Elias I. Muhanna Manning Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature

Elias Muhanna is a scholar of classical Arabic literature and Islamic intellectual history at Brown University. His research focuses primarily on encyclopedic texts in the Islamic world and Europe, the cultural production of the Mamluk Empire, and the problem of the vernacular in different literary traditions.

Elias earned his PhD in Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations from Harvard University, and his dissertation won the Bruce D. Craig Prize from the Mamluk Studies Review in 2012. In 2015-16, he will be a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies, and is currently completing a book on classical and early modern encyclopedic literature in the Islamic world, as well as an abridged translation of Shihab al-Din al-Nuwayri's 14th-century Arabic compendium, "The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition" (forthcoming, 2016). He is the creator of the Digital Islamic Humanities Project at Brown, a multi-year initiative that convenes an annual conference and hosts a variety of research activities.

In addition to his scholarship, Elias writes frequently on the evolving political cultures of the contemporary Middle East. His blog, Qifa Nabki, is a forum for intellectual exchange and debate on Levantine politics, and was called the "the leading blog on Lebanese politics" by The Economist in 2013. His essays and criticism appear regularly in The New York TimesThe New YorkerThe Nation, Foreign Policy, and many other publications.

For a list of selected publications, see here. For media inquiries, please contact me at my email address.

Brown Affiliations

Research Areas

scholarly work

"Encyclopaedias, Arabic," Encyclopaedia of Islam Three, (Leiden: Brill, 2015)

"Why was the 14th Century a Century of Arabic Encyclopaedism?" In Encyclopaedias and Encyclopaedism from Antiquity to the Renaissance. Edited by Jason König and Greg Woolf. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

"Establishing a Lebanese Senate: Bicameralism and the Third Republic." Stanford University Center for Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law Working Papers Series, no. 125. August 2012.

"The Sultan's New Clothes: Ottoman-Mamluk Gift Exchange in the 15th Century." Muqarnas 27 (2010): 189-207.

"Ilyâs al-Mawsilî." In Essays in Arabic Literary Biography, c. 1350-1830. Edited by J. Lowry & D. Stewart. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 2009.

"Folk the Kasbah," Transition, no. 94 (2003), pp. 132-49.