Supervisor Prof. J. Hanssen
I came to my topic in a roundabout way, through my years of activism in Palestine. In fact, I integrated between the two during my long fieldwork, and my scholarship will probably always be politically engaged.
I am eternally grateful to NMC for its multidsciplinarity: although I was trained as a historian (as an undergraduate and masters student), I seized upon the opportunity to introduce anthropological theory and method into my work. Equally crucial, in Prof. Hanssen I found a supervisor who was supportive of my engaged scholarship, and enthusiastically embraced my methodological explorations and cross-disciplinarity. I hope to pay it forward and be as good as mentor for others.
This year, while I explore the academic job market, I am also making the first steps transforming my dissertation into a book manuscript and writing a few articles.
The Ramesseum Dramatic Papyrus: A New Edition, Translation, and Interpretation
Supervisor R. Leprohon
I started my university career at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms University of Bonn, Germany, where I did a Magister Artium in Egyptology (main subject), Islamic Studies (first minor) and Pre- and Early History (second minor). During my time at Bonn, I also worked as a student assistant in the Egyptology department and later as a Research Assistant in the Egyptian Museum of the University of Bonn. The student assistantship also included the teaching of tutorials for the Introductory Middle Egyptian class.
I then started my PhD program in Egyptology at the NMC department of the University of Toronto. During my time as PhD student, I taught the Introductory Middle Egyptian class for several years, was Research Assistant in Prof. Katja Goebs’ project “Divine light. Luminous aspects of divinity in Egypt and Mesopotamia”, and participated in Prof. Mary-Ann Pouls Wegner’s excavation at Abydos (University of Toronto North Abydos Votive Zone Project). Additionally, I was president of the graduate student organization (NMCGSA) for several years as well as a council member of the SSEA (Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities) Toronto Chapter. During my time as PhD student I also completed the Advanced University Teaching Preparation Certificate.
After completing my PhD at Toronto, I was a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at the NMC department of the University of Toronto for two years and worked on my project “Basilophoric personal names in Egypt and Mesopotamia – a socio-cultural analysis and comparison”. At the same time I taught the Introductory Middle Egyptian class. I stayed for a third year in Toronto and taught the Introductory Middle Egyptian course as well as Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations I: the Land of the Pharaohs at the University of Toronto, as well as History of Ancient Egypt at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. During those three years I was also the president of the SSEA Toronto Chapter as well as trustee for the SSEA national.
Since 1.5 years I am now a postdoctoral research associate in Egyptology and Bibliography at the NELC department of Yale University. I have been teaching Introduction to Classical Hieroglyphic I and II as well as Visible Language: The origins of writing in Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt. Additionally, I organized an interdisciplinary and international conference on Ritual Landscape and Performance, which was held at Yale in September 2016.
I will most likely stay at Yale for the next 1.5 years, and teach different classes, work on the conference proceedings as well as on other publications.
Fadi F. Ragheb
I completed my undergraduate studies in (modern) History and Political Science at McGill University and pursued my graduate studies in Islamic History and Arabic Studies here at the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto. My specialization is in medieval Islamic history, in particular, in the history of the central Islamic lands during the Age of the Crusades (6th-7th/12th-13th C). My other research interests include the memory of the Crusades in Islamic history and the modern Middle East, Islamic pilgrimage, tafsīr studies, and modern Arabic literature.
I teach undergraduate courses in modern Standard Arabic, such as NML110-Introductory Standard Arabic and NML310- Intermediate Arabic II; courses in Islamic history, such as NMC277H-The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives; and courses in medieval Arabic, such as NMC471-Readings in Arabic From the Age of the Crusades.
In the past five years, teaching constituted an enriching and exciting part of my graduate training. I am very familiar with the Arabic program at the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto. Before joining the Faculty, I had five years of experience teaching different levels of Arabic at the Department. Additionally, my teaching experience also extended to the field of Islamic history. During my graduate studies, I twice served as the course instructor for NMC277H1S-The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives, a new course that I developed and introduced to the Department.
My approach to teaching at NMC, be it Arabic or Islamic history, is to bring the topic to life by connecting it to both historical and modern events. For example, when teaching courses in history, I frequently connect the medieval past in the Islamic world with events occurring in the Middle East today. Using events from the medieval period to shed light on and clarify contemporary events in the Middle East is an approach that not only captures students’ attention and interest but also facilitates the task of learning about events that happened many centuries ago.
Similarly, teaching Arabic, I believe, is also more effective when the instructor connects the Arabic language with its historical, cultural, and contemporaneous context. For example, I consistently introduce and incorporate aspects of the present and the past from the Arab world to stimulate my students and enrich the class environment. For instance, I analyze Arabic names that reflect new vocabulary or grammatical concepts; compare words in other languages that originated from or were historically transmitted by the Arabic language (e.g., qahwa for coffee, or sukkar for sugar); identify the meaning, grammatical construction, and historical origin of terms frequently employed in contemporary news, such as “Bahrain,” “Emirates,” “sheikh,” or “Caliph”; and digress into a discussion of a modern or historical Arabic figure or event that is connected to a word, a concept, or a cultural aspect that we may encounter in our textbook.
By thus emphasizing aspects of the history, culture, and civilization of the modern Middle East and the Islamic world, I help communicate to students of the Arabic language not only the beauty and creativity of Arabic, but also its importance as a language and connecting medium in world history and religion. This teaching method, in my experience, resonates with my students, as I find that integrating these stimulating angles to the study of Arabic helps excite and motivate students to learn the language, and eases the sometimes more mundane and dry aspects that are part and parcel of learning a new language.
This past summer, I presented a paper at the Third Conference of the School of Mamlūk Studies in Chicago on “MamlūkTimurid Embassy Exchanges and the Gifting of a Mātūrīdī Tafsīr: a Historical and Biobibliographical Inquiry.” This month, I will be presenting a paper at the Middle East Studies Association in Boston. The title of my paper is “The City as Liminal Space: Holy Sites and Islamic Pilgrimage to Jerusalem During the Mamlūk Period (648-922/1250-1517).” It is based on a chapter I wrote for a forthcoming volume on the topic of “Liminal Spaces from Sacred to Urban: The Friday Mosque and the City.”