Margaret Litvin

Associate Professor of Arabic & Comparative Literature
STH 634
BA, Yale University
MA, University of Chicago
PhD, University of Chicago

ON LEAVE 2017-2018

Margaret Litvin is a historian of modern Arabic (primarily Egyptian) literature and theatre. Her first book, Hamlet’s Arab Journey: Shakespeare’s Prince and Nasser’s Ghost (Princeton, 2011), examined the many reworkings of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the theatre and political rhetoric of postcolonial Egypt, Syria, and Iraq. Published just as the “Arab Spring” uprisings faded into disillusionment, the book shows how Arab intellectuals since the 1960s have seen themselves in Hamlet: their times “out of joint,” their political hopes frustrated by a corrupt older generation. A companion anthology of translations, Four Arab Hamlet Plays, is in press with the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center at CUNY. More recently she has focused on reconstructing the tangled legacies of Arab writers’ experiences in Russia and the Soviet Union. Her articles, reviews, and artist interviews have appeared in Journal of Arabic Literature, Critical Survey, PAJ: A Journal of Performing Arts, Theatre Research International, PMLA, several Shakespeare journals, and the online venues Marginalia Review of Books, Words Without Borders, and n+1. She is now translating Sonallah Ibrahim’s 2011 novel al-Jalid (Ice).


At Boston University, Litvin teaches Arabic literature (in Arabic and in translation) as well as seminars on literary translation, “Global Shakespeares,” Arab-Russian literary encounters, and “1001 Nights in the World Literary Imagination.” She is founding director of the Middle East & North Africa Studies Program in the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies. Born in Moscow, she holds a PhD in Social Thought from the University of Chicago and a BA in Humanities from Yale, and has spent three semesters at the Center for Arabic Study Abroad in Cairo (2001-2, 2011). Her research has been awarded an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship (Yale University), a Peter Paul Career Development Professorship (BU), an ACLS Frederick Burkhardt Fellowship (2015-6), and an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship (2016-8).

Margaret Litvin’s CV

Watch Professor Litvin’s lecture “Shall We Be or Not Be: Shakespeare’s Hamlet and the Anxieties of Arab Nationalism.”

Watch Professor Litvin’s lecture “I Am Hamlet” presented at Cairo University

Read Professor Litvin’s blog about the Cairo University Fall 2011 experience.