Summary of the research project
Projected book chapters will include: (1) A reading of the classic accounts of Arabic accent, resulting from the imposition of Arabic on local populations through political conquest from the 7th century onwards. (2) An analysis of accent in 19th century Arabic plays. (3). The roles of Arabic accents in the formation of Arab nationalist discourses, from the 1940 to the 1960s. (4) Arab writings about the West: the absence of accent in travel writings and the present of accent in memoirs, in relation to issues of authority and diasporic experience. (5) The gift of accent: quarrelling with words, as one struggles to overcome the inadequacy of his or her voice, leading to states of spiritual enlightenment.
Iman Mersal is an Egyptian poet, essayist, translator and literary scholar, and Professor of Arabic Language and Literature at the University of Alberta, Canada. She is the author of five books of Arabic poetry, selections from which have been translated into numerous languages. In English translation, her poems have appeared in Parnassus, Paris Review, The Nation, American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review and Michigan Quarterly Review. A selection of Mersal’s poetry, entitled These Are Not Oranges, My Love, translated by the poet Khaled Mattawa, was published in 2008 (Sheep Meadow Press). Her most recent publications include an Arabic translation of Charles Simic’s memoir, A Fly in the Soup (Al Kotob Khan, 2016), and Kayfa Talta’im: ‘An al-Umuma wa Ashbahiha (Kayfa Ta and Mophradat, 2017), translated into English by Robin Moger as Motherhood and its Ghosts (Kayfa Ta and Sternberg Press, 2018). Forthcoming: Fi Athar Enayat al- Zayyat (In the footsteps of Enayat al- Zayyat), Al Kotob Khan, November, 2019, Cairo.