• Samah Selim
  • Samah Selim
  • Professor, Arabic Language and Literature, and Acting Chair
  • Phone: 848-445-8456
  • Office hours: By Appointment
  • Room #: 6161
  • Office address: 15 Seminary Place, College Avenue Campus
  • Education:

    Samah Selim received her BA in English Literature from Barnard College in 1986 and her PhD from the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University in 1997.  She has taught at Columbia University, Princeton University, the University of Aix-en-Provence and the American University in Cairo, and she is co-director of the literature module of the Berlin-based postdoctoral research program, Europe in the Middle East; the Middle East in Europe.

  • Areas of Research/Interest:

    Her research focuses mainly on modern Arabic Literature in Egypt and the Levant, with a particular interest in narrative genres like the novel and short story; comparative theories of fiction, and the politics of translation practice in colonial and postcolonial contexts. Her most recent book, Popular Fiction, Translation and the Nadha in Egypt (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019) is on the cultural and literary politics surrounding the translation of the novel into Arabic at the beginning of the twentieth century. She is currently working on a literary biography of the Lebanese novelist and journalist Niqula al-Haddad.

    Dr. Selim is also an award-winning literary translator. She is the recipient of the Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation (2009), the University of Arkansas Translation of Arabic Literature Award (2012) and the National Endowment for the Arts Translation Grant (2018). She is currently working on an English translation of Jordanian author Ghalib Halasa’s 1987 novel Sultana.

  • Books:

    -Popular Fiction, Translation and the Nahda in Egypt. Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.

    -The Novel and the Rural Imaginary in Egypt, 1880-1985. Routledge, 2004.


    -Arwa Salih, The Stillborn: Notebooks of a woman from the student movement generation in Egypt. Kolkata: Seagull Books, 2018.

    -Jurji Zaydan. Tree of Pearls, Queen of Egypt. New York: Syracuse University Press, 2012.

    -Khalid Ziadeh. Neighborhood and Boulevard: Reading through the Modern Arab City. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

    -Yahya Taher Abdullah. The Collar and the Bracelet. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2008.

    Book Chapters:

    -“Translations and Adaptations from the European Novel.” The Oxford Handbook of Arab Novelistic Traditions. Ed. Wail S. Hassan, Oxford University Press, 2017, pp. 119-134.

    -“Text and Context: Translating in a State of Emergency” in Translating Dissent: Voices from within and with the Egyptian Revolution, ed. Mona Baker, Routledge, 2015, pp.77-87.

    Special journal issues:

    -The Translator, vol. 21, no. 2: 2015: Translating in the Arab World. Eds. Richard Jacquemond and Samah Selim.

    -The Translator, vol.16, 2009: Nation and Translation in the Middle East. Ed. Samah Selim.


    -“Politics and Paratexts: On Translating Arwa Salih’s Al-Mubtasarun” in Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics. Ed. Mona Baker, 38, 2018, pp.180-202.

    -“Languages of Civilization: Nation, Translation and the Politics of Race in colonial Egypt,” The Translator, vol. 16, April, 2009, pp.139-156.

  • Courses:
    • Introduction to the Literatures of the Middle East
    • Modern Arabic Literature
    • Literary Egypt
    • Storytelling in the Muslim World