays/Interviews/Contributions/Blogs
Short comment on women and the vote in Saudi Arabia. Edinburgh student Journal, Dec. 2011.

Contemporary Arabic Fiction: The Gender Politics of Popularity. Women = Books Blog, Wellesley Center for Women and Women’s Review of Books, posted 31 Aug. 2010.

Where is the Translator? Al-Ahram Weekly 897 (15-21 May 2008), Culture Page.

Response to Wail Hassan. (On his Ameen Rihani and the Rise of the Arab-American Novel.) American Literary History 20:1-2 (Spring/Summer 2008): 276-85. doi: 10.1093/alh/ajm045

The Words and Music of Political Opposition: Ahmad Fu'ad Nigm, Shaykh Imam, and post-1967 Activism in Egypt, The Middle East in London 4:2 (July-August 2007): 6-7.

Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006), An Egyptian Hero, The Illinois International Review no. 4 (Winter 2007): 15.

(in Arabic) Al-Tarikh al-fardi wa’l-tarikh al-jam’i: Kitabat al-mudhakkirat fi Misr 1920. (Individual and Collective History: Writing the Memoir in 1920s Egypt). Multaqa al-Qahira al-thalith lil-ibda’ al-riwa’i al-‘arabi 2005: al-Riwaya wa’l-tarikh (The Novel and History), 3 vols., Cairo: Supreme Council for Culture, 2008), vol. 2, 365-92.

Activism through Literature: Arguing Women’s Rights in the Middle East. Yale Review (January 2005): 1-26.

When I Met Saddam Hussein. In L’Irak de la crise au chaos, edited by Kenneth Brown. Editions Ibis Press/Mediterranees, 2004, pp. 282-85.

On Translation and Madness. Translation Review: Special Arabic Issue, No. 65 (2003): 47-53.

Reflections on Recent Autobiographical Writing in an Arab Feminist Vein. Middle East Women’s Studies Review 15:4/16:1 (Winter/Spring 2001): 8-11.

(In Arabic) Al-Mar'a fi al-Islam: al-Rijal wa’l-sihafa al-nisa’iyya fi Misr (Woman in Islam: Men and the Women's Press in Egypt). Abwab 24 (2000): 114-30; Mi'at ‘am ‘ala tahrir al-mar’a al-‘arabiyya. Cairo: al-Majlis al-a‘la lil-thaqafa, 2001, 1: 435-52.

Coming to Light: Nour Publishing House and the Production of Gendered Knowledge. The Middle East Women's Studies Review 12:1 (March 1997): 7-8.

Framing the Imaginary: Conditions of Literary Production in Egypt. Peuples Méditerranéens No. 77 (Oct. 1996): 131-53.

‘Ashara qassat misriyyat. Trans. Sh. Abu al-Naja. Ibda’ 11:1 (January 1993): 41-48.

Naguib Mahfouz: The Continuing Struggle (Interview). Index on Censorship 19:2 (February 1990): 22 25.

Mahfouz and the Arab Voice. Index on Censorship 18:1 (January 1989): 14 16.

Politiek op Rijm: Arabische volkstaalpoezie als politiek commentaar in Egypte. Trans. G. J. van Gelder. In De Pen en het Zwaard: Literatuur en Politiek in het Midden Oosten, ed. Geert Jan van Gelder and Ed de Moor. MOI 6. Muidenberg: Dick Coutinho, 1988. Pp. 75 88.

Writing To Be Heard: Colloquial Arabic Verse and the Press in Egypt (1877 1930). Newsletter of the American Research Center in Egypt 140 (Winter 1987/88): 1 6.

Prison, Gender, Praxis: Women's Prison Memoirs in Egypt and Elsewhere. Middle East Report (MERIP) 149 (November December1987): 35 41.

Sheikh Imam the Singer. Index on Censorship 14:3 (June 1985): 18 21. In Dutch, Artikel 19 (October 1985): 15 21.
Encyclopedia Articles
Zaynab Fawwaz, Encyclopedia of Islam 3d ed., Leiden: E.J. Brill, forthcoming 2012.

Zaynab Fawwaz, ‘A’isha Taymur, Malak Hifni Nasif. Dictionary of African Biography, edited by Henry Louis Gates and Emmanuel Akyeapong (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press), forthcoming 2012.

al-Zayyat, Latifa; al-Ghazali, Zaynab; ’Ashur, Radwa; Nawfal, Hind; Ra’uf ‘Izzat, Hiba; Fawwaz, Zaynab; Sha’rawi, Huda; Djebar, Assia; Abu Zayd, Layla; Idilbi, Ulfat; Stanhope, Hester; Egyptian Feminist Union. Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa, 2d. edition, edited by Philip Mattar. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2004.

Egyptian Women Writers in English Translation. Encyclopedia of Literary Translation, ed. Olive Classe. London and Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2000. 1:400-402.

Nawal el-Saadawi. Encyclopedia of World Literature in the 20th Century, 3d ed., ed. S. Serafin. Farmington Hills, MI: St. James Press, 1999. 4:5-6.

Al-Tunisi, Mahmud Bayram. Encyclopedia of Islam, fasc. 123-4: 639-40 (1999).

Fawwaz, Zaynab, pp. 225-226; Jahin, Salah, p. 406; Musa, Nabawiyya, pp. 552-53; Nabarawi, Sayza, p. 567; al-Qalamawi, Suhayr, pp. 626-27; al-Sa‘dawi, Nawal, pp. 671-72; Sha‘rawi, Huda, pp. 702-3; al-Taymuriyya, ‘A’isha ‘Ismat, pp. 759-60; al-Tunisi, Mahmud Bayram, pp. 781-82; al-Yaziji, Warda, p. 809; al-Zayyat, Latifa, p. 821; Ziyada, Mayy, pp. 822-23, in Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature, ed. P. Starkey and J.S. Meisami. London and New York: Routledge, 1998.

Major contributor (articles on Islam), The Oxford Reference Dictionary. Ed. J Hawkins. Oxford: Clarendon, 1986.

Translations, Arabic to English

Translated Books

The Penguin’s Song, by Hasan Daoud (Hasan Dawud, Ghina’ al-batrik, Beirut, 1998). (Under consideration by publishers.)
As Though She Were Sleeping, by Elias Khoury (Ilyas Khuri, Ka’annaha na’imatun, Beirut, 2007). Archipelago Books, 2012.

Girls of Riyadh, by Rajaa Alsanea (Raja’ ‘Abdallah al-Sani’, Banat al-Riyadh, London, 2005), New York: The Penguin Press, London: Fig Tree, 2007. At the author’s and press’s request, and after changes made to the translation without my input, this is listed as co-translated with the author.
The Loved Ones, by Alia Mamdouh (Al-Mahbubat, London and Beirut, 2003), Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2006; New York: The Feminist Press, 2007. Winner of the Naguib Mahfouz Prize.

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