Mary Youssef

Mary Youssef

Assistant Professor of Arabic

Contact Information

Office:  LT 513

Phone:  607-777-3092



PhD, 2012, University of Wisconsin - Madison

MA, 2008, University of Wisconsin - Madison

BA, 1996, Cairo University

Research Interests

Modern and Contemporary Arabic Literature, Postcolonial Studies, World Literature, Genre Studies, Migration Studies, Gender Studies, Arab Women's Writing, African Literature



Rethinking Difference: The Emergence of a New Consciousness in the Contemporary Egyptian Novel. (In progress)

Book Summary

Rethinking Difference: The Emergence of a New Consciousness in the Contemporary Egyptian Novel is a study of novels written by contemporary Egyptian writers that present the Egyptian society as fundamentally heterogeneous, consisting of several groups based on differences in ethnicity, religion, culture, gender, and sexuality. While these novels depict specifically indigenous and immigrant ethnic and religious groups during colonial and postcolonial times, I argue that they exhibit a new consciousness and a critical sensibility towards difference and the complexity of the Egyptian population amidst political, socio-economic, and cultural instabilities in contemporary Egypt. The book examines interactions between conflicting formations such as the modern nation-state and critical cosmopolitanism and Classical Arabic literary culture and vernacular appropriations. An interdisciplinary analysis of these disjunctions reveals the multiplicity of Egyptian experiences of modernity and these writers' positions with respect to history, social change, postcolonialism, and novelistic practices.


"The Aesthetics of Difference: History and Contemporary Representations of Egypt's Others in Idris ᶜAli's al-Nubi and Bahaᵓ Ṭahir's Waḥat al-Ghurub. " Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics: New Paradigms in the Study of Modern "Middle Eastern" Literature . No. 35, 2015. (forthcoming)

"Historical Transformations: The Rise of a New-consciousness Novel in Egypt." New Literary History . (in progress)

Book Reviews

Review of Urban Space in Contemporary Egyptian Literature: Portraits of Cairo by Mara Naaman. International Journal of Islamic Architecture. 3.1. 2014: 201-4. Print.


Fall 2014: The Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) Faculty Fellowship, Binghamton University.

Scholarly Presentations


"Praksa, or Breaking Rule(s): Aristophanes, Tawfiq al-Hakim, and Egypt's "First Broadway-style" Musical Comedy. (November), Panel: Musical Politics in the Interwar Maghrib," Annual Meeting of the Middle Eastern Studies Association, Washington DC.


"Rethinking Difference: Racial and Cultural Diversity in Bahaᶜ Ṭahir's Waḥat al-Ghurub ." (October), Panel: "Race, Ethnicity, and Politics in North African History, Literature and Culture." Annual Meeting of the Middle Eastern Studies Association, New Orleans.

"The Irrecuperable Heterogeneity of the Present: Change and Revolution in ᶜAlaᶜ al- Aswani's novel, Shikaghu " (April), Seminar: "Taking Time, Third Time: Decolonization and the Un-syncing of Global Standard Time," Annual Meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association, University of Toronto.


"ͨAlaᶜ al-Aswani's Prediction of the Egyptian Revolution in Limadha La Yathuru al-Miṣriyyun" (September), The "Arab Spring" and the Humanities Symposium. Institute for Research in the Humanities, University of Wisconsin-Madison.


"The Reading of Cosmopolitanism in Times of Conflict in Bahaᶜ Tahir's Khalti Safiyya wa al-Dayr and Waḥat al-Ghurub " (March), Seminar: "Resurgent Arabic Literatures," Annual Meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association, Harvard University.


Spring 2015

  • Arabic 116:  Egyptian Spoken Arabic/Arab Script II
  • Arabic 380B:  The Postcolonial Arabic Novel

Fall 2014

  • Arabic 115:  Egyptian Spoken Arabic/Arab Script I

Spring 2014

  • Arabic 306:  Advanced Standard Arabic II

Fall 2013

  • Arabic 382B:  Arabic Literary Transformations
  • Arabic 280C:  Egyptian Arabic III
  • Arabic 305:  Advanced Standard Arabic I

Spring 2013

  • Arabic 380B:  The Postcolonial Arabic Novel
  • Arabic 380C:  Arabic Conversation, Grammar, and Translation
  • Arabic 102:  Elementary Arabic II

Fall 2012

  • Arabic 101:  Elementary Arabic I
  • Arabic 203:  Intermediate Arabic I

Last Updated: 8/2/16