Visiting Scholars 2015/16

Deborah A. Starr

Prof. Deborah A. Starr

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Cornell University

Department of Near Eastern Studies

Bio: Deborah Starr is Professor of Modern Arabic and Hebrew Literature and Film in the Department of Near Eastern Studies, and Director of the Jewish Studies Program. She received a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Michigan. She writes and teaches about identity and intercommunal exchange in the modern Middle East, with a focus on the Jews of Egypt. She is the author of Togo Mizrahi and the Making of Egyptian Cinema (University of California Press, 2020) and Remembering Cosmopolitan Egypt: Literature, Culture, and Empire (Routledge, 2009)She is also the co-editor, with Sasson Somekh, of Mongrels or Marvels: The Levantine Writings of Jacqueline Shohet Kahanoff (Stanford University Press, 2011).  Her research and teaching interests include cosmopolitanism, postcolonial studies, minorities of the Middle East, film, and urban studies. (link)

Course Information:

38961: Egyptian Cinema

This course will trace the development of the Egyptian film industry from the 1930s, through the "Golden Age" during the Nasser era, to the rise of gritty urban films int he 1970s. We will also discuss the decline in film production, and the challenges the film industry faces today.

Public Lecture: Crimes of Mistaken Identity in Togo Mizrahi's Alexandria

Selected publications


Togo Mizrahi and the Making of Egyptian Cinema. (University of California Press, 2020). Open Access:

Mongrels or Marvels: The Levantine Writings of Jacqueline Shohet Kahanoff.
Co-edited with Sasson Somekh. (Stanford University Press, 2011).

Remembering Cosmopolitan Egypt: Literature, Culture and Empire. (Routledge, 2009).

Published Articles

“Reading, Writing, and Remembering: Ronit Matalon and the Literature of Egyptian Jewish Memory” (In Hebrew) Mikan: A Journal of Israeli and Jewish Literature and Culture. 18 (September 2018), 141-154.

“Chalom and cAbdu Get Married: Jewishness and Egyptianness in the Films of Togo Mizrahi.” The Jewish Quarterly Review. 107, no.2 (2017): 209-230. doi: 10.1353/jqr.2017.0007.

“In Bed Together: Coexistence in Togo Mizrahi’s Alexandria Films,” in Post-Ottoman Co-Existence: Sharing Space in the Shadow of Conflict, edited by Rebecca Bryant, 129-156. Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2016. Open access:

“Masquerade and the Performance of National Imaginaries: Levantine Ethics, Aesthetics, and Identities in Egyptian Cinema,” Journal of Levantine Studies 1, no.2 (2011): 31-57.

“Sensing the City: Representations of Cairo’s Harat al-Yahud,” Prooftexts, 26, no. 1-2 (2006): 138-162. doi: 10.1353/ptx.2007.0010

“Drinking, Gambling, and Making Merry: Waguih Ghali’s Search for Cosmopolitan Agency,”
Middle Eastern Literatures 9, no. 3 (2006): 271-285. doi: 10.1080/14752620600999896

Revised and updated version printed in The Edinburgh Companion to the Arab Novel in English, edited by Nouri Gana (University of Edinburgh Press, 2013).

“Recuperating Cosmopolitan Alexandria: Circulation of Narratives and Narratives of Circulation,” Cities. 22, no.3 (2005): 217-228. doi: 10.1016/j.cities.2005.03.009

“Reterritorializing the Dream: Orly Castel-Bloom’s Remapping of Israeli Identity,” in Mapping Jewish Identities, edited by Laurence J. Silberstein (NYU Press, 2000).

“Egyptian Representation of Israeli Culture: Normalizing Propaganda or Propagandizing Normalization?” in Review Essays in Israel Studies, Books on Israel 5, edited by Laura Eisenberg and Neil Caplan. (SUNY Press, 2000).

Open Access Digital Archive

“Waguih Ghali Unpublished Papers: Diaries (1964-1968) and Manuscript Fragments” [].

Selected Short Essays

“Writing about Writing about Alexandria,” Politics/Letters. 13 (September 2018).

Interview with Diana Athill, The Diaries of Waguih Ghali: An Egyptian Manic Depressive in the Swinging Sixties, edited by May Hawas. Vol. 1 (American University in Cairo Press, 2017).

Interview with Samir Basta, The Diaries of Waguih Ghali: An Egyptian Manic Depressive in the Swinging Sixties, edited by May Hawas. Vol. 2 (American University in Cairo Press, 2017).


Prof. Deborah Starr lectured at the following events:

Egyptian Jews: memory, history and the public transmission of heritage - June 16th, at the French Research Center in Jerusalem.

june 16th

Journeys of assumed Identity in early Egyptian cinema - June 24th. at the Van Leer institute.

june 24th


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