Dr. Sophia Brown
Seminar für Semitistik und Arabistik
Fellow Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung
‘Displaced Texts: Arabic Literature in the Anglophone Literary Marketplace
Sophia Brown’s research investigates how Palestinian literature enters the Anglophone literary marketplace. Exploring the selection and presentation of literary texts, it scrutinises the significant role played by publishing houses in validating literary works, addressing issues of displacement, language, (neo)imperial legacies, Eurocentrism, and commercial imperatives.
Sophia Brown’s PhD, a study of exilic Palestinian life writing in English, was awarded in 2017 by the University of Kent, UK. In 2018, she was a visiting research fellow at the Kenyon Institute, East Jerusalem. She has published journal articles on Egyptian women’s blogs, the narration of life under occupation in East Jerusalem and the life writing of Ahdaf Soueif, and is currently preparing her first monograph, based on her PhD thesis. Her latest publication, ‘Snapshots of Solidarity: Anthologizing Palestinian Life Writing’, was published in 2021 in Post-Millennial Palestine: Memory, Narration, Resistance (Liverpool University Press).
‘Displaced Texts: Arabic Literature in the Anglophone Literary Marketplace’ traces the journeys that texts take in order to reach an international readership. It surveys both works translated from Arabic into English and texts written originally in English. The project acknowledges that the displacement of many Palestinian writers, along with the publishing houses and cultural institutions that support their work, means that Palestinian literary works, whether produced in Palestine or throughout the diaspora, are overwhelmingly published outside of Palestine. A key aspect of the project is to map the wider implications of this, in line with PalREAD’s transnational perspective and its study of literature outside the framework of the nation-state. Overall, the project conceptualises the factors determining what gets published, translated and reviewed – and what does not. In so doing, it reflects on Palestinian literature’s relationship to place, the forms of cultural memory facilitated – and suppressed – by publishers and the historical and geopolitical realities that continue to impact the selection, circulation and reception of Palestinian literature.