Dr. Samuli Schielke
Postdoctoral Fellow ZMO (2016)
"The Writing of Lives: Motivations and Consequences of Literary Writing in Alexandria after 2011"
The Writing of Lives
Motivations and Consequences of Literary Writing in Alexandria after 2011
Writing poetry, prose and semi-literary texts is a fairly common activity among Egyptians who have received higher education, although the readership of fi ction is very low. After 2011, such writing has become much more visible as many people have started writing or have started publishing online what they would have previously kept for themselves. Following the lives and works of writers in different milieus in Egypt’s second-largest city, this research project looks at the practice, social conditions and possible consequences of literary writing from a long-term biographical perspective. Connecting literary works, their themes and their styles with questions of sociality, personal idiosyncrasies, political and social context, livelihoods and economy, the project is also an attempt to develop a non-reductionist understanding of imagination, cultural production, material conditions, relations of production and social change on the same analytical plane. The research, which is based on the shared fieldwork of Schielke and the Alexandrian novelist Mukhtar Saad Shehata, has a strongly collaborative aspect, debating and developing these theoretical directions in dialogue with the writers involved.