Winter Weekend 2017

Naguib Mahfouz's Palace Walk

Back to Winter Weekend

March 10 & 11, 2017

In Palace Walk, Naguib Mahfouz gives Arab literature a Dickensian portrait of a patriarch: 45-year-old Al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd Al-Jawad, father and husband, despot and lecher, a man who demands strict adherence to the tenets of Islam inside his home, though he is indiscreet and unfaithful to a great many of them outside. The story chronicles the awakening of his family—including his wife Amina, who, by her husband’s command, has not left her house in 25 years, even to visit the mosque down the street; and two of his sons, one a patriot and the other a scholar, both against his wishes—against the backdrop of Egypt’s awakening. It is a story, too, of the shifting of society, religion, and roles in Egypt in the period leading up to the Egyptian Revolution of 1919.



Khaled FahmyKhaled Fahmy, Professor of History, The American University in Cairo; Visiting Professor in Modern Middle Eastern History at Harvard University

Khaled Fahmy is a Professor of History at the American University in Cairo. With a BA in Economics, an MA in Political Science from AUC and a DPhil in History from the University of Oxford, Fahmy taught for five years at Princeton University, then for eleven years at New York University before joining AUC in Sept 2010. He is currently the Shawwaf Visiting Professor in Modern Middle Eastern History at Harvard University. His research interests lie in the social and cultural history of modern Egypt. Specifically, he has been conducting research in the Egyptian National Archives for the past twenty years on such diverse topics as the history of law (Islamic shari’a), medicine and public hygiene. He has published a book on the social history of the Egyptian army in the first half of the 19th century (All the Pasha’s Men: Mehmed Ali, His Army and the Making of Modern Egypt—Cambridge University Press, 1997), a biography on Mehmed Ali (Mehmed Ali: From Ottoman Governor to Ruler of Egypt—Oneworld Publications, 2008), and a collection of articles on the history of law and medicine in 19th-century Egypt (The Body and Modernity—in Arabic, 2004). He is currently finishing a manuscript on the social and cultural history of Egypt in the 19th century as well as an edited book on the history of Egyptian law from the Mamluks to the present. Since the outbreak of the January 25 Revolution, he has been a regular contributor to Egyptian and international media.

Elizabeth HoltElizabeth Holt, Assistant Professor of Arabic, Bard College

At Bard since 2008, Elizabeth Holt is Assistant Professor of Arabic in the Division of Languages and Literature.  Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. in Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures and Comparative Literature from Columbia University, and a B.A. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University.  Her teaching interests include nineteenth- and twentieth-century Arabic literature (especially the novel), the Arabic language, the Cold War, Arab intellectual thought, popular storytelling (especially A Thousand and One Nights), history of the book, translation, and Orientalism.

Elizabeth’s first book, Fictitious Capital: Silk, Cotton, and the Rise of the Arabic Novel is forthcoming with Fordham University Press in 2017.  Elizabeth is in the midst of a second book project on how the Congress for Cultural Freedom, a CIA-founded and -funded cultural organization of the Cold War, shaped Arabic literature in an age of decolonization and Cold War. Elizabeth is also working on a new project –“Arabic at Sea”– on merchant capital, risk, and Arabic storytelling, drawing on recent theoretical work on the history of literature and capital in the longue duree, and the thalassological turn.

Articles, book chapters and reviews published or forthcoming in Comparative Literature; Middle Eastern Literatures; Teaching Arabic Literature; American University of Beirut: 150 Years; Journal of Arabic Literature; Arabic Literary Thresholds; Arab Studies Journal; and Dialectical Anthropology.  Contributing translator to the MLA anthology The Arab Renaissance: Anthology of Nahda Thought, Literature, and Language.   Elizabeth also serves as Associate Editor of the Journal of Arabic Literature.

In 2012, Elizabeth was a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at the American Research Center in Egypt (Cairo); and for the academic year 2015-16, she was a fellow of the Forum Transregionale Studien’s Europe in the Middle East // the Middle East in Europe program in Berlin.

Reza Jalali

Reza Jalali, Coordinator of Multicultural Student Affairs, University of Southern Maine

A Muslim scholar, educator, and writer from the Kurdish region of Iran, Reza Jalali has lived in Maine since 1985. In addition to coordinating multicultural student affairs at the University of Southern Maine, he also advises Muslim students at Bowdoin College. A writer and human rights activist, Jalali’s essays, short stories, and commentaries have appeared in local and international newspapers. He wrote the foreword to New Mainers (2009), a book on immigrant’s experiences in Maine, and his first children’s book, Moon Watchers, was published in  2010. His most recent work includes the 2013 book Homesick Mosque and Other Stories as well as the 2015 play The Poets and the Assassin, which offers historic and contemporary insights into the plight of women in Iran. Jalali’s forthcoming book, God Speaks in Many Accents, is about the religions that Maine’s immigrants have brought with them to their new home in the U.S.

Jalali has been featured in the National Public Radio’s nationally-acclaimed storytelling program, The Moth Radio Hour. In 2016, Reza was named as one of “50 Mainers Charting the State’s Future” by Maine Magazine.

Ali AhmidaAli Abdullatif Ahmida, Professor of Political Science, University of New England

Professor Ali Abdullatif Ahmida was born in Waddan, Libya and educated at Cairo University in Egypt and The University of Washington, Seattle.  He is the founding Chair (2000 – 2014) of the Department of Political Science at the University of New England, Biddeford, Maine, USA.  His areas of expertise are political theory, comparative politics, and historical sociology.  His scholarship is cross-cultural and focuses on power, agency and anti-colonial resistance in North Africa, especially in modern Libya.

Dr. Ahmida has published major articles in Italian Studies, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Arab Future, Third World Quarterly and the Arab Journal of International Studies.  He is also the author of The Making of Modern Libya: State Formation, Colonialization and Resistance, a book published by SUNY Press, 1994, 2009.  This book was translated into Arabic and has been published in a second edition by the Center of Arab Unity Studies, 1998, Beirut, Lebanon.  A third edition is due out in 2013.  He is the editor of Beyond Colonialism and Nationalism in the Maghrib: History, Culture and Politics, published by Palgrave Press in 2000.  An Arabic translation of the book was published by The Centre of Arab Unity Studies in 2014.