Raffael Scheck


Winter Weekend

Immerse yourself in a classic work of literature.


Anne Schlitt
Assistant Director
(207) 773-5051


Winter Weekend 2017

Join us for Naguib Mahfouz's "Palace Walk"

March 10 - 11, 2017 in Kresge Auditorium at Bowdoin College
Friday: Program begins at 5:00 p.m.
Saturday: Program begins at 9:00 a.m.

Join the MHC for its 20th annual Winter Weekend, March 10-11, 2017 at Bowdoin College. Join other literary enthusiasts for a deep dive into this classic novel, led by noted scholars and critics.

Palace Walk book cover

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.

Program Details

Dinner at Winter Weekend

Photo by Dan D’Ippolito

The $245 registration fee includes:

  • A copy of the book
  • Background readings
  • A cocktail reception on Friday
  • Dinner on Friday (a gastronomic taste of the time and culture reflected in the chosen text)
  • A musical performance on Friday after dinner (related to the chosen text’s time period and ethos)
  • Coffee and continental breakfast on Saturday
  • Lunch on Saturday
  • CEUs for teachers
Winter Weekend 2016-photo by Dan D'Ippolito-153

Photo by Dan D’Ippolito

The program begins at 5 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium on Friday, March 10 and continues at 9:00 a.m. Saturday until mid-afternoon.

A limited number of scholarships are available for teachers, librarians, and students. Please contact Karen Myrick for information.

Lodging Information

The Brunswick Inn, 165 Park Row, Brunswick, offers Winter Weekend participants a special 20 % off two-night rate, which includes a full hot breakfast. To get the special rate, please call the Inn directly at 207-729-4914 (or toll free at 1-800-299-4914) and ask for the Maine Humanities Council Winter Weekend rate.

The Brunswick Hotel & Tavern, 4 Noble Street, Brunswick, offers a reduced rate of $139 per night (plus tax; breakfast not included) to Winter Weekend participants. For the special rate, please call the hotel directly at 207-837-6565 and ask for the Maine Humanities Council’s Winter Weekend rate.


A map of the Bowdoin campus can be found on the Bowdoin website. The program will be held in Kresge Auditorium, on the lower level of the Visual Arts Building. Meals will be taken at Thorne Dining Hall.

How to Receive CEUs

CEUs are available through the University of Southern Maine’s Professional Development Program. Learn more here.


Winter Weekend is now sold out. Please call Karen at 773-5051 to add your name to the waiting list; we are often able to accommodate names from that list as we get closer to the event.


  • As I look at my shelf of 13 books from the Winter Weekends, I feel so thankful that MHC has kept my brain cogs meshing.

    -Winter Weekend participant

  • The keynote speaker, the Saturday morning lectures, the high moral seriousness of the choice; the speakers and readings converted me from boredom and distraction to appreciation and curiosity.

    -Winter Weekend participant

  • As the landscape becomes muddy and dreary, Winter Weekend provides an exciting escape to another world.

    -Winter Weekend participant

  • What a luxury to indulge, hour after hour, in talking about books.

    -Winter Weekend participant

  • You are doing a fabulous job. It is a highlight of our winter!

    -Winter Weekend participant

Funded by:

UNE Center for Global Humanities

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