New Course at the AUC: Translating Revolution

Dr. Samia Mehrez—author, cultural critic, and professor of Modern Arabic Literature at the American University in Cairo—recently announced that she will be changing the topic of her spring seminar in Modern Arabic Lit.

The course, which was previously titled “Translation, Children’s Literature and Cultural Representations,” is now “TRANSLATING REVOLUTION.” (Capital letters are Dr. Mehrez’s.)

The course description reads:

The Egyptian Revolution of January 25 2011 has produced an unprecedented proliferation of political and cultural documents and materials whether written, oral, or visual that together historicize in a remarkable way the momentous events that have unfolded since the first day. Given their range, different linguistic registers and referential worlds, these documents and materials present a great challenge to any translator.

In this course we will try to archive, read, and selectively translate materials ranging from chants, slogans, jokes, poems, but also eyewitness reports, media coverage, interviews, diaries as well as presidential and cabinet speeches and declarations, not to mention military communiqués and revolutionary ones. Hence this course will expose students to various kinds of special texts and the different translation issues and problems that they raise.

To complement the practical work in this course, students will read a selection of texts in translation theory and practice that will inform their own translations of selected texts. Readings will focus on various questions in translation including issues of language variation, literary devices and compensation, as well as creative transformation (adaptation, re-writing, etc). Students will also explore problems of genre, issues of terminology and special language, the problem of target readership and purposes as well as the translator’s role in society as an agent of social change. Taught in English and Arabic.

I think it would be wonderful if this course could have a blog, or some sort of Meedan-like output, so that the material produced could be shared with larger circles. And perhaps they could pass it along to the Biblioteca Alexandrina, as the library is also working to document the revolution.


Al Masry Al Youm: Bibliotheca Alexandrina begins documenting 25 January revolution. Note that Mahmoud Ezzat, head of the project’s research unit, welcomed all contributions sent via email to

Youssef el-Deeb is also putting together a book and DVD about the revolution and invites your participation.