Associate Professor of Modern Arabic and Comparative Literature, Department of English
Associated Faculty, Department of Arabic and Near Eastern Languages
D.Phil. University of Oxford 2005; M.A. Free University of Berlin 2000
Sonja Mejcher-Atassi obtained her D.Phil. in modern Arabic literature from the University of Oxford in 2005, with a dissertation on interrelations of modern Arabic literature and art under the supervision of Dr. Robn Ostle, and her M.A. in Arabic literature and comparative literature (double major) from the Free University of Berlin in 2000, with a dissertation on memory in the novels of Elias Khoury under the supervision of Dr. Renate Jacobi and Dr. Hella Tiedemann.
She is an Associate Professor of Modern 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.
From 2014-17, she served as Chairperson of the Department of English.
In 2017-18, she is on research leave as a Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin.
Her research is in modern and contemporary Arabic literature, comparative literature, book history and art, collection and museum studies, cultural memory and history, and aesthetics and politics/political dissidence. She is currently working on two book projects: In Search of Jabra Ibrahim Jabra: a life in literature and art between Palestine and Iraq (Edinburgh University Press) and On Wannous: Critical Studies on the Syrian Playwright and Public Intellectual (ed. with Robert Myers).
Her publications include: Rafa Nasiri: Artist Books, ed. with May Muzaffar (Skira 2017); Reading across Modern Arabic Literature and Art (Reichert 2012); Museums, Archives and Collecting Practices in the Modern Arab World, ed. with John Pedro Schwartz (Ashgate 2012); “The Arabic Novel between Aesthetic Concerns and the Causes of Man: Commitment in Jabra Ibrahim Jabra and ‘Abd al-Rahman Munif,” in Commitment and Beyond: Reflections on/of the Political in Arabic Literature since the 1940s, eds. Friederike Pannewick and Georges Khalil (Reichert 2015), 143–55; “Abounaddara’s take on images in the Syrian revolution,” Jadaliyya 08.07.2014 and 02.09.2014; “Art and Political Dissent in Post-War Lebanon: Walid Sadek’s fi annani akbar min picasso [bigger than picasso],” IJMES 45.3 (2013): 535–60; "Contemporary Book Art in the Middle East: The Book as Document in Iraq," Art History 35/5 (2012); "The Forbidden Paradise: How Etel Adnan Learned to Paint in Arabic," and "On the Necessity of Writing the Present: Elias Khoury and ‘the Birth of the Novel’ in Lebanon," in: Arabic Literature: Postmodern Perspectives eds. Angelika Neuwirth et al (Saqi 2010); (ed.), Writing a ‘Tool for Change’: ‘Abd al-Rahman Munif Remembered, MIT EJMES 7 (2007).
She is a member of the advisory boards of the Institute for World Literature, Harvard University, and the Orient-Institut Beirut, Max Weber Foundation (German humanities institutes abroad).
She serves on the editorial boards of the book series literatures in context: Arabic – Persian – Turkish and Beiruter Texte und Studien.
Teaching: Comparative Literature, World Literature, Modern Arabic Literature, Global Modernisms, Literary Theory, The Novel, Word and Image, Book History and Art, Gender and Cultural Production, Civilization Studies Program core courses.
Courses she has taught include:
ENGL 325 World Literature
ENGL 306 Word and Image
ENGL 309 Arab Modernisms
ENGL 301 Introduction to Bibliography and Research Methods
ENGL 221 Introduction to Literary Theory
ENGL 217 The Novel
MEST 316 Introduction to Contemporary Art in the Middle East
CVSP 201 Ancient Near East and Classical Civilizations
CVSP 202 Medieval, Islamic and Renaissance Civilizations
CVSP 203 Enlightenment and Modernity
CVSP 204 Contemporary Studies
CVSP 208 Gender and Cultural Production
CVSP 250 Introduction to Art Appreciation: Changing Notions of Art and Artist
CVSP 251 Civilization through the Arts: Modern Art’s Many Faces
FAAH 150 Survey of Art