Arabic E-Literature to take center stage at world’s first dedicated conference

Rochester Institute of Technology Dubai (RIT Dubai) is set to host the world’s first conference focusing on Arabic Electronic Literature (e-lit) in a global context in 2018, it was announced this week.

E-lit, which has taken the English-speaking world by storm, refers to works with important literary aspects that take advantage of the digital age – such as presenting poetry using Flash, computer art installations based around the written word, storytelling using conversational characters (known as chatterbots) or interactive fiction and novels that take the form of emails, SMS messages or blogs. Although e-lit is well-known and well researched within English academic circles, the Arab world it is under-represented, researchers from RIT believe.

This conference comes as one objective of Arabic Electronic Literature (AEL) Network initiated by Sandy Baldwin, professor of literature at RIT, New York and Vice President of the Electronic Literature Organization, and Reham Hosny, writer, Assistant Lecturer at Minia University, Egypt and Research Scholar at RIT New York. Academics and experts from RIT New York; RIT Dubai, regional universities; Yousef Al-Assaf (President of RIT-Dubai), Khalid Khawaja (Vice president of RIT-Dubai), Sandy Baldwin (Vice president of ELO), Patrick Lichty (Zayed University, Dubai), Reham Hosny (AEL coordinator), Ahmed Fadl Shablul (Egypt), Mohamed Hussein Habib (Iraq), Eman Yunis (Palestine), John Dayton (RIT-Dubai), Sayed Negm (Egypt), Jonathan Penny (RIT-Dubai), Nasih Osmanovic (RIT-Dubai), Ian Peterkin (RIT-Dubai) Yahya Haidar (RIT-Dubai) met this week at RIT Dubai during a three-day workshop to discuss, share and collaborate on the future of Arabic E-lit, with a view to working towards the world’s first conference on the subject in 2018 at RIT Dubai."

Reham Hosny commented: “The Arabic E-Lit project run by RIT has a number of different objectives. Our website, http://www.arabicelit.wordpress.com, aims to heighten awareness of Arabic e-lit and highlight the work of Arabic e-lit scholars, authors, programmers and artists by ensuring that their output is made available on a worldwide stage, including the Electronic Literature Knowledge Base (ELMCIP), an open-source research resource. We’re extremely excited to be organising the first conference of its kind at RIT Dubai next year and we’re also looking into running courses and programs specifically focusing on Arabic e-lit. It’s a must as we are in a digital age and the Arab world needs to make sure that Arabic e-literature is represented on the worldwide stage.”

Dr. Yousef Al-Assaf, President of RIT Dubai added: “We’re thrilled to host the Arabic E-Literature project. Together we are committed to collaborating to find ways to make Arabic E-lit easily accessible. Dubai is one of the major cities of the Arab world and we are looking forward to the impact that the conference and this project will have on our culture.”

Reham Hosny is looking to collaborate with programmers, artists and authors on the Arabic E-Lit project. Interested parties should contact rihamh53@gmail.com