Associate Professor of English, Comparative Literary Studies, & American Studies
Director, Program in Middle East and North African Studies (MENA)
University Hall 319
Telephone: (847) 491-4718
Fax: (847) 467-1545
Brian T. Edwards (Ph.D. Yale University) teaches and writes about U.S. literature and culture in its international context, globalization and culture, and contemporary literary and cultural production of North Africa and the Middle East. His fields of interest include American studies, Middle East and North African studies, comparative literature, postcolonial and diaspora studies, film, and cultural anthropology.
He is the author of Morocco Bound: Disorienting America's Maghreb, from Casablanca to the Marrakech Express (Duke University Press, 2005), as well as numerous essays and articles in publications including Chicago Tribune, The Believer, McSweeney’s, Public Culture, Michigan Quarterly Review, Foreign Policy, Bookforum, and leading scholarly journals. Edwards is co-editor, with Dilip Gaonkar, of Globalizing American Studies (University of Chicago Press, 2010), a collection of essays that provides global perspectives on US history and culture. In 2009, he edited a portfolio of new Egyptian writing for the NY literary journal A Public Space.
Edwards has lectured extensively in the US and abroad, including in Egypt, India, Iran, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, Qatar, and throughout Europe. In the US, he has given readings and talks at venues such as the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the KGB Bar in NYC, the Chicago Humanities Festival, the Women’s Foreign Policy Group, and numerous universities. Edwards has been visiting faculty at the University of Tehran (2007, 2009), Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris (2007, 2010), and University College Dublin (2012), and a Fulbright Senior Specialist at both Cairo University, Giza, and the Università degli studi di Napoli "L'Orientale" in Italy. A former Fulbright Fellow to Morocco, he is an active member of the Moroccan Cultural Studies Center at Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah University in Fez. He has served on the selection committee for the London Iranian Film Festival.
In 2005, Edwards was named a Carnegie Scholar by the Carnegie Corporation of NY as part of their “Islam Initiative” designed to develop public scholarship on Islam and Muslim societies. (Click here to read a Carnegie profile.) During 2008-09, as a recipient of a New Directions Fellowship from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, he pursued training in sociocultural anthropology and Middle East studies at the University of Chicago, as well as advanced Arabic and Persian. In 2013, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs named him an Emerging Leader, one of 21 young leaders from the Chicago area selected as the Class of 2015.
At Northwestern, Edwards directs the Globalizing American Studies Project, a multi-year initiative featuring a series of symposia and an international network of scholars. In 2011, he was named the founding Director of Northwestern’s new Program in Middle East and North African Studies (MENA), which features a graduate cluster and Ph.D. certificate, and an undergraduate major and minor. Prior to this appointment, he was co-chair of Northwestern’s MENA working group, which had as its goal the reconsideration of the field on intellectual and programmatic grounds after the critique of area studies. The group helped develop MENA studies at Northwestern during a period of unprecedented growth, and held a series of symposia from 2010–2012. Edwards edited a volume of essays from the most recent such event, which featured Northwestern’s own MENA faculty, entitled New Directions in MENA Studies: Working Papers from Northwestern (forthcoming 2013).
Edwards is working on two new book projects. The first, entitled After the American Century: Ends of Circulation in Casablanca, Cairo, and Tehran, examines the circulation of U.S. culture and its forms in contemporary North Africa and the Middle East. The book makes an argument about the transnational movement of culture in the digital age that runs counter to prevailing notions in both literary studies and public and cultural diplomacy. Based on multisited field research, the book features close readings of contemporary Moroccan, Egyptian, and Iranian literature, film, graphic novels, and popular culture. His second project, which emerges from his literary non-fiction, is an account of his experiences in North Africa and the Middle East, through the lens of fiction and film produced there by Americans, Arabs, and Iranians. The book is a fusion of memoir, travel writing, and cultural history.
In addition to serving in the English department, where he was Director of Graduate Studies from 2009-2012, Edwards is a core faculty member in Northwestern’s programs of Comparative Literary Studies, American Studies, and the Ph.D. Program in Rhetoric and Public Culture.
Publications by Brian T. Edwards
Books and Edited Collections
Morocco Bound: Disorienting America's Maghreb, from Casablanca to the Marrakech Express, New Americanists Series
(Durham, NC, and London: Duke University Press, 2005). 368 pp.
Click here for reviews.
Cairo 2010: After Kefaya, a portfolio of work by the next generation of Cairo writers (plus a filmmaker and a comic artist), edited and introduced by Brian T. Edwards,
A Public Space, Issue 9 (Fall 2009): 127-175.
Features new work by Muhammad Aladdin, Ahmed Alaidy, Mansoura Ez-Eldin, Mohamed Al-Fakhrany, Khalid Kassab, Magdy El Shafee, and Omar Taher, with new translations by Humphrey Davies, Brian Edwards, Paul Starkey and Adam Talib.
Click here to read the introduction.
Globalizing American Studies, edited by Brian T. Edwards and Dilip P. Gaonkar (University of Chicago Press, 2010), 344 pp. Contributors include Kate Baldwin, Ali Behdad, Wai Chee Dimock, Brent Hayes Edwards, Brian Larkin, Claudio Lomnitz, Donald Pease, Naoki Sakai, Elizabeth Thompson, Juliet A. Williams, and Kariann Yokota.
Works in Progress
After the American Century: Ends of Circulation in Casablanca, Cairo, and Tehran (book project)
Untitled (book project)
"Jumping Publics: Magdy el Shafee’s Cairo Comics," NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction 47.1 (Spring 2014). Special issue: "Is the Novel Democratic?" Guest edited by Nancy Ruttenburg.
New Directions in Middle East and North African Studies: Working Papers from Northwestern, edited by Brian T. Edwards (Doha, Qatar, 2014), 41,000 words. Contributors include: Jessica Winegar, Wendy Pearlman, Sonali Pahwa, Joe Khalil, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Henri Lauzière, Rebecca Johnson, Brian Edwards, Katherine Hoffman, and Kristen Stilt. Forthcoming February 2014.
"Islam," in Keywords for American Cultural Studies, 2nd edition, ed. Bruce Burgett and Glenn Hendler (New York: NYU Press). Forthcoming 2014.
Essays & Articles
"Henry James and Alfred Hitchcock after the American Century: Circulation and Non-return in The American Scene and Strangers on a Train," in The Men Who Knew Too Much: Henry James and Alfred Hitchcock, ed. Susan M. Griffin and Alan Nadel (NY: Oxford University Press, 2012), 48-58.
"After the American Century," REAL: Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature, Vol. 27. Special issue: "States of Emergency - States of Crisis" ed. by Winfried Fluck, Katharina Motyl, Donald Pease and Christoph Raetzschl. (Tuebingen, Germany: Gunter Narr Verlag, 2011): 57-72.
Click here to read the essay. (Downloads 274kb pdf file).
Review of Valerie Orlando, Francophone Voices of the ‘New’ Morocco in Film and Print, Journal of North African Studies, 16.3 (2011): 493-496.
"Al Magharbah yahibun malikihum wa baladihum" (in Arabic), Maghrib al-Youm (Morocco), 18-24 February 2011, p. 19.
Click here to read the article. (Downloads 86 kb pdf file).
"The Next to Tumble?" an Op-Ed on Morocco in the wake of the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions, Chicago Tribune, 10 February 2011.
Click here to read the article.
"You Had to Be There," A Public Space, issue 11 (Fall 2010), 11-12. A mini-essay on jokes in Tehran, Cairo, Fez, and Casablanca. Includes three jokes, suitable for retelling.
Click here to read the essay. (Downloads 2.4 mb pdf file).
"Globalizing American Studies" (with Dilip Gaonkar), an extended introductory essay to Globalizing American Studies, edited by B.T. Edwards and D. P. Gaonkar (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010), pp 1-44.
"American Studies in Motion: Tehran, Hyderabad, Cairo," epilogue to Globalizing American Studies, edited by B.T. Edwards and D. P. Gaonkar (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010), pp 300-321.
Review of Susan Nance, How the Arabian Nights Inspired the American Dream, 1790-1935, Journal of American History, 97.2 (September 2010): 555-556.
"Fragments of America: Response to Marius Jucan," American, British and Canadian Studies (Journal of the Academic Anglophone Society of Romania), vol. 14 (June 2010): 96-103.
Click here to read the essay. (Downloads 176kb pdf file.)
"Letter from Cairo," McSweeney's, issue 34 (Spring 2010), 16-18. A 1,200 word mini-essay about coffee-fasting during Ramadan, feeling like a speck, and a shared sense of community.
Click here to read the essay. (Downloads 52 kb pdf file.)
"Disorienting Captivity: A Response to Gordon Sayre" American Literary History 22.2 (Summer 2010): 360-367. Jointly published in Early American Literature.
Click here to read the essay.
Review of Sandra Gayle Carter, What Moroccan Cinema?: A Historical and Critical Study, 1956-2006, The Middle East Journal, vol. 64, no. 3 (Summer 2010), 490-491.
"Watching Shrek in Tehran," an essay on illegal ogres, immoral materials, Iranian film in its U.S. circulation and Hollywood film in Iranian circulation. The Believer, vol. 8, no. 3 (March/April 2010): 5-11.
Click here to read the essay.
Selected as “Notable Travel Writing of 2010” in The Best American Travel Writing 2011, Sloane Crosley, Guest Editor, Jason Wilson, Series Editor (Houghton Mifflin 2011).
Review of Gil Hochberg's In Spite of Partition: Jews, Arabs, and the Limits of the Separatist Imagination, Comparative Literature 60.2 (Spring 2009).
"American Studies in Tehran," Public Culture 19.3 (2007): 415-24.
Click here to read the essay.
Selected as a "Notable Essay of 2007" in The Best American Essays 2008, Adam Gopnik, Guest Editor, Robert Atwan, Series Editor (Houghton Mifflin 2008).
"Marock in Morocco: Reading Moroccan Films in the Age of Circulation," Journal of North African Studies 12.3 (2007): 287-307. Special issue on North African cinema.
Reprinted in North African Cinema in Global Context: Through the Lens of Diaspora, ed. Andrea Khalil (Routledge, 2008).
"Rethinking American Orientalism After the American Century," America in the Middle East: The Middle East in America, ed. Patrick McGreevy (Beirut, Lebanon: American University of Beirut, 2006), 41-52.
"On the Role of Intelligence in Globalization: Phases of Mrabet's Work," Moroccan Cultural Studies Journal, no. 3 (2006), 9-18.
Special issue: "Mohammed Mrabet and Paul Bowles: Literary and Cultural Encounters."
"Following Casablanca: Recasting the Postcolonial City," Moving Worlds: A Journal of Transcultural Writings, 5.1 (2005): 13-20.
Special issue: "African Cities."
"Sheltering Screens: Paul Bowles and Foreign Relations," American Literary History 17.2 (Summer 2005), 307-34.
"The Worlds of Paul Bowles," Tingis: A Moroccan-American Magazine of Ideas and Culture 2.2 (Spring 2005), 14-22.
Click here to read essay.
"The Maghreb in Black and White," Foreign Policy, no. 146 (January/February 2005):90-91 [Translated into Spanish and Arabic for FP Spain and FP Arabic]
"What Happened in Tangier?" Introduction to Moroccan republication of Love with a Few Hairs (1967), by Mohammed Mrabet, translated by Paul Bowles (Fez: Moroccan Cultural Studies Center, 2004): i-xiv.
[Arabic translation by Abdelaziz Jadir for Arabic edition of Love with a Few Hairs in preparation]
"Preposterous Encounters: Interrupting American Studies with the (Post)colonial, or Casablanca in the American Century," Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. 23.1-2 (2003): 70-86. Special issue: "Comparative (Post)colonialisms." Click here to read the essay.
"The Well-Built Wall of Culture: Old New York and Its Harems," in The Age of Innocence (Norton Critical Edition), ed. Candace Waid (NY: W.W. Norton, 2003), 482-506.
"Fanon's al-Jaza'ir, or Algeria translated", Parallax 8.2 (April-June 2002): 99-115.
"Yankee Pashas and Buried Women: Containing Abundance in 1950s Hollywood Orientalism", Film & History 31.2 (2001): 13-24.
Review of Jarrod Hayes' "Queer Nations: Marginal Sexualities in the Maghreb", The Journal of North African Studies 5.2 (2000): 94-98.
"Desert of Memory", FEED Magazine, 20 October 2000.