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In the Shadow of World LiteratureSites of Reading in Colonial Egypt$
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Michael Allan

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780691167824

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691167824.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
In the Shadow of World Literature

Michael Allan

Princeton University Press

This book raises a number of questions concerning the assumed universalism of world literature by analyzing the interwoven strands of modernization, literature, and secularism. It examines the putative opposition between a practice of reading based on memorization, embodiment, and recitation in Qur'anic schools and another practice based on reflection, critique, and judgment, increasingly integral to what gets defined as literacy in the modern Egyptian state. By taking colonial Egypt as a paradigmatic site from which to consider literary publics, textual cultures, and the history of reading, the book reveals two convergent and enmeshed narratives: on the one hand, the formation of a modern literary paradigm linked to education reform, the rise of a reading public and modern Arabic literature, and on the other hand, the story of what gets blotted out, religious institutions and practices that come to be understood as traditional.

Keywords:   reading, world literature, modernization, secularism, Qur'anic schools, critique, colonial Egypt, education, Arabic literature, literary publics

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