Marilyn Booth


Associate Faculty Member

Faculty/College Address:

Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies / Magdalen College


Research interests:

  • early feminisms and nationalist/Islamic discourses amongst Arabic-speaking communities and comparatively
  • emergence of Arabic fiction and conduct literature in the 19th century and their relation to gender activisms
  • feminisms, femininities and masculinities in Arabic literature
  • auto/biography in Arabophone and Francophone Middle East/North Africa
  • literature and politics of Arabic colloquials
  • literary translation—theory and practice
  • literature, censorship and incarceration
  • history of Arabic periodicals, especially the satirical press and the women’s press
  • visual and written caricature in Arabic periodicals 
  • emergence of print culture, publishing history, formation of readerships and discourses on reading


Current and envisioned research projects:

  • monograph, on Zaynab Fawwaz (c1850-1914) and the politics of gender and nation in Egypt
  • monograph, Diaphanous Selves:  Finding Women’s Autobiographical Practices in Egypt, 1885-1930
  • Translation, adaptation and circulation of texts in the eastern Mediterranean and beyond, 18th-early 20th centuries: Research network, initially funded by the Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World, University of Edinburgh; and then by the Higher Studies Fund, University of Oxford. Workshop held in Edinburgh, December 2015; second workshop, Oxford, Sept. 2017. Edited book in progress.
  • Female writers and 19th-century Arabic fiction (with a focus also on female readership, translation, and discourses of publishing, Egypt 1870-1930 in a Middle East/S. Asia context)
  • [possible future project] colloquial poetry, satirical prose, and caricature in the Egyptian press, 1880s-1920
  • practice-based and activist-oriented research on contemporary practices of Arabic literary translation, especially first-author/second-author [translator] interactions and the politics of publishing and marketing


Courses taught:

For FHS Arabic and EMEL: Further/special subject papers: Harems, homes and streets: Gender and space in the Middle East (texts all in English translation); al-Nahda: Literature and cultural activism in the Arab 19th Century (primary texts in Arabic)

For MMES: Option papers: The Harem and the body: Gender and space in the Middle East (texts all in English translation with some optionally read in Arabic); al-Nahda: Literature and cultural activism in the Arab 19th Century (primary texts in Arabic) (as special option).

Module on gender/nationalism, MMES Core Paper.


Publications since 2008:

Single-Authored Books

Classes of Ladies of Cloistered Spaces: Writing Feminist History through Biography in Fin-de-Siècle Egypt. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015.

May Her Likes Be Multiplied: Biography and Gender Politics in Egypt. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2001. Translated into Arabic as: Shahirat al-nisa’: Adab al-tarajim wa-siyasiyyat al-naw’ fi Misr. Trans. Sahar Tawfiq. Cairo: Al-Markaz al-qawmi lil-tarjama (no. 1265), 2008.

Edited books and special journal issues

(with N. Davidson) 25 Years of Revolution: Comparing revolt and transition from Europe 1989 to the Arab World 2014. Special Issue, Journal of Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe 23: 2-3 (August 2015). Introduction, pp. 99-103.

(with A. Gorman) The Long 1890s in Egypt: Colonial Quiescence, Subterranean Resistance. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.

Women’s Autobiography in South Asia and the Middle East: Defining a Genre. Special Issue, Journal of Women’s History 25: 2 (Summer 2013).

Harem Histories: Envisioning Places and Living Spaces.  Durham and London:  Duke University Press, 2010.

Book Chapters, 2006-17

Women and the Emergence of the Arabic Novel. Chapter 7 in The Oxford Handbook to the Arabic Novel, ed. Wa’il Hassan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017).

Disruptions of the Local, Eruptions of the Feminine: Local Reportage and National Anxieties in Egypt’s 1890s. The Press in the Middle East and North Africa, 1850-1950: Politics, Social History and Culture, ed. Anthony Gorman and Didier Monciaud (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming ??) [‘in press’ since c2008].

‘Go directly home with decorum’: Conduct books for Egypt’s young, c.1912. Chapter 22 in Mind, Body and Soul: Arabic and Islamic Studies, ed. Joseph E. Lowry and Shawkat M. Toorawa (Leiden: Brill, 2017), 393-415.

Three’s a Crowd: The Translator-Author-Publisher and the Engineering of Girls of Riyadh for an Anglophone Readership. Translating Women: Different Voices and New Horizons, ed. Farzaneh Farahzad and Luise von Flutow (London: Routledge, 2017), 105-19.

Liberal Thought and the “Problem” of Women. Arabic Thought beyond the Liberal Age: Towards an Intellectual History of the Nahda, ed. Jens Hanssen and Max Weiss (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), 187-213.

Fiction’s Histories: Writers and Readers in the Middle East. Shifting Sands: The Unravelling of the Old Order in the Middle East, ed. Raja Shehadeh and Penny Johnson (London: Profile Books, 2015), 171-84.

Ataturk Becomes ‘Antar: Nationalist-Vernacular Politics and Epic Heroism in 1920s Egypt. Studying Modern Arabic Literature: Mustafa Badawi, Scholar and Critic, ed. Roger Allen and Robin Ostle (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015), 118-38.

Before Qasim Amin:  Writing histories of gender politics in 1890s Egypt. The Long 1890s in Egypt: Colonial Quiescence, Subterranean Resistance, ed. Marilyn Booth and Anthony Gorman (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014), 365-98.

Insistent Localism in a Satiric World:  Shaykh Naggar’s “Reed-Pipe” in the 1890s Cairene Press.  Chapter 3 in Asian Punches: A Transcultural Affair, ed. Hans Harder and Barbara Mittler (New York and Heidelberg: Springer Verlag, 2013. Ser. Heidelberg Studies on Asia and Europe in a Global Context), 187-218.

What’s in a Name? Branding Punch in Cairo, 1908. Chapter 6 in Asian Punches: A Transcultural Affair, ed. Hans Harder and Barbara Mittler (New York and Heidelberg: Springer Verlag, 2013, Ser. Heidelberg Studies on Asia and Europe in a Global Context), 271-303.

Constructions of Syrian Identity in the Women’s Press in Egypt. The Origins of Syrian Nationhood: Histories, pioneers and identity, ed. Adel Beshara (London: Routledge, 2011), 223-52.

Between the Harem and the Houseboat: Fallenness, Gendered Spaces and the Female National Subject in 1920s Egypt. Harem Histories: Envisioning Places and Living Spaces, ed. Marilyn Booth (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2010), 342-73.

‘A’isha ‘Ismat bint Isma’il Taymur. Essays in Arabic Literary Biography 1850-1950, ed. Roger Allen (Weisbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2010, 366-76.

Zaynab Fawwaz al-‘Amili. Essays in Arabic Literary Biography 1850-1950, ed. Roger Allen (Weisbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2010), 93-98.

Who Gets to Become the Liberal Subject? Ventriloquized Memoirs and the Individual in 1920s Egypt. Liberal Thought in the Eastern Mediterranean, Late 19th Century until the 1960s, ed. Christoph Schumann (Leiden: Brill, 2008), 267-92.

Babies or the Ballot? Women’s Constructions of the Great War in Egypt. The First World War as Remembered in the Countries of the Eastern Mediterranean, ed. Olaf Farschid, Manfred Kropp, and Stephan Dähne (Beirut and Wurzburg: Ergon Verlag, 2006, Ser. Beiruter Texte und Studien, Band 99), 75-90.

On Gender, History… and Fiction. Middle East Historiographies: Narrating the Twentieth Century, ed. Israel Gershoni, Amy Singer, and Y. Hakan Erdem (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2006), 211-41.

Fiction’s Imaginative Archive and the Newspaper’s Local Scandals: The Case of Nineteenth-Century Egypt. Archive Stories: Facts, Fictions, and the Writing of History, ed. Antoinette Burton (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006), 274-95.

Journal articles, 2006-17

Islamic politics, street literature and John Stuart Mill:  Composing gendered ideals in 1990s Egypt. Feminist Studies 39: 3 (Fall 2013): 1-32 (appeared early 2014).

Locating women’s autobiographical writing in colonial Egypt. Special issue: Women’s Autobiography in South Asia and the Middle East, ed. Marilyn Booth, Journal of Women’s History 25: 2 (Summer 2013): 36-60.

House as novel, novel as house: The global, the intimate, and the terrifying in contemporary Egyptian literature. Journal of Postcolonial Writing 47: 4 (Sept. 2011): 377-90.

The Muslim Woman as celebrity author and the politics of translating Arabic: Girls of Riyadh go on the road. Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies 6: 3 (Fall 2010): 149-82.

Translator v. author (2007): Girls of Riyadh go to New York. Translation Studies 1: 2 (July 2008): 197-211.

Exploding into the Seventies: Ahmad Fu’ad Nigm, Shaykh Imam, and the Aesthetics of a New Youth Politics. Cairo Papers in Social Science. Special Issue: Political and Social Protest in Egypt. 29: 2/3 (Summer/Fall 2006; published Cairo, 2009): 19-44.

From the Horse’s Rump and the Whorehouse Keyhole: Ventriloquized Memoirs as Political Voice in 1920s Egypt.  Maghreb Review 32: 2-3 (2007): 233-61.

Translated books, 2006-17

Celestial Bodies, by Jokha Alharthi. (Jukha al-Harithi, Sayyidat al-qamar, Beirut, 2012). Sandstone Press, forthcoming.

No Road to Paradise, by Hassan Daoud (Hasan Dawud, La tariq ila al-janna, Beirut, 2013). Winner of the Naguib Mahfouz Prize, 2015. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2016.

The Penguin’s Song, by Hassan Daoud (Hasan Dawud, Ghina’ al-batrik, Beirut, 1998). San Francisco, CA: City Lights, 2014.

As Though She Were Sleeping, by Elias Khoury (Ilyas Khuri, Ka’annaha na’imatun, Beirut, 2007).  Brooklyn, NY:  Archipelago Books, 2012.

Girls of Riyadh, by Rajaa Alsanea (Raja’ ‘Abdallah al-Sani’, Banat al-Riyadh, London, 2005), New York: The Penguin Press, London: Fig Tree, 2007.  At the author’s and press’s request, and after changes made to the translation without my input, this is listed as co-translated with the author.

The Loved Ones, by Alia Mamdouh (Al-Mahbubat, London and Beirut, 2003), Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2006; New York: The Feminist Press, 2007.  Winner of the Naguib Mahfouz Prize.

Thieves in Retirement, by Hamdi Abu Golayyel (Lusus mutaqa’idun, Cairo, 2003). Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2006; Cairo, Egypt: American University Press, 2007.  Runner-up, Saif al-Ghobashi Banipal International Arabic Translation Award (U.K.) 2007.

Disciples of Passion, by Hoda Barakat (Ahl al-hawa, Beirut, 1993). Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2005. Cairo, Egypt: American University Press, 2006.

The Tiller of Waters, by Hoda Barakat (Harith al-miyah, Beirut, 1998). Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2001 (Winner of the Naguib Mahfouz Prize). London: Arabia Books, 2008.

Photograph of Marilyn Booth