Besides the three mainstream languages, Arabic, Persian, and Turkish, other languages such as Kurdish and Amazigh (Berber) have contributed to the rich literary tapestry of the region. Vernacular poetry and folktales, standardized Arabic, Persian, and Turkish, as well as literary works by Middle Easterners in different European languages offer a complex regional literary field. While comparative work among the classical traditions of these literatures is undertaken without comment, scholarship on their modern traditions is suspended between the exigencies of imperialism, nationalism, and academic parochialism. This issue of Alif is devoted to the exploration of those persistent ties and affinities, as well as to the attempt to recover and discover new or enduring linkages between literatures, languages, and cultures in a world where they are largely forgotten or willfully igred.
Amy Motlagh is an associate professor and currently the director of graduate studies in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at the American University in Cairo.