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Dana Sajdi

associate professor

Dana Sajdi

Telephone: (617) 552-1871

Office Location: Stokes Hall, Room S307


Curriculum Vitae*


BA, American University in Cairo

PhD, Columbia University 2002

Fields of Interest

Islamic history, Arabic and Ottoman historiography, urban history, popular history, book history, topography, and starting to get involved in Geographic Information Systems

Academic Profile

Dana Sajdi teaches various courses on Islamic history but specializes in the history, societies, and cultures of the pre-modern Eastern Mediterranean (the Levant, Egypt, and Turkey).  Her work has focused primarily on the production of texts by unusual authors, such as an 8th-century woman-poet, Layla al-Akhyaliyya, and an 18th-century barber, Ibn Budayr. Her questions had to do with the politics of the production and consumption of texts and the unusual circumstances that allowed new types of authors to emerge.

Her current project, “Visualizing Damascus” is also about textual production, but this time the subject is on the descriptions of the venerable city, Damascus. She is trying to isolate and identify an uninterrupted tradition of prose (non-pictorial) topographies between the 12th and 20th centuries.  Through this tradition, she hopes to write a history of Damascus for both academic and lay audiences and is currently acquiring the skills to undertake digital cartography for her project.

Representative Publications

  • The Barber of Damascus: Nouveau Literacy in the 18th-Century Ottoman Levant (Stanford University Press, 2013)

A précis of the book: “What the Barber Saw” by Jeri Zeder

An interview about the book with Elliot Brandow, Senior Reference Librarian, Boston College Libraries:

  • Editor of Ottoman Tulips, Ottoman Coffee: Leisure and Lifestyle in the 18th Century (IB Tauris, 2008, paperback 2014). Turkish translation forthcoming, Koç University Press.

A review of the book in the Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman

  • Co-editor with Marlé Hammond, Transforming Loss into Beauty: Essays on Arabic Culture and Literature in Memory of Magda al-Nowaihi (AUC Press, 2008)
  • “Print and its Discontents: A Case for Pre-Print Journalism and Other Sundry Print Matters,” The Translator, 15:1, 2009, 105-138. Special Issue “Nation and Translation in the Middle East”  edited by Samah Selim.  
  • “Re-visiting Layla’s al-Akhyaliyya’s Trespass,” in eds. Marle Hammond and Dana Sajdi, “Transforming Loss into Beauty”: Essays on Arabic Literature and Culture in Memory of Magda Al-Nowaihi. Cairo, AUC Press, 2008, 185-227.
  • “‘Decline’ and its Discontents and Ottoman Cultural History: By Way of Introduction,” in Ottoman Tulips, Ottoman Coffee: Leisure and Lifestyles in the Eighteenth Century, ed. Dana Sajdi. London: IB Tauris, 2008, 1-40 Revised and reprinted in Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych, ed., Early Islamic Poetry and Poetics. The Formation of the Classical Islamic World (London: Ashgate Variorum, 2009)


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