About

Dr Rashwan is a scholar of Arabic and Comparative Poetics. He holds a PhD in Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies from SOAS, University of London.  He is the recipient of the International Society for the History of Rhetoric (ISHR) Research Fellowship in 2015. His PhD research offers new criticism and analysis of ancient Egyptian literary devices based on Arabic-Semitic methodology, with full consideration of the unique visual nature of the Arabic and ancient Egyptian scripts.

In 2016, he earned his PhD after defending a thesis on Arabic jinas, or what can loosely be termed ‘wordplay,’ ‘paronomasia’, or ‘pun,’ examined through a comparative lens with ancient Egyptian rhetorical traditions. Jinās is one of the most critical literary devices present throughout Quran, Hadith, Arabic poetry, literary prose, songs, and proverbs, because it covers an array of phonetic, semantic, and graphic associations between words that have similar forms but with different meanings. Using Arabic poetic traditions, he was able to rediscover ancient literary registers and tones, which had been entirely obliterated when studied in Western rhetorical traditions.

The thesis will be published as a monograph with The American University in Cairo Press in early 2022. The book has received eight endorsements from eminent international scholars of Middle Eastern Literatures.     

Following completion of his PhD in 2016, he held an Andrew W Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at the American University of Beirut, where, in addition to undertaking his research, he participated in organising conferences, seminar series and public talks. 

He was successful in obtaining additional funding from the Andrew W Mellon Foundation to organise a significant international conference titled Post-Eurocentric poetics: new approaches from Arabic, Turkish and Persian Literature. He co-edited the conference proceedings with Prof Rebecca Gould, which are due to be published in 2022 by the British Academy: Oxford University Press.

Thereafter, he has been involved in various cutting-edge research projects in the field of Arabic Poetics and Comparative Literature. He is a Research Fellow of Arabic Literary Theory at the University of Birmingham working on the Global Literary Theory project funded by ERC which aims to reinvigorate comparative disciplines by engaging with overlooked literary-theoretical traditions Arabic, Persian, Turkic, and Georgian. I lead the strand on Arabic literature.

He has co-organised six international conferences. In July 2021, he co-organised “Pre-modern comparative literary practice in the multilingual Islamic worlds” hosted at Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation. The conference opened new horizons for cross-cultural poetics that incorporate non-European philosophies of comparative criticism and literary interpretation, to address the inefficiency of Euro-American poetics and to cross the boundaries of the West-centric mode of thinking. The proceedings will be co-edited by the co-organisers and published in 2022 by the British Academy: Oxford University Press.

He is dedicated to engaging the public in dialogue about the role of literature in our society, particularly on critically analysing and interpreting religious texts in service of subduing extremism.

He has been invited to lecture publically twenty-six times in numerous universities and organisations, to speak on various features of Arabic and comparative poetics, in places as prestigious as The British Library, The British Museum, Alexandria Bibliotheca, The Egyptian Museum of Cairo, and the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Leiden and Columbia.

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