​From Cairo to Camagüey​, a look into the Arab World and Latin America

Robert Myers, the CASAR​ director​ published an article with Penn State University Press​, "From Cairo to Camagüey: Ibn Daniyal’s The Shadow Spirit, Sarduy’s Cobra, and Rojas’s Celestina as a bawd between the Arab World and Latin America".

There have been numerous studies of the transmission of literatures of the medieval Arab world to al-Andalus, such as those by López-Baralt and Menocal. There have also been various studies examining the transmission of literatures from Golden Age Spain and Portugal to Latin America, such as Roberto González Echevarría’s Celestina’s Brood. There have, however, been almost no studies that examine continuities between the literatures and cultures of the medieval Arab world and modern Latin America through al-Andalus. 

Utilizing existing scholarship and an approach derived from romance philology, this study examines the continuities between the shadow plays of Iraqi poet Ibn Daniyal, written and presented in Cairo around 1300, especially The Shadow Spirit, which features a sexual go-between, and Celestina, by Fernando de Rojas, published in Salamanca in 1499. The study then looks at the intertextual links between Celestina and the Cuban Severo Sarduy’s postmodern novel Cob​ra, published in 1972, which also has a sexual go-between as a principal character, and the substantial affinities Cobra shares with The Shadow Spirit. The study suggests that these texts, and many others, can fruitfully be viewed as belonging to a centuries-long translinguistic tradition that includes works from the Arab world, the Iberian Peninsula, and Latin America.

​​​​​​​​CASAR director Robert Myers and LAU professor Nada Saab publish two critical anthologies of Levantine theater

We are proud to announce that Robert Myers the director of CASAR and Nada Saab of the Lebanese American University (LAU), have recently published two English-language critical anthologies of Levantine theater. Over the past few years, Myers and Saab have worked on gathering and translating plays and essays, as well as collecting new critical material for these two collections. We are thrilled to see their hard work come to fruition. Please join us on April 16th at the Irwin Theater at LAU for a joint book launch event to celebrate the occasion. More details to follow.

Myers & Saab - modern and contemp poli theater.jpg

Modern and Contemporary Political Theater from the Levant; a Critical Anthology is coming out with Brill publishers as part of their series on performing arts and literature of the islamicate world. In this collection Myers and Saab provide a sense of the variety and complexity of political theater produced in and around the Levant from the 1960s to the present, within the context of wider discussions about political theater and the histories and forms of performance in the Islamic and Arab worlds. Five major playwrights are studied, ʿIsam Mahfuz, from Lebanon; Muhammad al-Maghut and Saʿdallah Wannous, from Syria; Jawad al-Asadi, from Iraq, Syria and Lebanon; and Raʾida Taha, from Palestine. The volume includes translations of their plays The DictatorThe JesterThe RapeBaghdadi Bath and Where Would I Find Someone Like You, ʿAli?, respectively.

Sentence to Hope cover small.jpg

The second book, Sentence to Hope: A Sa'adallah Wannous Reader​, is published with Yale University Press and it is the first English-language collection of plays and essays by Syrian playwright Sa'dallah Wannous, one of the Arab world's most significant playwrights, writers, and intellectuals of the twentieth century. Selections include the groundbreaking 1969 play An Evening's Entertainment for the Fifth of June, a scathing indictment of the duplicity of Arab leaders during the 1967 War, as well as Wannous's most celebrated play, Rituals of Signs and Transformations, a bold treatment of homosexuality, prostitution, clerical corruption, and the quest for female liberation. In addition to his work as a playwright, Wannous, like Brecht, was an astute theatrical and c​ultural critic, and his essays, some of which are included in this volume, offer shrewd diagnoses of the ills plaguing Arab society and the essential role of theater in ameliorating them​.​

Read a recent review published in the New York Review of Books on Sentence to Hope: A Sa'adallah Wannous Reader​ here.​​


​​​CASAR forms first international working group responding to the loss and legacy of famed journalist, Anthony Shadid


CASAR has created the first of several international working groups on issues related to the Middle East and the Americas to study the work of the Pulitzer Prize-winning  Lebanese-American journalist, Anthony Shadid, who passed away in 2012. The working group, a new initiative created in 2017 by CASAR's director from 2016-2018, Amy Zenger, was organized by Zenger, an AUB associate professor of English who has written extensively on writing, rhetoric and race; the renowned journalist Rami Khouri , who is an adjunct professor of media at AUB; CASAR's current director, Robert Myers ; and Kaoukab Chebaro, assistant professor and associate university librarian for special collections at AUB. The working group, which will include international scholars, journalists and artists, will draw on the extraordinary archives of Anthony Shadid, housed at AUB's Jafet Library, and overseen by Rami Khouri and Kaoukab Chebaro, to teach journalism and writing, develop a range of new pedagogical tools, create a theatrical performance about Shadid's life and career, and develop films and media on Shadid's work, as well as a number of other important projects.​

​Theater scholars from ​​​CUNY visit AUB and CASAR, cementing new relationship​

In October of 2018 a delegation from the City University of New York (CUNY) and the Martin E. Segal Theater Center visited AUB and CASAR as part of the new memorandum of understanding between CUNY and AUB. The group to kick off this new relationship between our two universities will include theater scholars Frank Hentschker, Nick Pappas, and Peter Eckersall. During their time here, Frank Hentschker and Peter Eckersall will offer a public lecture (see above), and the delegation will meet extensively with CASAR's d​irector Robert Myers and the co-directors of the AUB Theatre Initiative to make plans for activities that will take place as part of CUNY and AUB's memorandum of understanding.

Directors of various Alwaleed Centers to meet in Edinburgh


CASAR's director, Robert Myers, will be traveling to Edinburgh, Scotland to represent the center in a meeting of the directors of various Alwaleed centers hosted by The Alwaleed Centre at Edinburgh. In addition to Myers, the directors from the centers at Georgetown, Harvard, Cambridge, Edinburgh, and the American University of Cairo will be in attendance. Meetings will be held to discuss the roles played by the various Alwaleed centers in the global academic community.​ Exact date TBA.​

Proceedings from CASAR's international symposium, Localizing Transnational American Studies, forthcoming fall 2019

CASAR's outgoing director, Amy Zenger is currently working with associate professor of English and comparative literature, Siréne Harb, and AUB Press to publish the proceedings from our international symposium, Localizing Transnational American Studies. This symposium was a meeting of American studies scholars from locations all over the world, such as South Korea, Denmark, Egypt, and Italy, which took place in the spring of 2018. This symposium was an opportunity to discuss, explore, and develop practical and theoretical methods for grounding the increasingly sprawling field of transnational American studies in specific, localized realities. Keep an eye out for this book and check out our other conference proceedings here