Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies
Eman Morsi's research interests revolve around questions of censorship, modernization and the everyday in modern Arab and Latin American literatures and cultures. These are issues that she approaches through her training in such fields as sociolinguistics, literary criticism, translation studies, comparative literature and postcolonial studies. Her dissertation, The Comedy of Revolution: Ludic Critique, Everyday Life and Narratives of the Nation-State in Egypt and Cuba, 1961-1991, examines the development of a number of literary and artistic tropes that emerged in Egypt and Cuba during the revolutionary period of the mid-twentieth century. The project draws on diverse literary and cultural works, including plays, films, chronicles, poems and uncollected cartoons, published and produced in Egypt and Cuba between 1961—the year when both countries were officially declared socialist—and 1991, after the collapse of the USSR. These sources, which range from the farcical to the tragicomic, use humor and play to invoke the everyday and the everyman as sites on which state policies are inscribed. Her dissertation invokes comedy as the artistic space within which the everyday is performed and through which national specificity is established. It explores the critical yet overlooked roles played by the comic and ludic as means of engaging with, reproducing and complicating official discourse and in the process aiding in the creation of a national identity. In addition to her comparative research, Morsi has special interest in the cultural production of the Arab Nahda (Renaissance), especially its travelogues and literary journalism. She is currently exploring this interest through her research on Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq, one of the first Arab novelists and the owner and editor of the first independent Arabic publishing house and newspaper.