Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, Associate Professor of History


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

Muhanna's recent publications include The World in a Book: al-Nuwayri and the Islamic Encyclopedic Tradition (Princeton University Press, 2018), winner of the Morris D. Forkosch Prize from the Journal of the History of Ideas. He translated Hanna Diyab's 18th-century memoir, The Book of Travels for the Library of Arabic Literature (NYU Press, 2021) and his selected translation of Shihab al-Din al-Nuwayri's 14th-century Arabic compendium, The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition (Penguin, 2016) was chosen as a "Best Book of 2016" by NPR and The Guardian. He is also the editor of a volume of collected essays, The Digital Humanities and Islamic & Middle East Studies (De Gruyter, 2016). 

Muhanna’s essays and criticism appear regularly in the mainstream press. He writes frequently for The New York Times, The New Yorker,  The Nation, and other periodicals. Between 2008-2013, he maintained a widely-read blog about Levantine politics, Qifa Nabki.

For a list of selected publications, see here.

Office address: Prospect House, room 206. 

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