Ghenwa Hayek

Assistant Professor of Modern Arabic Literature

Pick Hall 228

(773) 702-8306

Ph.D. Brown University, 2011. Teaching at Chicago since 2015.

My research spans the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the Arab Middle East, and focuses on the entangled relationships between literary and cultural production, space and place, and identity formation. I’m interested in the ways that literary texts intervene in the cultural and social landscape. In my first book, Beirut, Imagining the City: Space and Place in Lebanese Literature, I develop an interdisciplinary engagement grounded in the fields of literary and cultural studies, critical geography and studies of nationalism and identity to trace modes of imagining the city of Beirut in Lebanese fiction from the late nineteenth century to the present. Through close readings of texts from critical moments in Lebanon’s history, I show how anxieties about belonging to the Lebanese state have been articulated through metaphors of dislocation in Beirut, and argue that changing conceptions of space and place have been used in literature both to frame and to interrogate notions of national identity and belonging not only during wartime, the period that much scholarly work on Lebanon focuses upon, but also during moments of relative calm. 

My current research explores the transnational spaces of the Lebanese diaspora, and the particular problem that emigration poses to the national imaginary and to national self- fashioning in Lebanon.

I am also a translator, and my translations have appeared in the literary magazine Banipal, and in the anthology Beirut 39: New Writing From the Arab World, as well as in mainstream publications like The New York Times and The International New York Times.



  • Beirut, Imagining the City: Space and Place in Lebanese Literature, London and New York: IB Tauris, 2014

Articles/Chapters in edited Volumes

  •  “‘Carrying Africa’, Becoming Lebanese: Diasporic Middleness in Lebanese Fiction” in Diasporas and Cultures of Mobilities, Vol 2 Diaspora, Memory and Intimacy, Eds. Sarah Barbour, Thomas Lacroix, David Howard and Judith Misrahi-Barak, Montpellier, France: Presses Universitaires de la Méditerranée (PULM), pp.99-114
  • “Experimental Female Fictions; Or, The Brief Wondrous Life of the Nahḍa Sensation Story”, Middle Eastern Literatures. Vol. 16.3 (2013), pp. 249-265.
  • “Rabī‘ Jābir’s Bayrūt trilogy: Recovering an Obscured Urban History”, Charting Arabic Literary Geographies. Spec. issue of Journal of Arabic Literature, 42.2-3 (2011), pp. 183-204.

Sample Translations