Moneera Al-Ghadeer is the Fall 2014 Shawwaf Visiting Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.
CMES: You’re teaching two Arabic literature courses this fall, one of which is taught in Arabic: “Invisible Societies in the Contemporary Arabic Novel.” Who are those invisible societies?
AL-GHADEER: Usually they are marked by race, sometimes sexuality, gender: in one of the novels, by the Lebanese writer Huda Barakat, we have a Kurdish woman character who is given a very generous space in the narrative, and she actually narrates her story. Sometimes it’s the question of disability, and we see how these authors problematize those with disability and how they are perceived in society.
This class is also reading not only the literature, but also a number of theorists, not only from the West but also from the Arab world. For this class I also experimented with social media: after getting the agreement of the students we created a hashtag for the course, أدب_هارفارد#, and they are required to post two tweets per week in Arabic, using this hashtag, about the texts that we read. Social media creates this amazing platform to reach out to different communities—some of the authors we are reading follow the critics who retweeted us, so they know what we are reading. I’ve also had some of the authors in Skype conversations with the students, and they enjoyed speaking to them and asking questions about their novels.