Dr May Hawas, Faculty of English




Biographical Information

May Hawas is Lecturer in World and Global Literatures Post-1700 and Valerie Eliot Fellow in English at Newnham College. She is a comparatist with particular interest in the relations -historical, critical, and literary- between Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East. May is the author of Politicising World Literature: Egypt, Between Pedagogy and the Public (Routledge 2019) and The Diaries of Waguih Ghali: An Egyptian Writer in the
Swinging Sixties, Vols. 1 and 2 (American U in Cairo Press, 2016 and 2017), in addition to various articles and essays. She is also the editor of The Routledge Companion to World Literature and World History (2018) and, with Theo D’haen, What is World Literature –of Arabic? (Journal of World Literature 2.3, 2017). She is a founding member of the editorial  board of The Journal of World Literature (Brill), a member of the executive research committee of the ICLA/AILC (International Comparative Literature Association/ Association Internationale de littérature Comparée), and a member of the international commitee of the Mnemonic Solidarity: Colonialism, War, and Genocide in Global Memory Space consortium. 

Research Interests

World literature, postcolonial literature, twentieth-century comparative literature and criticism in Europe, especially the Mediterranean, and the Middle East, and the literary history and criticism of the novel.

Areas of Graduate Supervision

- World literature and comparative literature criticism: namely, comparative work, whether of theoretical concepts or fiction, that is done on English simultaneously with (any) other language (European, African, Asian, etc.).
Specific area strengths:
- the Mediterranean and Europe
- the Middle East and North Africa
Specific topics of interest:
national identities; cosmopolitanism; citizenship; the relation between literature and politics; world literary history and canonisation

Selected Publications


Politicising World Literature: Egypt, Between Pedagogy and the Public (Routledge 2019)

The Routledge Companion to World Literature and World History (Routledge 2018)

The Diaries of Waguih Ghali: An Egyptian in the Swinging Sixties, Vol. 2 (1966-68) (AUC Press 2017)

The Diaries of Waguih Ghali: An Egyptian in the Swinging Sixties, Vol. 1 (1964-66) (AUC Press 2016)

Edited Journals

With Theo D'haen, "What is World Literature -of Arabic?", Journal of World Literature 2.3 (2017)

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

“What if the Fictions were Real? Postcolonialism from the Viewpoint of the Postcolonials." Studies in the Novel 52.4 (Winter 2020). Pp. 459-77.

“Some Observations on the Mediterranean Sublime: From C. P. Cavafy to Elena Ferrante." Wonder-Marvel-Miracle: Thaumastòn, Admiratio, Mirabilia. Ed. Emilia di Rocco. Rome: Storia e Letteratura, 2019.

“The Crises of World Literature: Suez from Building to Bandung.” The Routledge Companion to World Literature and World History. London & NY: Routledge, 2018. Pp. 219-33.

"Taha Hussein and the Case for World Literature." Comparative Literature Studies 55.1 (2018) Pp. 66-92.

"From the Hashish in Breton to the Hashish in Golo: Genre Fluidity and International Imaginaries in Egyptian Surrealism." Journal of World Literature 2.3 (2017) Pp. 320-38.

with Philip Muehlenbeck. “Mobilizing Women? State Feminisms in Communist Czechoslovakia and Socialist Egypt.” Gender, Sexuality, and the Cold War (Vanderbilt UP 2017). Pp. 178-203.

“Why Valeurs? René Etiemble and Comparative Literature in Mid-Century Alexandria.” The Canadian Review of Comparative Literature / Revue canadienne de littérature comparée 43.3 (2016). Pp. 370-79.


Mar. 2020. "Taking the Last Flight out in Times of Lockdown", Politics/Letters.

Dec. 2019. “The Arabic-Speaking Intellectual and the Last Utopia”, Arabic Lit Quarterly. Ed. Marcia Lynx Qualey. 

Apr. 2019. ."The Politics of Nostalgia: Memory Restructuring in the Eastern Mediterranean", Mnemonic Solidarity in the Global Memory Space, Global-e. 

May 2018. "How not to write on cosmopolitan Alexandria", Politics/Letters.

Dec. 2017. “Waguih Ghali’s Diaries: Political Ethics, Personal Aesthetics", Jadaliyya