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W&L Arabic Professor Publishes Paper in International Peer-Reviewed University Journal Anthony Edwards’ article focuses on the 19th-century Orientalist Gregory M. Wortabet.

Anthony-Edwards-scaled-600x400 W&L Arabic Professor Publishes Paper in International Peer-Reviewed University JournalAnthony Edwards, associate professor of Arabic

Anthony Edwards, associate professor of Arabic at Washington and Lee University, has published a paper in the international peer-reviewed university journal Mashriq & Mahjar.

Edwards’ article, titled “Orientalist Infotainment and the U.S. Lecture Tour of Gregory M. Wortabet (1828-93),” was featured in the January edition of the journal.

“Mashriq & Mahjar is a leading journal in the field of Middle East and North African migration studies,” said Edwards. “I’m honored that the journal published my research on Wortabet’s life and his contribution to Orientalist discourses in 19th-century America.”

Supported by a Lenfest Summer Research Grant, Edwards studied the life of the forgotten Syrian intellectual of the Arab Nahḍa, and focused on his travels across the United States on a solo lecture tour in the mid-19th century.

Edwards presented an early version of his paper at the 2022 Deutscher Orientalistentag in Berlin, concluding that Wortabet’s lecture tour is the story of his liberation from his missionary teachers and mentors.

“Wortabet was a troublemaker, according to American Protestant missionaries in Lebanon, and I naturally wondered what made him in their words, ‘unprincipled,’ and prompted them to ostracize him from the Protestant community in Beirut,” said Edwards. “It turned out that Wortabet was an adventurous cultural entrepreneur who left his homeland at the age of 22 and launched a lecture tour in the U.S. Based on newspaper clippings and his speeches, I examined how he spread stereotypes about the Middle East in an entertaining and enlightening manner to attract listeners and make money.”

Edwards, who has taught at W&L since 2015, was the 2019 recipient of the H. Hiter Harris III Rising Star Award as a top junior faculty member in Virginia. He holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Arabic from Georgetown University and a Ph.D. in Middle Eastern languages and cultures from the University of Texas at Austin.

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