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We Wrote in Symbols: Love and Lust by Arab Women Writers

We Wrote in Symbols: Love and Lust by Arab Women Writers

Fri, 11 Jun 2021 15:00 - 17:00 British Summer Time (UTC+1)

Register here.

Arabic Stories and Poetry in Translation is a series of CHASE-funded workshops held at Birkbeck and SOAS, University of London.

About this event

Arabic Poetry and Stories in Translation Workshop: We Wrote in Symbols” features Selma Dabbagh and Emily Selove. They will explore works from the recent anthology edited by Selma, We Wrote in Symbols: Love and Lust by Arab Women Writers (Saqi Books, 2021), which includes a story that Emily co-translated.

The programme is divided into two parts, with this workshop taking place 3-5 pm (BST), and the public event held 6-7 pm (BST), through a separate booking.

Participants will be looking closely at some of the passages from Zad Mihr’s letters, discussing Emily’s translation choices, as well as studying the manuscript traditions and variations, attempting some writing/translating themselves.

Knowledge of the Arabic language is preferable but not necessary. The workshops proposed are targeted at PhD students, other interested students, independent translators and scholars from different academic fields. The group sessions will provide the scope to be innovative about participation and collaboration for literary creativity.

The workshops are free to attend, but registration is required and spaces are limited. Material for the workshop will be sent ahead of the session. Attendees will receive a discount code of 30% off to purchase We Wrote in Symbols.

Please note this workshop will be recorded and made available online.

More details available at: https://arabicstories.poetry.blog/

For queries, email the organizers at: arabictranslationworkshops@bbk.ac.uk

We Wrote in Symbols: Love and Lust by Arab Women Writers is a unique collection of the voices of 75 writers, from the classical to the contemporary, that spans over 3,000 years of women’s writing on the erotic. The collection comprises prose, in the form of short stories and novel excerpts, as well as poetry and one letter, written by the concubine Zad-Mihr, sent from 11th-century Basra to her master in Baghdad. We Wrote In Symbols combines previously published writing with new work and includes writers long deceased, with contemporary writers, many of whom (Ahdaf Soueif, Leïla Slimani, Hoda Barakat, Nathalie Handal, Randa Jarrar, Adania Shibli, Salwa al Neimi, Sabrina Mahfouz) are highly acclaimed, others who have never been published in English previously (for example, Farah Barqawi, Hiba Moustafa, Samia Issa). The writers, some of whom are anonymous and others of whom write under pseudonyms, write in English, French and Arabic and come from the three monotheistic religions, or none. An eclectic collection that presents the intelligent, irreverent, sexy, humorous and tender voices of women identified with the region, it subverts monolithic assumptions of the region and the people identified with it.

Selma Dabbagh is a British Palestinian writer of fiction. Born in Dundee, she has lived in Bahrain, Cairo, Kuwait, Jeddah, Grenoble and Jerusalem. She now lives in London. Her short stories have been published by Granta, Wasafiri, Saqi and International PEN. Her first novel, ‘Out of It,’ (Bloomsbury) was set between Gaza, London and the Gulf and was a Guardian Book of the Year. Selma has also written radio plays The Brick (BBC Radio 4) that was nominated for an Imison Award and a futuristic play set in Palestine in 2048, Sleep It Off, Dr. Schott, produced by WDR in Germany. She has also written for the stage and the screen. Her work has appeared in a number of Saqi anthologies, Qissat; Short Stories by Palestinian Women (ed. Jo Glanville, 2006) as well as The Things I Would Tell You; British Muslim Women Write (edited by Sabrina Mahfouz, 2017). We Wrote In Symbols; Love and Lust by Arab Women Writers (Saqi, 2021) is her first edited collection.

Emily Selove (PhD 2012, UCLA) is a senior lecturer in Medieval Arabic Language and Literature at the University of Exeter. Her early research focused on the figure of the uninvited guest (or “party-crasher”) in medieval Arabic literature, and especially on the 11th-century work Ḥikāyat Abī l-Qāsim, the subject of her monograph, Ḥikāyat Abī l-Qāsim: A Literary Banquet (Edinburgh University Press, 2016). She co-edited and translated this text with Professor Geert Jan van Gelder. Her translation of another 11th-century book of party-crashing is titled Selections from the Art of Party-Crashing in Medieval Iraq. She recently edited a co-authored textbook to introduce beginning students to the city of medieval Baghdad, Baghdad at the Centre of a World: 8th-13th Century, and has also created a collection of cartoons titled Popeye and Curly: 120 Days in Medieval Baghdad, to accompany this textbook.

Dr Selove was a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Manchester from 2012-2014, working on the ERC-funded Arabic Commentaries on the Hippocratic Aphorisms project. She has articles published and in progress on medieval Arabic medicine and magic. She is currently the PI of a Leverhulme-funded research project, “A Sorcerer’s Handbook,” which will create an edition, translation, and literary study of Sirāj al-Dīn al-Sakkākī’s (d. 1229) magic handbook, Kitāb al-Shāmil wa-baḥr al-kāmil (The Book of the Complete).

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