Brian Edwards

Crown Professor in Middle East Studies
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

Books & Edited

Essays & Articles

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) and After the American Century: The Ends of U.S. Culture in the Middle East (Columbia University Press, forthcoming November 2015), 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.  He also edited and contributed to a volume of essays, On the Ground: New Directions in Middle East and North African Studies, published in both print (Northwestern University in Qatar, 2013) and electronic (2014) editions. 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 including in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Iran, Qatar, India, Kyrgyzstan, 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), École des hautes études 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.  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, Middle East and North African Studies, American Studies, and the Ph.D. Program in Rhetoric and Public Culture.

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Publications by Brian T. Edwards

Books and Edited Collections

Morocco Bound 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 detailed description.

Cairo 2010 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.

GAS 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.

On The Ground On the Ground: New Directions in Middle East and North African Studies, edited by Brian T. Edwards (Northwestern University in Qatar, 2013), 112 pp.

Contributors Brian Edwards, Katherine Hoffman, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Rebecca Johnson, Henri Lauzière, Sonali Pahwa, Wendy Pearlman, Joe Khalil, Kristen Stilt, and Jessica Winegar.
Click here to view the electronic edition

In Press

After the American Century: The Ends of U.S. Culture in the Middle East (Columbia University Press, forthcoming November 2015)

When Henry Luce called for an “American Century” more than seven decades ago, he claimed that the international popularity of American culture would usher in a world favorable to the interests of the United States. In the 21st century, the reputation of the US is downgraded, and the digital revolution has fundamentally altered the ways in which cultural products move across the globe. Yet movies, music, videogames, TV, comics, and fiction from the US have huge global audiences.

In After the American Century, I examine how culture circulates now, when American power is more tenuous, and where the pathways are unpredictable, accelerated, full of diversions, and frequently lead to dead ends. Based on a decade of fieldwork and on-the-ground research, the book shows us how creative individuals in Morocco, Egypt and Iran have used American forms to produce innovative works of their own—works of literature, film, and video that are inspiring, challenging, and express the complexities of life in a rapidly changing Middle East and North Africa. Focusing on three sites from a dynamic region, I ask what happens when cultural forms originating in the US, from the comic to the teen romance, and from social networking sites to American ways of expressing sexuality, enter into new social milieu and are taken up by Moroccans, Egyptians and Iranians. The book provides a methodology of reading these hybrid works, building on the lessons from fields as diverse as linguistic anthropology, postcolonial theory, and cinema studies, and putting into action a global approach to American studies.

“Arab Spring, American Autumn,” in Shifting Borders, ed. Marwan Kraidy and Alex Lubin (University of North Carolina Press), forthcoming.

Essays & Articles

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“To Make the World a Better Place, Teach Arabic,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 11, 2015, back page.
 Click here to read the article.

"Teach Arabic in Public Schools,” Chicago Tribune, April 6, 2015, p. 15.
Click here to read the article.

Islam,” in Keywords for American Cultural Studies, 2nd edition, ed. Bruce Burgett and Glenn Hendler (NY: NYU Press, 2014): 137–141.

"Road to Rapid City," an essay about Hollywood road movies, a family road trip, and a 4,000 mile moving film festival where they did—and didn't—come together. The Believer, vol. 12, no. 5 (June 2014): 27–35.   
Click here to read the essay.

"Jumping Publics: Magdy el Shafee’s Cairo Comics," NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction 47.1 (Spring 2014): 67–89.  Special issue: "Is the Novel Democratic?" Guest edited by Nancy Ruttenburg.
Click here to read the article.

"The World, the Text, and the Americanist," American Literary History 25.1 (Spring 2013): 231-246.  
Click here to read an extract.

Review of Abdellah Taïa, An Arab Melancholia, Bookforum 19.1 (April/May 2012): 42–43.
Click here to read the review.

"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.

"Tahrir: Ends of Circulation,"  Public Culture 23.3 (fall 2011): 493-504. 
Click here to read the essay.

"Logics and Contexts of Circulation," in A Companion to Comparative Literature, edited by Ali Behdad and Dominic Thomas (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2011), 454-472.  

"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.

"The Moroccan Paul Bowles," Michigan Quarterly Review 50.2 (Spring 2011): 191-209. 
Click here to read the essay.

"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).
Reprinted in Read Harder: Five More Years of Great Writing from The Believer, ed. Ed Park and Heidi Julavits (San Francisco: McSweeney’s Books, 2014), 137–148.

"Cairo 2010: After Kefaya," Introduction to Cairo Portfolio, A Public Space, issue 9 (Fall 2009): 128-33.
Click here to read the essay.

Review of Gil Hochberg's In Spite of Partition: Jews, Arabs, and the Limits of the Separatist Imagination, Comparative Literature 60.2 (Spring 2009).

"Arab Ambivalence toward Obama and the Race Card," The Huffington Post, 26 November 2008.
Click here to read the article.

"We're already talking to Tehran," an Op-Ed on Obama and dialogue with Iran, Chicago Tribune (Sunday), 20 July 2008.
Click here to read the article.

"Kiddie Orientalism," an essay on Star Wars, North Africa, and the first post-9/11 generation of American children. The Believer, no. 54 (June 2008), 21-30.
Click here to read the essay.

"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.

"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.

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