Elias Muhanna

Associate Professor of Comparative Literature

Research Interests

Encyclopedism, book culture, intellectual history, vernaculars, Islamic world, Classical Arabic


Elias Muhanna is a scholar of classical Arabic literature and Islamic intellectual history at Brown University. His research focuses on encyclopedic texts in the Islamic world and Europe, the cultural production of the Mamluk Empire, and the problem of the vernacular in different literary traditions. Muhanna has published three books: a monograph, The World in a Book: al-Nuwayri and the Islamic Encyclopedic Tradition (Princeton University Press, 2018); a selected translation of Shihab al-Din al-Nuwayri's 14th-century Arabic compendium, The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition (Penguin, 2016); and an edited volume, The Digital Humanities and Islamic & Middle East Studies (De Gruyter, 2016)

In addition to his scholarship, Muhanna writes frequently for the mainstream press. His essays and criticism have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Nation, and other periodicals. For a list of selected publications, see here.