SOAS University of London

Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies (CCLPS)

Rita Sakr (Goldsmiths) Imagining Mid-Nineteenth-Century Beirut as a ‘City of the World’


Date: 10 January 2018Time: 3:15 PM

Finishes: 10 January 2018Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: 4429

Type of Event: Talk

This presentation addresses mid-nineteenth-century cultural-geographical dynamics that constructed Beirut as a ‘city of the world’ and how its production forms both a ‘crisis of representation’ and a ‘representation of crisis’. Anchored in a pivotal period in the city’s development from 1858 to 1876, it explores transnational and transhistorical perspectives: in the output of mid-nineteenth-century Beiruti intellectuals and missionaries (including newspapers, public lectures, the encyclopedia, and the memoir), alongside mid-nineteenth-century photography and cartography by military and civilian visitors to Beirut, as well as in twenty-first-century Lebanese historical literature that recreates mid-nineteenth-century Beirut as an overdetermined representational space shaped by the city’s more recent post-war transformations.

Rita Sakr is Lecturer in World Literature at Goldsmiths, University of London. She is the author of Monumental Space in the Post-Imperial Novel: An Interdisciplinary Study (Continuum, 2012; and in paperback, Bloomsbury Academic, 2013), and of ‘Anticipating’ the 2011 Arab Uprisings: Revolutionary Literatures and Political Geographies (Palgrave, 2013). With Caroline Rooney, she is co-editor of The Ethics of Representation in Literature, Art and Journalism: Transnational Responses to the Siege of Beirut (Routledge, 2013) and co-director and co-producer of the RCUK-funded documentary on Beirut, White Flags (2014). With Finn Fordham, she co-edited James Joyce and the Nineteenth-Century French Novel (2011). Her recent publications focus on migration, human rights, and urban studies; her current monograph project is titled Global Arab Literary Geographies.

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