Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature, Department of English
Associated Faculty, Department of Arabic and Near Eastern Languages
D.Phil. University of Oxford 2005, MA Free University of Berlin 2000
Sonja Mejcher-Atassi is a 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 resident fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study/ Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. She obtained her PhD from the University of Oxford in 2005, and her MA from the Free University of Berlin in 2000.
Her research focuses on modern Arabic literature in global perspective, and closely intersects with cultural and intellectual history and memory studies. She is also interested in biography, writers' libraries, collecting practices and literature archives, book culture and art, and aesthetics and politics. She is currently finishing a book manuscript, entitled That Impossible Friendship in Jerusalem before 1948 and Its Afterlives, which brings to life an extraordinary group of young men and women, some of whom went on to become internationally acclaimed writers, artists, and intellectuals. Through the lens of a group portrait, it offers new perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Her publications include The Theatre of Sa'dallah Wannous: A Critical Study of the Syrian Playwright and Public Intellectual (Cambridge University Press 2021; ed. with Robert Myers); Rafa Nasiri: Artist Books (Skira 2016; ed. with May Muzaffar); Reading across Modern Arabic Literature and Art (Reichert 2012); Archives, Museums, and Collecting Practices in the Modern Arab World (Ashgate 2012; ed. with John Pedro Schwartz); Writing a 'Tool for Change': 'Abd al-Rahman Munif Remembered (MIT EJMES 2007; ed.); and Geschichten über Geschichten: Erinnerung im Romanwerk von Elias Khoury (Reichert 2001), in addition to numerous book chapters and refereed journal articles.
Sonja Mejcher-Atassi served as Chairperson of the Department of English from 2014 to 2017.
She is a member of the advisory board of the Institute for World Literature at Harvard University, and she is a member of the Global (De)Centre: Diversity, Mobility, Culture. She serves on the editorial boards of the book series literatures in context: Arabic – Persian – Turkish, published by Reichert, and Beiruter Texte und Studien, published by the Orient Institut Beirut, which is part of the Max Weber Foundation (German humanities institutes abroad).
Teaching: Comparative/World Literature, Modern Arabic Literature, Global Modernism, Literary Theory, Biography, Word and Image, Book History and Art, Gender and Cultural Production, Civilization Studies Program core courses.