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Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations (NELC)

Faculty Profiles

 

Roger Allen photo

Roger M. A. Allen

Roger Allen is Emeritus Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature in the Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations.  He was (2010) the Sascha Jane Patterson Harvie Professor of Social Thought and Comparative Ethics in the School of Arts & Sciences. Also in 2010, he held the position of President of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA). 

His fields of interest include Arabic literature and specifically Arabic narrative, the theory and practice of translation, and Arabic language-pedagogy. His works in this field include: A Period of Time (1st edition, 1974; 2nd edition 1992); The Arabic Novel: an historical and critical introduction (1st edition 1982, Arabic edition, 1986; 2nd edition 1995, 2nd Arabic edition 1998), a work that has been widely used throughout the world as an introduction to the novel genre in the Arab world; and The Arabic literary Heritage (Cambridge, 1998; reissued in paperback as Introduction to Arabic Literature, Cambridge, 2000). Among his translations are a collection of short stories by Naguib Mahfouz, God’s World (1973, in conjunction with Akef Abadir), that being the collection mentioned in the published citation of the Nobel Literature Prize Committee in 1988. He has also translated into English Mahfouz’s Autumn Quail (1985), Mirrors  (1st edition, 1977; 2nd edition 1999), Karnak Café (2007),  Khan al-Khalili (2008) and The Final Hour (2010).  He has also translated Jabra Ibrahim Jabra (The Ship, and  In Search of Walid Masoud, both translated in conjunction with Adnan Haydar), Yusuf Idris (the collection of stories, In the Eye of the Beholder, and also a volume of studies, Critical Perspectives on Yusuf Idris), `Abd al-Rahman Munif (Endings), Mayy Telmissany (Dunyazad—short-listed in England for the prize for the best translated novel of 2000), BenSalim Himmich, The Polymath (2004) and The Theocrat(2005), Ahmad al-Tawfiq,  Abu Musa’s Women Neighbors (2006), and Hanan al-Shaykh, The Locust and the Bird (2009).

In the language-pedagogy field, he has also been very involved in the improvement of methods of teaching the Arabic language in American universities and colleges.  He has written a textbook (Let’s Learn Arabic [with Adel Allouche], 1986-88). From 1986 till 2002, he has conducted many workshops on language teaching in the USA, Europe, and the Arab world, as the national proficiency trainer in Arabic for the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).




 

Dan Ben-Amos

Dan Ben-Amos is a specialist in folklore and folklife, trained in the comparativist tradition in Jerusalem and at Indiana University at Bloomington. He is the editor of a series of translations of folklore classics, primarily by European scholars. He has published many articles on folklore theory and the history of the field. His books include Sweet Words: Folktales from BeninFolklore Genres and Cultural Memory and the Construction of Identity, which he co-edited with Liliane Weissberg. In 2006, his edited volume, Folktales of the Jews: Volume 1: Tales from the Sephardic Dispersion, was awarded the top prize in the National Jewish Book Award's Sephardic Culture category. 

 

 

 

 

 




 

Paul M. Cobb 

Dr. Cobb is on leave for the 2014-2015 academic year

Paul M. Cobb, currently the Graduate Group Chair, is a social and cultural historian of the pre-modern Islamic world. His areas of interest include the history of memory, historiography, Islamic relations with the West, and travel and exploration. He is, in particular, a recognized authority on the history of the medieval Levant and of the Crusades in their Islamic context. He is the author of numerous books and articles, including  White Banners: Contention in ‘Abbasid Syria, 750-880 (SUNY Press, 2001); Usama ibn Munqidh: Warrior-Poet of the Age of Crusades  (Oneworld, 2005); and The Book of Contemplation: Islam and the Crusades, a translation of the “memoirs” and other works of Usama ibn Munqidh (Penguin Classics, 2008). He is also the co-editor (with Wout van Bekkum) of Strategies of Medieval Communal Identity: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Peeters, 2003) and (with Antoine Borrut) of Umayyad Legacies: History and Memory from Syria to Spain (E. J. Brill, 2010). His next book, The Race for Paradise: An Islamic History of the Crusades, is forthcoming from Oxford in 2013. 


He is currently the Vice-President of Middle East Medievalists and serves as a member of the Editorial Board of the Bulletin d’Etudes Orientales and as a member of the Advisory Council of the Schoenberg Insitute for Manuscript Studies.. He has received fellowships from, among others, the NEH, Fulbright, and the Guggenheim Foundation. 

    Courses Taught:

            • Introduction to the Middle East (NELC 102)
            • Getting Crusaded
            • The Mongol Experience
            • Age of Caliphs
            • Age of Sultans
            • Arabic Texts in Islamic History
            • Proseminar: Islamic Studies



Grant Frame 

Grant Frame received his Ph.D. in Assyriology from the department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, and his M.A and B.A. from the department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Toronto. His area of specialization is the history and culture (economy, politics, religion, and society) of Mesopotamia in the first millennium BC and Akkadian language and literature. His books include Babylonia 689–627 B.C.: A Political History  (Leiden, 1992); Rulers of Babylonia: From the Second Dynasty of Isin to the End of Assyrian Domination (1157–612 BC) (Toronto, 1995); and The Archive of Mušēzib-Marduk, Son of Kiribtu and Descendant of Sîn-nāṣir: A Landowner and Property Developer at Uruk in the Seventh Century BC (Dresden). He edited From the Upper Sea to the Lower Sea: Studies on the History of Assyria and Babylonia in Honour of A.K. Grayson(Leiden, 2004) and is co-editor of the forthcoming  Tablet and Torah: Mesopotamia and the Biblical World: Papers in Honor of Dr. Barry L. Eichler(Bethesda, MD). He is currently preparing a volume editing approximately 170 letters from Babylonian officials to the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal for the Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project (Helsinki) and is director and editor-in-chief of the NEH-funded Royal Inscriptions of the Neo-Assyrian Period project, for which he is preparing a volume on the official inscriptions of Sargon II (721–705 BC). 

Courses taught: 

  • Ancient Iraq: Mesopotamian Culture and Legacy (NELC 145)
  • Early Empires of the Ancient Near East: The Neo-Assyrian Period (NELC 242/542)
  • History of Ancient Iraq (NELC 243/643)
  • Introduction to the Ancient Near East (NELC 101)
  • Myths and Religions of the Ancient World (NELC 046)
  • Akkadian Historical Texts (ANEL 541)
  • Akkadian Legal Texts (ANEL 741)
  • Akkadian Letters (ANEL 542)
  • Akkadian Literary Texts (ANEL 540)



Nili Gold 

Dr. Gold is on leave for the 2014-2015 academic year

Nili Gold’s study of Hebrew and Israeli literature combines psychoanalytic, biographical and cultural-historical approaches. Her later work is informed by diasporic studies and deals with questions of immigration and multilingualism. Her first book, Lo Kabrosh: Gilgule Imagim Ve-tavniyot Be-shirat Yehuda Amichai (Not Like a Cypress: Transformations of Images and Structures in the Poetry of Yehuda Amichai [1994]), won the Award for the Best First Book in Hebrew Literature from the Ministry of Science and Culture of the State of Israel. Her second book, entitled Yehuda Amichai: The Making of Israel's National Poet (UPNE 2008), won the 2007 Lucius Littauer Foundation Publishing Award and the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE) publication grant for 2008. She has published numerous articles in English and Hebrew academic journals on essential questions in Hebrew literature as well as on a wide range of Modern and Postmodern Hebrew and Israeli authors. Her articles have been published in Criticism & Interpretation: Journal for Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and CultureHebrew Studies; Jewish Studies Quarterly; Mikan (BGU); and  Prooftexts; among others. 



Courses Taught (specific content varies—see website for details): 

  • Modern Hebrew Literature and Culture in Translation (NELC 159)
  • Introduction to Modern Hebrew Literature (HEBR 259/559)
  • Seminar in Modern Hebrew Literature (HEBR 359/659)
  • Modern Middle Eastern Literature in Translation (NELC 201)




Joseph E. Lowry 

Joseph E. Lowry is a specialist in Islamic law, Arabic literature, and classical Islamic thought. He is the author, among other works, of  Early Islamic Legal Theory: the Risala of Muhammad Ibn Idris al-Shafi'i  (E. J. Brill, 2007) and the editor (with D. Stewart and S. Toorawa) of Law and Education in Medieval Islam: Studies in Memory of George Makdisi (Gibb Memorial Trust, 2005) and (with D. Stewart) of Essays in Arabic Literary Biography II: 1350-1850 (Harrasowitz, 2009). He has edited and translated al-Shafi‘I’s Epistle on Legal Theory for the Library of Arabic Literature (NYU Press, 2013) and is a member of the editorial boards of the Library of Arabic Literature and of the journals Islamic Law and Society (Brill) and Abbasid Studies (Brill). Before completing his Ph.D. he was an attorney in private practice.



Courses Taught: 

  • Intro to the Qur'an (NELC 130)
  • Intro to Islamic Law (NELC 238)
  • Islamic Intellectual Tradition (NELC 437)
  • Approaches to Islamic Law (NELC 638)
  • Intro to Reading the Qur'an in Arabic (ARAB 333)
  • Intro to Classical Islamic Texts (ARAB 436)
  • Seminar in Islamic Thought (ARAB 731)



Heather Sharkey photo

Heather Sharkey

Heather J. Sharkey is a historian in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. She teaches classes on the Islamic world, the modern Middle East, and colonial and postcolonial North Africa, and on the history of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish relations. She holds degrees from Yale (Anthropology, BA), the University of Durham, England (Middle Eastern Studies, MPhil), and Princeton (History, PhD). She has received many fellowships, including the Marshall, Fulbright-Hays, and Carnegie. 

Sharkey’s first book, entitled,  Living with Colonialism: Nationalism and Culture in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, appeared from theUniversity of California Press in 2003.  Her second book, entitled American Evangelicals in Egypt: Missionary Encounters in an Age of Empire, appeared from Princeton University Press in 2008. She is co-editor of American Missionaries in the Middle East: Foundational Encounters (forthcoming from the University of Utah Press). Presently she is writing a book on the history of inter-communal relations among Muslims, Christians, and Jews in the modern Middle East and North Africa. Her articles have appeared in many edited volumes (among them Globalization and the Muslim World  [2004], Literature and Nation in the Middle East [2006],  Muslim-Christian Encounters in Africa [2006], and Proselytization Revisited: Rights, Free Markets, and Culture Wars [2008]) and in periodicals such as the International Journal of Middle East Studies, the Journal of African History, Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, and theJournal of Imperial and Commonwealth History. She is on the editorial advisory boards of the International Journal of African Historical StudiesChurch History and Religious CultureIslamic Africa, and Northeast African Studies

 

 




David P. Silverman 

David P. Silverman is Eckley Brinton Coxe, Jr. Professor of Egyptology and Curator of Penn Museum's Egyptian Section, and one of the leading authorities on the civilization of ancient Egypt. Dr. Silverman was the national curator, advisor, and academic content creator for the blockbuster exhibition "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs.” He was also responsible for the curatorial content in the original 1977 "Treasures of Tutankhamun" exhibit and served as Curator in Chicago at the Field Museum. His extensive publications include numerous books and articles on Egyptian language, art, and religion, and he has directed several field expeditions at sites throughout Egypt. He has received many awards and honors, including grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Penn Research Foundation, and The Michela Schiff-Giorgini Foundation. The Athenaeum Society of Philadelphia presented him with a Literary Award for his books  Searching for Ancient Egypt and Ancient Egypt. Dr. Silverman has been a visiting professor at both L'École Pratique at the Sorbonne in Paris and Harvard University. 

 

 




David M. Stern 

David Stern is the Ruth Meltzer Professor of Classical Hebrew in the Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations department, and former Director of the Jewish Studies Program. His field of specialization is classical Jewish literature and religion. He has written widely on midrash (the Biblical commentaries of the Rabbis), and is the author of several books including Parables in Midrash: Narrative and Exegesis in Rabbinic Literature (Harvard University Press); Rabbinic Fantasies: Imaginative Narratives from Classical Hebrew Literature  (Yale University Press), and Midrash and Theory: Ancient Jewish Exegesis and Contemporary Literary Studies (Northwestern University Press). His essays and reviews on modern Jewish literature and culture have appeared in The New RepublicCommentaryThe New York Times Book Review and Tikkun. He is also an editor of Prooftexts: A Journal of Jewish Literary History. He is currently working on a book entitled "Through the Pages of the Past: Four Jewish Classics and the Jewish Experience" which traces the history of the physical forms of the Talmud, the Rabbinic Bible, the Prayerbook, and the Passover Haggadah, and the ways in which those forms have shaped the meaning and significance of these classic Jewish books. 

Courses Taught: 

  • NELC 252: Themes in Jewish Tradition
  • NELC 156: Great Books of Judaism
  • HEBR 257: Studies in Rabbinic Literature
  • HEBR 258: Studies in Medieval Hebrew Literature
  • HEBR 357: Classical Midrash & Aggadah
  • HEBR 358: Siddur and Piyyut
  • NELC 356: Ancient Interpretation of the Bible



 

Stephen J. Tinney 

Stephen J. Tinney is Clark Research Associate Professor of Assyriology, Associate Curator of the Babylonian Section of the Penn Museum and director of the Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary Project. He holds a B.A. in Assyriology from Cambridge University, England, and a Ph.D. in Assyriology from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. His research interests include all aspects of Sumerian language, literature, and culture. Much of his current work is devoted to developing and publishing Sumerian texts and to analyzing and presenting the Sumerian language. This work is primarily focused on the creation of two major projects, the online Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary (ePSD), a project he began work on when he joined Penn in 1991 as a postdoctoral research assistant and which he now directs, and the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative based at UCLA. 

 

 

 




Joseph W. Wegner 

Josef Wegner is Associate Professor of Egyptian Archaeology in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. He is also Associate Curator in the Egyptian Section of the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. He received his BA in 1989 and his Ph.D. (University of Pennsylvania) in 1996 on the topic of the development of the Osiris cult at Abydos during the Middle Kingdom. He is a specialist in the archaeology of Egypt's Middle Kingdom (ca. 2050-1650 BCE). Since 1994, as part of the combined University of Pennsylvania-Yale-Institute of Fine Arts, New York University Expedition to Abydos, he has directed excavations at the mortuary complex and settlement site dedicated to pharaoh Senwosret III at South Abydos. His interests include the study of state organization, administration, and settlement archaeology during Egypt's late Middle Kingdom. His research has been supported by fellowships and grants from the American Research Center in Egypt, the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Geographic Society, American Philosophical Society. He is author of The Mortuary Temple of Senwosret III at Abydos(2007); co-author (with D. Silverman and J. Houser-Wegner), Akhenaten and Tutankhamun: Revolution and Restoration (2006); and co-editor, with (D. Silverman and W. K. Simpson) of Archaism and Innovation: Cultural Studies in Egypt's Middle Kingdom (2009). He is author of numerous articles and edited contributions including recently a chapter in W. Wendricke (ed.), Egyptian Archaeology, Blackwell Studies in Global Archaeology (2010). Among his current projects he is editor of the 2-volume Blackwell Companion to the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt (projected publication: 2012). He is currently completing a book on the mayoral residence of the town of Wah-Sut, South Abydos (for publication in 2011). 

 




Richard Zettler photo

Richard L. Zettler 

Richard L. Zettler, current Department Chair, is an archaeologist specializing in Mesopotamia, the region occupied by modern Iraq and Syria. He received his MA and PhD (1984) in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago. He worked at Nippur and Umm al-Hafriyat in southern Iraq, as well as Üç Tepe in the Hamrin or upper Diyala River basin in the late 1970s, and directed excavations at Tell es-Sweyhat, an Early Bronze Age site, whose occupation spans the 3rd millennium BCE, on the upper Euphrates in Syria, from 1989-2007. He taught at the University of California, Berkeley in 1985-86 before coming to the University of Pennsylvania in 1986-87. 

Dr. Zettler’s research focuses on 3rd and early 2nd millennia BCE. His particular interests include urbanism and the socio-economic organization of complex societies, as well as methodological complexities of integrating archaeological and documentary data. His books include interpretative studies likes The Ur III Temple of Inanna at Nippur, as well as excavation reports such as Excavations at Nippur: Kassite Buildings in Area WC-1 and Subsistence and Settlement in a Marginal Environment: Tell es-Sweyhat, 1989-1995 Preliminary Report. He is currently working on the publication of the excavations of the temple of Inanna at Nippur, which took place in the 1950s and early 60s, and his own excavations at Tell es-Sweyhat. 

In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Zettler is Associate Curator-in-Charge of Penn Museum’s Near East Section, which houses more than 100,000 artifacts from excavations across the Middle East. He co-curated Penn Museum’s Treasures from the Royal Tombs of Ur, a highly successful traveling exhibit which appeared at venues across the US from 1998-2007. He recently collaborated in the re-installation of the Museum’s collections from the Royal Cemetery of Ur, entitled Iraq’s Ancient Past: Rediscovering the Royal Cemetery of Ur. The exhibit opened to the public in October, 2009. 

Courses Taught: 

  • Origins and Cultures of Cities (NELC 103)
  • Ancient Civilizations of the World (NELC 182)
  • Archaeology and History of Ancient Israel (NELC 153)
  • Iraq: Ancient Cities and Empires (NELC 241/641)