Language and Literature in the Arab Diaspora in North America, 1965-2015
Arabic Language and Literature | Latin American Literature
Through the support of a Student-Faculty Collaborative Research Grant, Esmeralda Garcia Vargas and I spent ten days during Summer 2019 at the Centro Libanés in Mexico City. We applied for this grant in the hopes of locating Arab Mexican texts for inclusion in the study “Language and Literature in the Arab Diaspora in North America, 1965-2015.” Due to the differences in the publishing industries and their methods of dissemination, the number of Arab Mexican texts I was able to acquire in the United States was limited. Although the archives simply listed “libros” and “publicaciones” (books and publications) as part of their holdings, we found an overwhelming amount of material to work with, including several novels, collections of poetry, journals, magazines, and even a board game. Due to the large amount of material we uncovered we did not take the time to analyze any of it and instead focused on digitization. We are still in the process of organizing and analyzing the hundreds of digital files we created while in Mexico. As a secondary goal we had also hoped to interview Martha El Khouri, but we were unable to meet with her. Esme, however, located contact information for Carlos Martinez Assad—a famous novelist in Mexico of Arab descent—and he agreed to an interview. Esme has transcribed that interview and we are submitting an edited version for publication in Mashriq & Mahjar.
By all accounts, the trip was an enormous success. The interview with Assad was something I never would have expected to secure, and the amount of written material we uncovered far exceeded my expectations. In fact, my expectations were so dramatically surpassed that I have had to rethink the trajectory of “Language and Literature in the Arab Diaspora in North America, 1965-2015.” Beyond just reorganizing and expanding the study, though, there is also enough additional material for a second article, and Esme and I are working this spring to draft an essay on Arab Mexican poetry—a topic that has never been published on before. In addition to a successful research trip, Esme learned valuable research, writing, and translation skills. Traveling and working in an international archive taught her how to delve deeply into the history and culture of a place, how to explore and search for evidence to support a hypothesis, and how to adjust that hypothesis based on findings. She learned to close read a text, present her analysis in writing, and situate that analysis within its historical context. Participation in this project enhanced her educational experience at Linfield as she continues to pursue her BS in nursing.
Norman, Rachel, "Language and Literature in the Arab Diaspora in North America, 1965-2015" (2020). Post-Grant Reports. Report. Submission 197.