Mirena Christoff Distinguished Senior Lecturer in Language Studies

Before joining the Center for Language Studies at Brown in 2002, Mirena Christoff served as Assistant Professor of Arabic at Sofia University for eight years. In this country, she has taught Arabic at UCLA, Beverly Hills Lingual Institute, the Arabic School at Middlebury College, and UC Santa Barbara. Her professional involvement in the four-year language curriculum at Brown includes teaching several Arabic courses and supervising the Arabic program. She serves as an academic advisor to freshmen, sophomores, and MES concentrators. Mirena Christoff is a member of various professional organizations, including the Middle Eastern Studies Association (MESA), the American Association of the Teachers of Arabic (AATA), and ACTFL. She has translated extensively from and into Arabic. Her research and publications reflect her pedagogical and scholarly interests in translation studies, language teaching methodology, and the history of Arab culture and literature.

Brown Affiliations

Research Areas

research statement

A recent study by Mirena Christoff compares three Arabic adaptations of the French romantic novel "Paul et Virginie" (1788) by Bernardin de Saint-Pierre. The Arabic texts that were examined represent variants of the novel composed in Egypt within a period of fifty years in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century. Drawing upon current translation studies by Bassnett, Lefevere, and Toury, among others, Christoff shows that literary translations, like original writings, reflect the specific circumstances, worldviews, and writing techniques of their authors. In particular, the comparative study of the three Arabic novels inspired by "Paul et Virginie" sheds additional light on the outlook and modernizing literary style of Muhammad `Uthman Jalal, Farah Antun, and Mustafa al-Manfaluti, three outstanding intellectual and artistic figures in Egyptian culture at the time of transition to modernity. It reveals specific responses to modernity by Arab authors who used translation to express their artistic individuality; to voice concerns current in their society and time; to explore non-traditional writing techniques and coin new linguistic forms, drawing inspiration from and-- simultaneously--encouraging and shaping readers' modern literary sensibilities.
Other research topics include modern Arabic translation and cultural history; the study of aspects of the linguistic transmission between non-cognate languages; the integration of translation in foreign language instruction, etc.