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Book on Middle East Goes Online

Scholars' perspectives on transforming Middle East in the wake of 'Arab Spring'

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University in Qatar and the Evanston-based Program in Middle East and North African Studies (MENA) have launched a companion website to the print edition of the new book they produced together and unveiled this winter. They are nearing completion of the digital version for Kindle and iPad, as well.

The book, "On the Ground: New Directions in Middle East and North African Studies" was published by NU-Q and edited by Brian Edwards, director of MENA and an associate professor of English and comparative literary studies in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. “On the Ground” showcases the work of eight MENA faculty and two NU-Q professors.

Chapters explore the role of Islamic law in new constitutions, how boredom played into the 2011 Middle East uprisings, the rise of the Arabic novel in the 19th century and ways the digital revolution has altered the region's cultural landscape. The book emerged from a symposium held in Doha, and it represents the first formal collaboration of the Evanston program with NU-Q.

Northwestern's new MENA program formally opened in September 2013, launching an undergraduate major and minor, as well as a Ph.D. cluster and certificate program.

The program also is bringing speakers to campus. On Mondays at noon, for example, it hosts MENA Mondays, when guest speakers discuss contemporary politics and culture in hotspots like Syria, Turkey and Iran. The events are a chance for Northwestern community members to present their scholarly work. The Halaqa series allows students to hear and practice spoken Arabic.

Beginning April 10, MENA will join with the Block Museum of Art to host a major film retrospective of Moroccan filmmaker Moumen Smihi. A filmmaker and foundational figure of the “New Arab Cinema” of the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia) that began in the 1970s, Smihi is one of the key Arab filmmakers working today. Moumen Smihi himself will be on campus for the first week of the retrospective, giving talks at a number of venues on campus including at the opening at Block Cinema on April 10 and at MENA Monday on April 14. Smihi will also visit undergraduate classrooms where his work is being studied.

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