American University of Beirut

Pick of the Month series: November Edition

As a continuation to the “Pick of the Month" news series highlighting special items from the library collections and launched in April​, the UL is happy to announce this month's pick: a book published by Cambridge University Press and edited by Drs. Sonja Mejcher-Atassi and Robert Myers (Eds.) (2021), entitled​ ​​​​"The theatre of Sa'dallah Wannous: A critical study of the Syrian playwright and public intellectual​". ​​​

This book ​​introduces Sa'dallah Wannous to a global readership and contributes to a better understanding of the Arab world through a focus on cultural production and theatre.

The book comprises 4 parts and 12 chapters. The below chapters from the book are by AUB faculty members including Drs. Mejcher-Atassi and Myers:

The book also contains two chapters (10 and 12) translated from Arabic by AUB faculty members R. Issa and R. Baalbaki respectively.

Summary of the book:

The Theatre of Sa'dallah Wannous is the first book in English to provide a clear sense of the significance and complexity of Wannous' life and work. It is unique in bringing cross-disciplinary scholarship on Wannous together and aligning it with cultural practice and memory by including contributions from leading academics as well as renowned cultural figures from the Arab world. This volume should be of interest to literary and theatre studies scholars, cultural historians, theatre practitioners and anyone who cares about contemporary theatre, Syria and the Arab world. Collectively, the contributions demonstrate the role of cultural production - especially dramatic literature - in providing a portrait of and shaping a culture in the throes of profound transformation.

Editors' biographies:

Sonja Mejcher-Atassi is Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature in the Department of English and an associated faculty in the Department of Arabic and Near Eastern Languages at the American University of Beirut. She is the recipient of the 2021 Humboldt Foundation's Reimar Lüst Research Award for International Scholarly and Cultural Exchange. In 2017– 18, she was an invited fellow in residence at the Wissenschaftskolleg (Institute for Advanced Study, Berlin). Her research centers on modern Arabic literature, writers' biographies and libraries, book culture, archival and museum studies, cultural history and memory, and aesthetics and politics. Her publications include Rafa Nasiri: Artist Books (2016; eds. with May Muzaffar), Reading across Modern Arabic Literature and Art (2012), Archives, Museums, and Collecting Practices in the Modern Arab World (2012; ed. with John Pedro Schwartz), Writing a “Tool for Change": 'Abd al-Rahman Munif Remembered (2007; ed.), and Geschichten über Geschichten: Erinnerung im Romanwerk von Elias Khoury (2001), in addition to numerous journal articles.

Robert Myers is Professor of English and Creative Writing at the American University of Beirut (AUB), Director of AUB's Alwaleed Center for American Studies (CASAR) and Co-Director of the Theater Initiative. He is the author of over a dozen stage plays, including Atwater: Fixin' to Die, The Lynching of Leo Frank, Mesopotamia, and Unmanned. He received a MacArthur grant with Silk Road Rising to co-translate Wannous' Rituals of Signs and Transformations with Nada Saab, and he produced the play in Beirut in 2013. He and Nada Saab cotranslated Wannous' The Rape, which he produced in Beirut in 2015. He has edited and translated two books with Nada Saab: Sentence to Hope: A Sa'dallah Wannous Reader (2019) and Modern and Contemporary Political Theater from the Levant (2018). He has published articles on theatre and culture for PAJ: A Journal of Performing Arts, Theatre Research International, Contemporary Literature Studies, other academic journals, and the New York Times. His website is

The book is available to AUB community as a print copy in Jafet's Archives and Special Collections (CA 892.72:W249Yt) and online accessible here.

To read the news about Saadallah Wannous collection, click here.

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