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Egyptian author visiting U. of I. community to talk about Muslim world

Andrea Lynn, Humanities Editor
217-333-2177; andreal@uiuc.edu


3/29/2006

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Sahar Mohammed Hassan Tawfiq, an Egyptian author and translator, is spending a month at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign talking to university and public groups about the Muslim world.

She is a 2005-2006 Fulbright Visiting Specialist in Fulbright’s Direct Access to the Muslim World Program, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The U. of I. is one of 26 U.S. colleges and universities to be selected to host Fulbright Visiting Specialists from Muslim populations around the world during the 2006 spring semester. Marilyn Booth, a professor of comparative and world literature at Illinois, won the Fulbright grant to bring Tawfiq to Illinois. Booth also has translated Tawfiq’s writings into English.

The Fulbright program, begun in 2004, attempts to expand current understanding of Islamic societies and cultures in the classroom and beyond it. Visiting specialists come from many disciplines, including Islamic studies, law, media education, psychology and religion.

In residence on Illinois’ campus until April 22, Tawfiq is speaking to classes, giving lectures or short courses, team-teaching or assisting in program- and
curriculum-development, and meeting with service clubs and with community, religious and school groups.

The themes for her visit are “Arabic Literature and Criticism” and “Islam in the Contemporary Arab World.” Free public events include:

• April 7 (Friday), 7:30 p.m., a lecture, “Modern Egyptian Society through the Eyes of its Women Writers,” Central Illinois Mosque and Islamic Center, 106 S. Lincoln Ave., Urbana.

• April 19 (Wednesday), 4:30 to 6 p.m., PEN Border Crossings Festival, “A Conversation With Sahar Tawfiq,” Illini Union Bookstore, 807 S. Wright St., Champaign.

Tawfiq also plans to meet classes at Unity Junior High School in Philo and at Urbana High School.

A native and resident of Cairo, Tawfiq has written two novels and many short stories, including stories for children. The stories in “Points of the Compass” were selected and translated by Booth. The book won the University of Arkansas Press Arabic Translation Award in 1995.

Tawfiq also is an English-to-Arabic translator, and has translated several academic books, including Maxine Hong Kingston’s “The Woman Warrior” and Margaret Atwood’s “Alias Grace.” Before turning to writing and translating full time, Tawfiq had a career as a teacher and supervisor in the Egyptian school system, 1975 to 2002.

She was a writer-in-residence at the Chateau de Lavigny, Switzerland, and has taken part in numerous conferences on literature in the Arab world and in Copenhagen.

PEN (Poets, Essayists, Novelists) is a New York City-based association seeking to promote freedom of expression by defending authors, encouraging reading and writing and administering literary prizes. Border Crossings, a PEN-sponsored project funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, brings overseas writers in direct contact with U.S. readers, using literature as a bridge for mutual understanding.

Tawfiq’s visit to the university is co-sponsored by the Center for Global Studies, department of linguistics, Program in Comparative and World Literature, Program in South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, and Women and Gender in Global Perspectives.

For more information about Tawfiq’s visit, contact Booth at 217-333-0023; for information about Tawfiq’s lecture at the Central Illinois Mosque, contact Muhammad al-Faruque, Illinois’ Middle Eastern studies librarian, at 217-333-1501; for information regarding the PEN event, contact Chad Post at the Center for Book Culture at 309-438-7555 .