Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Ashley Dawson

Committee Members

Robert Reid-Pharr

Ammiel Alcalay

Subject Categories

African American Studies | Literature in English, North America | Other English Language and Literature


Egypt, Cosmopolitanism, Body Studies, Lawrence Durrell, André Aciman, David Graham Du Bois


Mid-twentieth century Egypt is a pivotal site for our understanding of empire (both European and American) and of the construction of global identities. In order to critically examine the sustained nostalgia for a purportedly cosmopolitan Egyptian era, this dissertation stages a rereading of two canonical texts—Lawrence Durrell’s The Alexandria Quartet (1957-60) and André Aciman’s Out of Egypt (1994)—in the context of their respective creations at the beginnings of the Cold War and the “war on terror.” Opposing predominant narratives that render Egyptian post-coloniality in terms of loss, this project will then point to alternative texts—primarily David Graham Du Bois’ … And Bid Him Sing (1975) and Edward Said’s Out of Place (1999)—that recognize Egypt as a site of “critical cosmopolitanisms” and “post-colonial cosmopolitanisms” as well as anti-colonial, pan-African, and pan-Arab solidarity formation. Throughout, this study analyses the embodied experiences at the core of these texts, recognizing textual representations of extraordinary human bodies as sites where geopolitical, social, and cultural demands of the present moment are mapped out.

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