Matthew Brauer (PhD, French and Francophone Studies, Northwestern University) is Visiting Assistant Professor at Northwestern University. He studies Maghrebi literatures (primarily in French and Arabic) from the nineteenth century to the present in comparative contexts around the Mediterranean. His research and teaching track the changing ways that literature relates (or is made to relate) to politics, especially through the transformations of literature and literary theory in circulation and translation and the interactions of literary and non-literary discourses (such as archaeology and anthropology).
His current research project reconsiders the thresholds of literary modernity in French and Arabic writing, generally tied to colonial independence on the one hand and the cultural nahḍa (awakening) on the other, by examining the mutual articulation of these two languages in self-consciously “modern” forms like the novel and the periodical press that propose new configurations of language, territory, and modernity, from Aḥmad Fāris al-Shidyāq’s genre- and language-bending travels around the Mediterranean in Al-sāq ‘alā al-sāq to Assia Djebar’s excavation of the discourses and silences of the colonial archive in L’amour, la fantasia, and from El Hack, the first newspaper owned by Algerian Muslims under French rule, to Souffles-Anfās, the seminal Moroccan cultural and political journal of the 1960s.
He is preparing a book manuscript, Looking at Time: Rewriting History in the Maghrebi Novel, that proposes a new configuration of the Maghrebi literary corpus across its languages and its history prior to independence. Beginning with the emergence of multilingual print cultures in the nineteenth century, the book reads together postcolonial novels in French and Arabic by Algerian, Moroccan, and Tunisian writers in light of this long history of colonial and precolonial writings.
He teaches courses on nineteenth- and twentieth-century literatures and cultures from a comparative perspective, presenting French-language writing practices in the classroom in historical and critical dialogue with other traditions, especially in Arabic and English, using translation as a key pedagogical tool and analytic for discussion.