Manning Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature

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.

Muhanna earned his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations from Harvard University in 2012. He was a Fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies in 2015-16, and is currently a Faculty Fellow of the Watson Institute for International & Public Affairs at Brown. In 2017-18, he will be a Whiting Foundation Public Engagement Fellow.

Muhanna has published two books: a selected translation of Shihab al-Din al-Nuwayri's 14th-century Arabic compendium, The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition (Penguin, 2016), and an edited volume, The Digital Humanities and Islamic & Middle East Studies (De Gruyter, 2016). Muhanna's monograph The World in a Book: al-Nuwayri and the Islamic Encyclopedic Tradition is forthcoming from Princeton University Press in 2017. 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, Muhanna writes frequently for the mainstream press. He is a contributing writer for The New Yorker's online edition, and his essays and criticism have appeared in The New York TimesThe Nation, and other periodicals.

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

Brown Affiliations

Research Areas

On the Web