is an Assistant Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Comparative Literature at the University of Oregon. His research focuses on colonialism, secularization and the formation of modern reading practices in Africa and the Middle East, primarily in French, Arabic, and English. In both his research and teaching, he bridges textual analysis with social theory and draws from methods in anthropology, film and visual culture, religion, and postcolonial studies. He holds his Ph.D. from the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley, where he worked under the direction of Judith Butler and Karl Britto.
During the 2011-2012 academic year, he was a EUME-Fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin. He has also been a member of the Society of Fellows at Columbia University (2008-9) and a Townsend Fellow at Humanities Center at the University of California, Berkeley (2006-7). For two summers he worked as the site director for an intensive Arabic program in Tangier, Morocco (2011-2012), and prior to pursuing his doctorate, he served as a Presidential Intern at the American University in Cairo, where he was affiliated with the Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies (2000-1).
His current book project, Site Reading: Colonial Egypt and the Making of a Literary World, offers a colonial history of literature at the intersection of the French, British and Ottoman empires, nineteenth-century moral education, and reforms in Qur’anic instruction. The book examines how modern literary disciplines reshape textual practices, transform connotations of adab, and delineate the literate from the illiterate. His second book explores the travels of camera operators for the Lumière Brothers film company across Africa and the Middle East at the end of the nineteenth century. The various chapters connect innovations in film form with the sites at which these films were shot: the pyramids in Egypt, the Jaffa Gate in Palestine, and colonial Algiers.
He recently served as the guest editor of a special issue of Comparative Literature, “Reading Secularism: Aesthetics, Literature, Religion,” and has published articles on a range of topics: religion and sexuality in The Yacoubian Building, the problem of address in world literature (awarded the A. Owen Aldridge Prize by the American Comparative Literature Association), language in the writings of Frantz Fanon, and contemporary Lebanese video art.