Past Events

Spring 2021

Literature as Archive: A Reading & Conversation I
Friday, January 15th, 2021 12:00 pm EST/17:00 pm BST/19:00 pm EET

Amir Ahmadi Arian started his writing career as a journalist in Iran. He has published two novels, a collection of stories, and a book of nonfiction in Persian. He also translated from English to Persian novels by E.L. Doctorow, Paul Auster, P.D. James, and Cormac McCarthy. Since 2013, he has been writing and publishing exclusively in English. In recent years, his work has appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, LRB, and Lithub. He holds a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Queensland, Australia, and an MFA in creative writing from NYU. He currently teaches literature and creative writing at City College, New York.

Isabella Hammad was born in London and lives between London and New York. Her first novel The Parisian won a 2019 Palestine Book Award and will be translated into fifteen languages. She was awarded the 2020 Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Betty Trask Award, and the 2018 Plimpton Prize for Fiction, and she was a 2019 National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Honoree.

Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi is the author of Call Me Zebra, winner of the 2019 PEN/Faulkner Award, the John Gardner Fiction Award and longlisted for the PEN/Open Book Award. She is a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree and a Whiting Writers Award Winner. Her novel, Savage Tongues, is forthcoming in 2021. She is the Director of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Notre Dame and a Fellow of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. 

This conversation will be moderated by Hana Morgenstern, University Lecturer in Postcolonial and Middle East Literature at Cambridge University and a Fellow at Newnham College.

Dr. Hana Morgenstern is a scholar, writer and translator. She is University Lecturer in Postcolonial and Middle East Literature at Cambridge University and a Fellow at Newnham College. Dr Morgenstern is co-director of the Documents of the Arab Left and the Revolutionary Papers projects and co-convener of the Archives of the Disappeared seminar. She is currently at work on a book manuscript titled, Literary Infiltrators: Anticolonial Collaboration in Palestine/Israel. 

This event is co-sponsored and co-organized with Archives of the Disappeared Research Seminar, University of Cambridge. 


Literature as Archive: A Reading & Conversation II
Friday, February 19th, 2021 12:00 pm EST/17:00 pm BST/19:00 pm EET

Elias Khoury, born in Beirut, is the author of thirteen novels, four volumes of literary criticism, and three plays.   He was awarded the Palestine Prize for Gate of the Sun, which was named Best Book of the Year by Le Monde Diplomatique, The Christian Science Monitor, and The San Francisco Chronicle, and a Notable Book by The New York Times.  Khoury’s Yalo, White Masks, Little Mountain, The Journey of Little Gandhi, City Gates, and Children of the Ghetto are also available in English. Khoury is a Global Distinguished Professor of Middle Eastern and Arabic Studies at New York University, and has taught at Columbia University, the Lebanese University, the American University of Beirut, and the Lebanese American University. As Though She Were Sleeping received France’s inaugural Arabic Novel Prize.


susan abulhawa is a novelist, poet, essayist, scientist, mother, and activist.  Her debut novel Mornings in Jenin (Bloomsbury, 2010), translated into 30 languages, is considered a classic in Anglophile Palestinian literature.  Its reach and sales has made abulhawa the most widely read Palestinian author.  Her second novel, The Blue Between Sky and Water (Bloomsbury, 2015), was likewise an international bestseller.  Against the Loveless World (Simon & Schuster, 2020) was out in August.  She is also the author of a poetry collection, My Voice Sought The Wind (Just World Books, 2013), contributor to several anthologies, political commentator, and frequent speaker.  Abulhawa is the founder of Playgrounds for Palestine, a children’s organization dedicated to uplifting Palestinian children.  She is also co-chair of Palestine Writes, the first North American Palestinian literature festival.

This conversation will be introduced by Hana Morgenstern, University Lecturer in Postcolonial and the Middle East Literature at Cambridge University and a Fellow at Newnham College and will be moderated by Hilary Rantisi, Associate Director of the Religion, Conflict and Peace Initiative and Senior Fellow at the Religious Literacy Project at Harvard Divinity School, Mezna Qato, historian of the modern Middle East and Margaret Anstee Centre Research Fellow at Newnham College at Cambridge University, and Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi, Director of Creative Writing at the University of Notre Dame.  This event is co-sponsored and co-organized with Archives of the Disappeared Research Seminar, University of Cambridge and the Religion, Conflict, and Peace Initiative at Harvard University, https://rpl.hds.harvard.edu/programs/religion-conflict-peace.  

Dr. Hana Morgenstern is a scholar, writer, and translator. She is University Lecturer in Postcolonial and Middle East Literature at Cambridge University and a Fellow at Newnham College. Dr Morgenstern is co-director of the Documents of the Arab Left and the Revolutionary Papers projects and co-convener of the Archives of the Disappeared seminar. She is currently at work on a book manuscript titled, Literary Infiltrators: Anticolonial Collaboration in Palestine/Israel. 

Hilary Rantisi, Associate Director of the Religion, Conflict and Peace Initiative and Senior Fellow at the Religious Literacy Project at Harvard Divinity School.  She has over a decade and a half of experience in institution building at Harvard. Previously, she was Director of the Middle East Initiative (MEI) at Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She received her Master’s degree in Middle East Studies from the University of Chicago. Prior to joining Harvard, she worked with civil society organizations in Israel-Palestine, which focused on religion, politics, and grassroots mobilization efforts in Jerusalem. She co-edited Our Story: The Palestinians in 1999, and has been an active public speaker on issues pertaining to the Middle East region. Hilary is a native Arabic speaker.

Dr. Mezna Qato is historian of the modern Middle East, and in particular of migration, development, and social histories of Palestinian refugee and exile communities. She was previously a Spencer Fellow at the National Academy of Education, and Junior Research Fellow at King’s College, Cambridge. She is currently completing a book on the history of education for Palestinians.  Her research and teaching interests centre on histories and theories of social, economic and political transformation amongst refugee and stateless communities, the politics and practice of archives, and global micro-histories of movements and collectivities in the Middle East. She also co-convenes the Archives of the Disappeared Research Network at the Margaret Anstee Centre and the Centre for Research in Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities.

Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi is the author of Call Me Zebra, winner of the 2019 PEN/Faulkner Award, the John Gardner Fiction Award and longlisted for the PEN/Open Book Award. She is a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree and a Whiting Writers Award Winner. Her novel, Savage Tongues, is forthcoming in 2021. She is the Director of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Notre Dame and a Fellow of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. 


Literatures in Translation: A Reading & Conversation
Friday, March 5th, 2021 12:00 pm EST

Pedro Blas Julio Romero is one of the best-known and beloved poets writing in Colombia today. Truly “un poeta popular,” his poems are on plaques along the streets of Cartagena, and people shout his name when his walks by. A poet of history, myth, and memory, he weds surrealism and Negritude to create a confounding poetics commensurate with the complexities, contradictions, and aspirations of the poor black neighborhood of his youth, Getsemaní. Blas is the author of four volumes of poetry: Cartas del soldado desconocido (Letters from an Unknown Soldier), 1971, Poemas de calle Lomba (Poems from Lomba Street), 1988, and  Rumbos (Routes), 1993, that won the National Prize for Poetry, “Jorge Artel,” and helped to cement Blas’ place in Colombian literature. Also, Obra Poética (Poetic Works), 2009, a compendium of the previous three volumes, is included in La Biblioteca de Literatura Afrocolombiana (the Afro-Colombian Library): a nineteen-volume collection of literary works by Colombia’s most noted black writers. Steeped in the rhythms and gestures of Afro-Colombian and Amerindian expressive culture, Blas often reads his poetry accompanied by a jazz band. Dense in imagery, often disorienting, yet rhythmic and melodic, his is a tactile poetry of accumulation, overflow, and excess, resulting in dynamic portraits of Afro-Colombian and African diasporic life more broadly.

This conversation will feature the discussant, Nohora A. Arrieta Fernández, a PhD candidate at Georgetown University, a ACLS/Mellon Dissertation fellow, and a Research Associate at the Afro-Latin American Institute (Harvard University), and be moderated by Mark Sanders, Professor of English and Director of the Center of Race at the University of Notre Dame and Alison Rice, Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies and the Chair of the Romance Languages Department at the University of Notre Dame.

Nohora A. Arrieta Fernández is a PhD candidate at Georgetown University, a ACLS/Mellon Dissertation fellow, and a Research Associate at the Afro-Latin American Institute (Harvard University). Her primary research interests are Latin American literature and cultural studies, post-colonial theory, visual culture, and the studies of the African Diaspora. Nohora is a former Fulbright Fellow (2014-2016). Before entering the doctoral program at Georgetown, she had a long tenure as an editorial assistant at Literatura, Teoría, Crítica (Universidad Nacional de Colombia), and Biblioteca de Autores Afrocolombianos. Currently, she is editing and co-translating with professor Mark Sanders the poetry of Afro-Colombian poets Romulo Bustos and Pedro Blas Julio, and co-editing a coming issue of Transition Magazine (Hutchins Center at Harvard) about black arts in Brazil.

Alison Rice is Chair of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at Notre Dame. She specializes in 20th- and 21st-century French and Francophone literature and film. Her first book, Time Signatures: Contextualizing Contemporary Francophone Autobiographical Writing from the Maghreb (Lexington Books 2006), closely examines the work of Hélène Cixous, Assia Djebar, and Abdelkébir Khatibi. Her second book, Polygraphies: Francophone Women Writing Algeria (University of Virginia Press, 2012), focuses on autobiographical writings by seven prominent Francophone women writers from Algeria. She is the editor of a forthcoming volume titled Transpositions: Migration, Translation, Music (Liverpool University Press, 2021) that explores a wide range of innovations in Francophone film, literature, theater, and art. Her current book project, inspired by a series of filmed interviews she conducted in Paris, constitutes an in-depth examination of the present proliferation of women writers of French from around the world.

Mark A. Sanders is Professor of English and Africana Studies at the University of Notre Dame, where he specializes in twentieth-century and contemporary American, African American, and Afro-Latin American literature and culture.  Currently, he is editing and co-translating, with Nohora A. Arrieta Fernández, the poetry of Afro-Colombian poets Romulo Bustos and Pedro Blas Julio Romero.


The Aesthetics of Annihilation: A Brief Screening & Conversation
Friday, April 9th, 2021 12:00 pm EST


Ruth Zylberman
was born in 1971 in Paris. She is a writer and documentary filmmaker. Her filmography credentials include: Paris-Fantômes (2002) Dissidents (2009), 209 rue Saint-Maur, Paris Xe (2017), 1939, A Last Summer (2019). Her novel, La Direction de l’Absent (2015, Ed. Christian Bourgois) was translated in English (The Department of Missing People, Arcade Publishing), German and Spanish. 

She recently published 209 rue Saint-Maur, Paris Xe, Autobiographie d’un immeuble (2020, Le Seuil/Arte-Editions).  She curretly resides in Paris, France.

This conversation will feature the discussant, Olivier Morel, Joint Associate Professor in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre and the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Notre Dame, and be moderated by Ernesto Verdeja, Associate Professor of Political Science and Peace Studies, and Ricky Herbst, Cinema Program Director at the University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.

A French and American scholar and filmmaker, Olivier Morel is the director of several feature-length nonfiction films (documentaries) and the author of essays including one graphic novel with the artist and writer Maël. His academic work, as well as his films, highlight the importance of creation and the arts (music, literature, cinema, photography) in the perception of historical events. He is a joint associate professor in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre and the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.

Ernesto Verdeja is Associate Professor of Political Science and Peace Studies at Notre Dame. His research focuses on the causes and prevention of genocide and mass atrocities, as well as on political reconciliation and transitional justice. Ernesto also frequently consults on mass atrocities prevention and early warning with governments and human rights organizations.

Ricky Herbst serves as the Cinema Program Director at the University of Notre Dame. His initiatives include Learning Beyond the Classics (a community film education program) offered within the Browning Cinema as well as various series and festivals highlighting gender, race, labor, class, and queer issues. His scholarship has focused on the interrelation of law, entertainment, and criminology.


The Poetics of Exile: NYC, Tehran, Paris
Friday, May 7th, 2021 12:00 pm EST


Négar Djavadi 
was born in Iran in 1969 to a family of intellectuals opposed to the regimes both of the Shah, then of Khomeini. She arrived in France at the age of eleven, having crossed the mountains of Kurdistan on horseback with her mother and sister. She is a screenwriter and lives in Paris. Disoriental is her first novel. Her second novel came out in France in September 2020.


Salar Abdoh was born in Iran and splits his time between Tehran and New York City. He is the author of the novels Tehran at TwilightThe Poet Game, and Opium, and he is the editor of Tehran Noir. He teaches in the MFA program at the City College of New York. Out of Mesopotamia is his latest novel. He is the recipient of the NYFA Prize and the National Endowment for the Arts award.

This conversation will be moderated by Hana Morgenstern, University Lecturer in Postcolonial and Middle East Literature at Cambridge University and a Fellow at Newnham College, and Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi, Director of Creative Writing at the University of Notre Dame.

Dr. Hana Morgenstern is a scholar, writer, and translator. She is University Lecturer in Postcolonial and Middle East Literature at Cambridge University and a Fellow at Newnham College. Dr. Morgenstern is co-director of the Documents of the Arab Left and the Revolutionary Papers projects and co-convener of the Archives of the Disappeared seminar. She is currently at work on a book manuscript titled, Literary Infiltrators: Anticolonial Collaboration in Palestine/Israel. 

Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi is the author of Call Me Zebra, winner of the 2019 PEN/Faulkner Award, the John Gardner Fiction Award and longlisted for the PEN/Open Book Award. She is a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree and a Whiting Writers Award Winner. Her novel, Savage Tongues, is forthcoming in 2021. She is the Director of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Notre Dame and a Fellow of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.