Profile picture of Michael Allan

Michael Allan

Associate Professor of Comparative Literature
Program Faculty in Cinema Studies; Program Faculty in Arabic; Program Faculty in Middle East Studies; Program Faculty in Comic Studies
Cinema Studies Program, Comics and Cartoon Studies, Comparative Literature, Middle East and North African Studies
Office: 358 PLC
Office Hours: By Appointment
Research Interests: World literature (Francophone, Arabic), Film and visual culture, Postcolonial studies, Literary theory


B.A., 2000, Brown University
Ph.D., 2008, University of California, Berkeley


Michael holds his Ph.D. from the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley, where he worked under the direction of Judith Butler and Karl Britto. Before joining the faculty at the University of Oregon, he was a member of the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Columbia University (2008-9).

His research focuses on debates in world literature, postcolonial studies, media theory, as well as film and visual culture, primarily in Africa and the Middle East. In both his research and teaching, he bridges textual analysis with social theory, and draws from methods in anthropology, religion, queer theory, and area studies. He is the author of In the Shadow of World Literature: Sites of Reading in Colonial Egypt (Princeton 2016, Co-Winner of the MLA Prize for a First Book), and guest edited a special issue of Comparative Literature (“Reading Secularism: Religion, Literature, Aesthetics”), an issue of Philological Encounters with Elisabetta Benigni, (“Lingua Franca: Toward a Philology of the Sea”), and a dossier with Bruno Reinhardt devoted to the work of Saba Mahmood (“Pensando com Saba Mahmood: Aprensentação”). He is currently at work on two books: the first, A Microhistory of World Cinema, which traces the transnational history of camera operators working for the Lumière Brothers film company, and the second, The Aesthetics of Information, which investigates a history of information systems in the Middle East (telegraph, typewriter, radio, and telephone) and their implications for the study of world literature.

Michael is the editor of Comparative Literature and serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of World Literature, Philological Encounters, Comparative Literature Studies, Critical South Asian Studies, the Journal of Digital Islamicate Research, and Syndicate Lit. He was elected a member of the executive committee for LLC Arabic (2017-2021) and a delegate of Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Comparative Literature (2019-2021) for the Modern Language Association, and served as the Publications Chair for the American Comparative Literature Association (2020-2023). He has been a EUME Fellow at the Forum for Transregional Studies in Berlin (2011-12, 2017-2018), a Townsend Fellow at the Townsend Center for the Humanities in Berkeley (2006-7), and a Presidential Intern at the American University in Cairo, where he worked with its Institute of Gender and Women’s Studies (2000-1). For two summers (2011-12), he was the site director for the CLS Arabic Program in Tangier, Morocco. 


For downloadable articles: (


In the Shadow of World Literature: Sites of Reading in Colonial Egypt(Princeton 2016)

Edited Volumes:

Pensando com Saba Mahmood: Aprensentação Special Dossier of Debates do NER, co-edited with Bruno Reinhardt, Vol. 2, No. 26, 2019.

Lingua Franca: Toward a Philology of the Sea Special Issue of Philological Encounters, co-edited with Elisabetta Benigni, (Leiden: Brill, 2017)

Reading Secularism: Religion, Literature, Aesthetics. Special Issue ofComparative Literature. Vol. 65, No. 3, Summer 2013.


"The Language(s) of Self-Representation: Toward a Postcolonial Theory of Voice," Critical Times, Fall 2022.

“Heterodox Philology: A Conversation with Gauri Viswanthan,” Philological Encounters, Spring 2021.

“Translating Whispers: Reading, Recitation, Realism,” SubStance 154, Vol. 50, No. 1, 2021.

“Dying to Read: Reflections on the Ends of Literacy,” New Literary History, Volume 51, Number 2, Spring 2020, 281-298.

“Hermenêutica” (A Hermeneutical Approach), Debates do NER, Vol. 2, No. 26, 2019, 211-216.

“Picturing Other Languages: Reflections on Photography and Philology,” College English, Volume 82, Number 1, September 2019. 94-112.

“Old Media/New Futures: Revolutionary Reverberations of Fanon’s Radio,” PMLA, “New Geographies of Reading,” 134.1, Spring 2019, 188-193.

Youssef Chahine’s Iskandariyya…Leh? (Article) Entry for the Global Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer History (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2019), 847-851.

“Re-Reading the Arab Darwin: The Lewis Affair and Naguib Mahfouz’s Palace of Desire,” Modernism/Modernity, Volume 23, Number 2, 2016. 319-340

"Scattered Letters: Translingual Poetics in Assia Djebar's L'Amour, La Fantasia," Philological Encounters, Volume 2, Issue 1. 2015.

"You, The Sacrificial Reader: Poetics and Pronouns in Mahmoud Darwish's 'al-Qurban'" Friederike Pannewick and Georges Khalil (eds.), Commitment and Beyond: Reflections on/of the Political in Arabic Literature since the 1940s, (Wiesbaden: Reichert-Verlag, 2015).

"The Hermeneutics of the Other: Intersubjectivity and the Limits of Narration in Rashid al-Daif's How the German Came to His Senses" in Ken Seigneurie (ed.), What Makes a Man?, (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015), 214-227.

"Queer Couplings: Formations of Religion and Sexuality in The Yacoubian Building," The International Journal of Middle East Studies, 44:4, 2013. (

"How Adab Became Literary: Formalism, Orientalism and the Institutions of World Literature," Journal of Arabic Literature (43), Issues 2-3, 2012, pp172-96.

“Deserted Histories: The Great Pyramid and Early Film Form,” Special Issue of Early Popular Visual Culture, 6:2, 159-170, July 2008.

“ Reading With One Eye, Speaking With One Tongue: The Problem of Address in World Literature,” Comparative Literature Studies, Volume 44, no. 1-2, Fall 2007

“The Limits of Secular Criticism: Reflections on Literary Reading in a Colonial Frame,” Townsend Center for the Humanities Newsletter, February 2007

“Fanon and the Flesh of Language: Towards a Material Linguistics of Colonial Subjection,” Equinoxes , Number 4, Winter 2004

“The Location of Lebanon: Portraits and Places in the Videography of Jayce Salloum,” Parachute , Volume 108 Beyrouth_Beirut, Fall 2002, Simultaneously published as “Le Lieu Liban: Portraits et Sites dans L’Art Vidéo de Jayce Salloum” translated by Denis Lessard