Margaret Litvin, an associate professor of Arabic and comparative literature at Boston University, studies the transnational entanglements of modern Arabic literature and theater. Her first book, Hamlet’s Arab Journey: Shakespeare’s Prince and Nasser’s Ghost (Princeton University Press, 2011), has appeared on syllabi for courses on theater history, comparative literature, and anthropology of the Middle East. Her translations from Arabic include Sonallah Ibrahim’s Moscow-set novel Ice (Seagull, 2019) and several plays. With the historians Eileen Kane and Masha Kirasirova, she coedited Russian-Arab Worlds: A Documentary History (Oxford University Press, forthcoming).
Litvin’s current project, “Another East: Arab Writers, Moscow Dreams,” continues the effort to situate Arabic cultural production in its global context. The book reconstructs some literary legacies of Arab cultural ties with Russia and the Soviet Union through such cases as Arabic translations of Tolstoy in his lifetime; Arabs’ study abroad narratives about the USSR; and post-1990 novels and films by Arab women. Demonstrating that “How did Russian culture influence Arabic literature?” is the wrong question, the book asks, rather, what cultural hungers Russian books and experiences have fed for Arab writers, what rhetorical interventions they have enabled, and what artistic ends they have served.
Litvin holds a PhD from the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought. Her work has been recognized with ACLS Frederick Burkhardt, Humboldt Research, and Mellon Fellowships. At BU, she teaches Arabic and world literature, global Shakespeares, translation, and Middle East studies and is part of the new MFA in Literary Translation program.