Literature, History, and Historiography

Guest Editor: Ziad Elmarsafy

Abstract deadline: October 1, 2019
Article submission deadline: May 1, 2020

This issue of Alif will explore the relationship between literature and history. What do history and literature have to say to each other? What can literature say that history cannot, and vice versa? Do they work with or against each other? How does the literary dimension of history affect its status, and how does the historicity of literature, in turn, shape its being? What would it mean to speak of a “literariness of history” today? The terms “literature” and “history” in our title are intended to be construed in the broadest possible sense and to cover the widest possible range of genres and modalities of literary and historical writing. The recent proliferation of epithets and sub-disciplines in the study of both literature and history (including, but not limited to, animal, environmental, global, gendered, postcolonial, posthuman, sexual) has fundamentally changed both fields while raising further questions about the possibility of scholarly debates that transverse them. We are also interested in the relationship between these forms of writing and the philosophy of history. Are the philosophies of history still possible? We invite papers that reflect on the institutional and cultural place of literature and history in the contemporary period within a global perspective. Given our journal’s tri-lingual and interdisciplinary scope, we encourage contributions from fields that have been overlooked in past assessments of the relationship between history and literature, or instances where repressed histories and literature are liberated. 

Paper topics might include, but are not restricted to, the following:

  • Alternative Histories/ Literature
  • History, Memory, and Literature, Lieux de mémoire
  • Literature as a source of History 
  • History as represented in Literature
  • Key tropes in historical discourse
  • Witnessing
  • Connected Histories and Literature
  • Theories of History and Literature
  • Points of Inflection: Reformation, Revolution, Apocalypse
  • The End(s) of History/Literature
  • The Anthropocene
  • Posthuman History/Literature

Key Dates:

October 1, 2019   Deadline for submission of abstracts (300 words)
May 1, 2020  Deadline for submission of full papers
Spring 2021  Publication date 

Alif is a refereed, an annual, multi-lingual, and multi-disciplinary journal published by the Department of English and Comparative Literature at the American University in Cairo. Each issue revolves around a theme or a problematic, bringing together the views and approaches of scholars from all over the world.

Alif has been selected by MLA as a distinguished journal and has been made available electronically through JSTOR academic service ( 

Submission instructions: An initial 300-word abstract should be submitted by 1 October 2019, accompanied by the author’s email address, telephone number, and postal address. Articles based on accepted abstracts should be between 5000 and 10000 words and may be submitted in Arabic, English, or French by electronic mail to Ziad Elmarsafy ( AND Alif Journal (, together with an abstract of 100 words and a 50-word biographical note on the contributor. The authors should consult the MLA Handbook for style in preparing their manuscript. 

Only original articles that do not duplicate previously published work, including the authors, and are not under review by another journal or collection will be considered.

Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics, Dept. of English and Comparative Literature
American University in Cairo, 113 Kasr Al Aini Street, PO Box 2511,
Cairo 11511, Egypt
Tel.: + 20.2.2797.5107