Humanities Lecturer to Receive Prestigious Prize for Arabic Literary Translation

Kay Heikkinen

Humanities Lecturer Kay Heikkinen thrives on the challenges of translating Arabic novels into English. “It’s like playing music: you have a score and you bring it to life,” said Heikkinen, the Ibn Rushd Lecturer of Arabic in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (NELC) at UChicago. “Many people do not realize that the translation of a literary work requires an artistic sense and imagination. It’s not mechanical.”

In recognition of her translation of the Arabic novel Velvet (2019) by Huzama Habayeb into English, Heikkinen will receive the 2020 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation from the Banipal Trust for Arab Literature and the Society of Authors on Feb. 11. “Without translations, we don’t talk to each other,” Heikkinen said. “Even the best literature in another language is invisible to us unless it’s translated.”

Pope.L's New Exhibition at Neubauer Collegium Is Shaped by COVID-19

Pope.L, Praises, 2020, Courtesy of the artist

The Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society has opened My Kingdom for a Title, a new solo exhibition featuring work by Pope.L, an acclaimed artist and scholar in the University of Chicago’s Department of Visual Arts.

On display through May 16, this is the first exhibition to be organized at the Neubauer Collegium gallery since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The global health crisis has unavoidably cast a shadow over the show’s conception and development; it contains allusions to the COVID crisis with a degree of directness that is unusual in Pope.L’s work, which is often elusive and ambiguous.

Humanities Scholar Hoda El Shakry Receives the Prestigious MLA Scaglione Prize

Hoda El Shakry

Many non-Muslims know very little about the Qurʾan. Pervasive Islamophobia—particularly in the post 9/11 era—has even led some to mistakenly view the Qurʾan as a trigger for acts of terrorism. Hoda El Shakry’s book The Literary Qurʾan: Narrative Ethics in the Maghreb (Fordham University Press, 2019) seeks to upend that perspective by demonstrating how the Qurʾan simultaneously models and teaches critical reading practices.

To recognize her efforts to change this paradigm, El Shakry received the Modern Language Association’s Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Comparative Literary Studies on Jan. 9 for The Literary Qurʾan. “El Shakry shows that the Qurʾan has been an endlessly suggestive model for interpretation for writers across the Maghreb’s linguistic divides,” wrote members of the MLA Selection Committee about her book.

Norman Golb, Renowned Scholar of Medieval Jewish History, 1928-2020

A prolific author who was fluent in Hebrew and Arabic, Prof. Emeritus Norman Golb advanced ideas that intensified a continuing debate over the origins of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Prof. Emeritus Norman Golb, a multilingual scholar renowned for his pioneering research about medieval Jewish history and the Dead Sea Scrolls, died on Dec. 29. He was 92 years old.

Remembered by his students as an intellectually generous, kind and patient teacher, the University of Chicago professor of more than 50 years was known for his encyclopedic knowledge—particularly in the study of Qumran, the West Bank archaeological site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. A prolific author, Golb was fluent in Hebrew and Arabic and used his expertise to examine primary sources.

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