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Dana Sajdi

associate professor

Dana Sajdi

Telephone: (617) 552-1871

Office Location: Stokes Hall, Room S307


Curriculum Vitae*


PhD, Columbia University, 2002

Fields of Interest

Pre-modern Middle Eastern history (mainly but not exclusively Ottoman history); popular and learned literary cultures; historiography; book history and urban history

Academic Profile

Professor Sajdi's main interest is literary culture and the politics of textual production, especially of memorial/historical genres, such as chronicles, biographies, and city histories. She wrote a dissertation on a social and literary phenomenon of authorship of chronicles by commoners and marginals in the eighteenth-century Levant (roughly, the Arabic-speaking part of the eastern Mediterranean).

Her book on the “life and work” of one of these commoner-historians, titled The Barber of Damascus: Nouveau Literacy in the 18th-Century Ottoman Levant is forthcoming from Stanford University Press.  She has edited a volume on Ottoman culture, Ottoman Tulips, Ottoman Coffee: Leisure and Lifestyle in the Eighteenth Century (London: IB Tauris, 2008); and co-edited with Marle Hammond another volume focusing on Arabic elegiac poetry, "Transforming Loss into Beauty": Essays in Arabic Literature and Culture in Memory of Magda Al-Nowaihi (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2008).

She is currently researching a project on Damascus and Constantinople/Istanbul. The project explores how these cities, having shared a Byzantine pre-Islamic past were inter-textually narrated and given meaning by their Muslim inhabitants.

Representative Publications

  • The Barber of Damascus: Nouveau Literacy in the Eighteenth-Century Ottoman Levant. Stanford University Press. Forthcoming.
  • “In Other Worlds? Mapping Out the Spatial Imaginaries of 18th-Century Chroniclers from the Ottoman Levant”, Journal of Ottoman Studies, in a special issue edited by Virginia Aksan on “Ottoman Identities”.  Under Review.
  • “New Voices in History: Nouveau Literacy in the 18th-Century Levant” in Syrinx von Hees, ed. Inhitat (Decline): Its Influence and Persistence in the Writing of Arab Cultural History, forthcoming.
  • “The Dead and the City: The Limits of Hospitality in the Early Modern Levant” in Hosting the Stranger: Between Religions, edited by James Taylor and Richard Kearney (New York: Continuum, 2011), 123-131.
  • “Muhammad b. Isa Ibn Kannan (d. 1741),” entry in Historians of the Ottoman Empire, [On the life and work of the 18th –century Damascene historian and geographer, Ibn Kannan]
  • 2007:  “Shihabaddin Ahmad Ibn Budayr al-Hallaq (fl. 1762),” entry in Historians of the Ottoman Empire,]
  • “Print and its Discontents: A Case for Pre-Print Journalism and Other Sundry Print Matters,” in The Translator 15:1 (2009)
  • "Decline, 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)
  • "A Room of His Own: the 'History' of the Barber of Damascus (fl. 1762)," in The MIT Electronic Journal of Middle East Studies 4, 19-35 (2004) — awarded the Syrian Studies Association Prize for Best Published Article in 2004
  • "Trespassing the Male Domain: The qasidah of Layla al-Akhyaliyyah," in Journal of Arabic Literature 31.2, 121-146 (2000)
  • 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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