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, literary 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 Pre-History 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 currently serves as the Publications Chair for the American Comparative Literature Association. 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.