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New paradigms in the study of middle eastern literatures.

The "Middle East" remains a contested term: It is the remnant of a neo-imperialist designation of a space that was sometimes synonymous with the colonial "Near East" but distinct from the "Far East," and is oftentimes a coded way of referring to the perceived "Islamic world." The nations of this imagined region intermittently reject and embrace this terminology, but at the same time dwell in the complicated space formed by an awareness of their shared pasts and a residual nationalist rejection of being collectively categorized. The long-term consequence of the nationalist state's imperative to sever the historical connections between the national language and its neighboring tongues (including those languages that linger in local, tribal, and minority communities) and to expunge "borrowed" words has left a long wake in creative and scholarly work. While comparative work among the "classical" traditions of these literatures is undertaken without comment, scholarship on their modern traditions is caught between the exigencies of imperialism, nationalism, and academic parochialism. Nonetheless, these languages, cultures, and literatures continue to share much in the modern world, and this issue is devoted to the exploration of those persistent ties and affinities, and the attempt to discover new or enduring linkages between literatures, languages, and cultures in a world where they are largely forgotten or willfully ignored.

This issue of Alif solicited articles that engaged and attempted to theorize in new ways these vital ties, and which attempted to forge new paradigms for the study of these literatures and languages. Contributors understood and responded to this call in ways that challenge us to re-think the premises of the issue and also to ask what is required in order to facilitate more comparative study across the languages and literatures of the region.

Alif, a refereed multilingual journal appearing annually in the spring, presents articles in Arabic, English, and, occasionally, French. The different traditions and languages confront and complement each other on its pages. Each issue includes and welcomes original articles.

The next issues will center on the following themes:

Alif 36: Friendship: Representations and Cultural Variations

Alif 37: Literature and Journalism

Alif 38: Translation and the Production of Knowledge(s)

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Author:Motlagh, Amy
Publication:Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics
Date:Jan 1, 2015
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