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Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature

Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature

Meg Arenberg is an Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature in the Department of Humanities and the African Languages and Translation Program at the Africa Institute. She earned her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Indiana University Bloomington in 2016. Prior to joining the Africa Institute, she completed postdoctoral research positions in the Department of African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures (AMESALL) at Rutgers University, New Brunswick and the African Humanities Colloquium at Princeton University. She also holds a MESc from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and held the role of Managing Director of the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania from 2018-2020.

Research

Arenberg is a scholar of 20th and 21st-century African literatures with particular research interests in intertextuality, Kiswahili poetics, translation studies, and digital media.

Her current book project, Disruptive Forms: Tanzanian Literature Beyond Nation, investigates how literary forms and social and political relations overlap and collide in the literary imaginations of authors from Tanzania. Starting from the early years after Tanganyikan and Zanzibari independence during which Swahili language and certain of its literary genres were actively reterritorialized by nationalist politics, the book traces the ways in which writers from Tanzania—across language and genre—have harnessed literary form to resist and transcend the nation and summon communities of relation that exceed it.

Arenberg is also at work on two literary translation projects from Kiswahili into English: Mohammed Khelef Ghassani’s poetry collection N’na Kwetu [I Have a Home] and Ali Hilal’s novel Mmeza Fupa [Swallower of Secrets], both winners of the Safal-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature.

Arenberg has received recognition for her work from both the American Comparative Literature Association and the American Literary Translators Association.

Publications

  • "Mohammed Khelef Ghassani’s ‘Kwetu’: poetry, place, and liberation," Journal of the African Literature Association 17, no. 1 (2023): 1-21.
  • "Swahili poetry’s digital geographies: WhatsApp and the forming of cultural space." Postcolonial Text 15, no. 3 & 4 (2020): 1-24.
  • "Tanzanian Ujamaa and the Shifting Politics of Swahili Poetic Form." Research in African Literatures 50, no. 3 (2019): 7-28.
  • "The Digital Ukumbi: New Terrains in Swahili Identity and Poetic Dialogue." PMLA 131, no. 5 (2016): 1344-1360.
  • "Converting Achebe’s Africa for the New Tanzanian: Things Fall Apart in Swahili Translation." Eastern African Literary and Cultural Studies 2, no. 3-4 (2016): 124-135.
  • "Studying African literature in the age of the global." Africa Today 63, no. 2 (2016): 117-120.
  • “Rethinking Hawaa: Gender in Abdilatif Abdalla’s Utenzi wa Maisha ya Adamu na Hawaa through the Lens of John Milton’s Paradise Lost.” Research in African Literatures 46, no. 3 (2015): 24-45.

Literary Translations

  • Abdilatif Abdalla: “Crocodile,” “I Remember You,” “Which Will It Be,” and “This Is What I Hold Fast.” In The Imaginative Vision of Abdilatif Abdalla's Voice of Agony (Forthcoming at University of Michigan Press).
  • Guzel Yakhina: “Kawaida ya Wema” In Udadisi: Rethinking in Action, March 1, 2022.
  • Mohammed Ghassani: “Too Many,” “The Butterfly Fish,” “I Am a Leaf.” In The Black Anthology: Language, 1010 Press, 2020.
  • Abdilatif Abdalla: “Crocodile.” In Words Without Borders, May 2013.

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