Faculty News

Book Culture event for Iran without Borders

Reading and Discussion with author Hamid Dabashi

in conversation with Hossein Kamaly

Wednesday September 28, 2016 7:00 p.m.

Verso Press publishes Iran without Borders by Hamid Dabashi

August 2016

Sahar Ullah is the 2016 Literature Humanities Core Preceptor Teaching Award Recipient

May 2016

After reviewing course evaluations and visiting several excellent classes, the Core Curriculum Deans office has selected MESAAS PhD candidate Sahar Ullah for the Graduate Student Core Preceptor Award for excellency in teaching Literature Humanities.

The announcement noted that "Professor Ullah prepares extensively before her classes, and she combined brilliance with professionalism. We appreciated her use of elements such as schematic drawings and close readings with discussions that were intertextual and related to current events. Her students consistently described her in their evaluations as 'incredible' and 'phenomenal'. If there were an archetypal Literature Humanities course, it would be Sahar’s course."

Sahar Ullah is currently working on her dissertation entitled "The Role of the Amatory Prelude in Post-Classical Arabic-Islamic Poetics."

Columbia University Press publishes A Rasa Reader translated and edited by Sheldon Pollock

A Rasa Reader

April 2016

Zayed Book Award Reveals 2016 Contenders in ‘Arab Culture’ and ‘Publishing’ Categories

March 2016

"Sheikh Zayed Book Award revealed today the last nominations for its tenth cycle. The list includes three titles under ‘Arab culture in other languages’ in English and French, in addition to four publishing houses nominated for winning the ‘Publishing and Technology’ award."

"One English title has been nominated under ‘Arab Culture in Other Languages’; ‘The Medieval Islamic Republic of Letter, Arabic Knowledge Construction’ by Iraqi writer Muhsin J Al-Musawi, published by University of Notre Dame Press, 2015. The book is an engaging and deeply learned work of literary history. It presents a a compelling argument against the commonly held opinion that Arabic literature, since the glorious peak of the Abbasids, has somehow failed to be modern, and instead became locked in conventions that were stultifying and rarefied, created only for a small circle of initiates who were themselves censored and censuring. Musawi reviews this misconception and demonstrates, through his readings how this generally accepted account is profoundly mistaken."

Gift in Honor of the Late Professor Emeritus Maan Z. Madina


March 2016

The Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies (MESAAS) has received a generous gift to commemorate a former faculty member and support the field of scholarship to which he devoted his own forty-year teaching career at Columbia. Dr. Marilyn Jenkins-Madina '66GSAS, Curator Emerita of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, made the gift in honor of her late husband, Maan Z. Madina, MESAAS Professor Emeritus and noted collector of Islamic art.

The two-part gift, consisting of an immediate donation to be followed by a bequest, will endow a visiting scholar position affiliated with the department on an annual basis. The Madina Scholar will be a distinguished academic teaching humanities at an institution in the Middle East, whose work is grounded in the history of the Arab world. The aim of the program will be to foster intellectual exchanges that benefit both the academic community at Columbia and the scholar’s students and colleagues in the Middle East.

Columbia is delighted to establish this partnership with Dr. Jenkins-Madina in memory of a long-standing faculty member, and is thrilled that this gift will fulfill a core need of the Department, by bringing exceptional visiting scholars to enrich the intellectual life of MESAAS and the University.

Professor Muhsin al-Musawi


February 2016

Professor al-Musawi's latest book, The Popular Memory of the Societies of the Thousand and One Nights, is published by Al-Markaz al-Thaqafi al-Arabi press.

The book expounds on and develops al-Musawi's early research on and criticism of the social and cultural aspect of medieval and Abbasid life, and discusses the nature of narrative techniques that evolved then in relation to poetry, historiography, geography, topography, and the akhbar genre. Please have a look at the front and back covers for more information.

Professor Joseph Massad


December 2015

Professor Joseph Massad's latest book, Islam in Liberalism, was selected as one of the top 10 best academic books of 2015 by Flavorwire.com.

Prof. Samuel Sudanandha

November 2015

Following his earlier exegesis of the Tamil classic Maduraik Kanchi, Prof. Samuel Sudanandha has now come out with an excellent work of the same kind on another long poem of the Sangam corpus, Mullaip Pattu. While the earlier poem is the longest of the ten poems known as Pattuppattu, this one is the shortest. Running to a hundred and three lines, this poem is rated among the most refined poetic works in Tamil. Authored by Napputanar, it talks about the pangs of separation of a heroine, who is anxiously awaiting the arrival of her beloved who is engaged in warfare. Sudanandha's exegesis is as usual aimed at the student and the common reader, and an appreciation of the original text. However, in an introduction that explicates the poem, he guides the reader into understanding the poetic structure of the work and, in particular, its place in the overall tinai framework that forms the basis of the Sangam classics.

Professor Wael Hallaq's The Impossible State: Islam, Politics, and Modernity’s Moral Predicament wins Columbia University Press Distinguished Book Award


September 2015

Wael Hallaq’s The Impossible State: Islam, Politics, and Modernity’s Moral Predicament wins the first annual Columbia University Press Distinguished Book Award, sponsored by the Press itself and the Office of the Provost. “The Columbia University Press Distinguished Book Award is given to the Columbia University faculty member with a book published by the Press in the two years prior that brings the highest distinction to Columbia University and Columbia University Press for its outstanding contribution to academic and public discourse.”

Professor Hamid Dabashi's Persophilia and Can Non-Europeans Think? are published


September 2015

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Professor Samuel Sudanandha's exegesis of the poem Maduraik Kanchi, authored by Mankudi Maruthanar, is published


March 2015

Maduraik Kanchi, authored by Mankudi Maruthanar, is one of the ten long poems known as Pattuppattu in the Sangam corpus of early Tamil literature. Prof. Samuel Sudanandha's exegesis of the poem, the first of its kind, is meant for the students and common readers, particularly aiming at a direct exposure to the original text rather than the medieval scholarly commentatorial traditions and their modern versions. Sudanandha's work also includes an introduction that guides the reader in understanding the poem and an appendix that essays the relationship between Tamil education and colonial modernity.

Professor Joseph Massad's Islam in Liberalism is published by the University of Chicago Press


March 2015

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