Deborah A. Starr



Deborah Starr is Professor of Modern Arabic and Hebrew Literature and Film in the Department of Near Eastern Studies. She received a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Michigan. She writes and teaches about identity and intercommunal exchange in the modern Middle East, with a focus on the Jews of Egypt. She is the author of Togo Mizrahi and the Making of Egyptian Cinema (University of California Press, 2020) and Remembering Cosmopolitan Egypt: Literature, Culture, and Empire (Routledge, 2009). She is also the co-editor, with Sasson Somekh, of Mongrels or Marvels: The Levantine Writings of Jacqueline Shohet Kahanoff (Stanford University Press, 2011).  Her research and teaching interests include cosmopolitanism, postcolonial studies, minorities of the Middle East, cinema and media studies, and urban studies.

Courses Taught

  • Wondrous Literatures of the Near East
  • Minorities of the Middle East
  • Sephardic and Mizrahi Identities
  • Palestinians in Israel
  • Middle Eastern Cinema
  • Modern Middle Eastern Literature in Translation
  • Cosmopolitanism, Tolerance, and Coexistence

Research Focus

  • Modern Arabic and Hebrew literature
  • Middle Eastern Cinema
  • Contemporary Egyptian Culture
  • Mizrahi Literature and Culture
  • Minority Communities of the Middle East
  • Cosmopolitanism
  • Cinema and Media Studies
  • Urban Studies



Togo Mizrahi and the Making of Egyptian Cinema. (University of California Press, 2020). Open Access:

Mongrels or Marvels: The Levantine Writings of Jacqueline Shohet Kahanoff.
Co-edited with Sasson Somekh. (Stanford University Press, 2011).

Remembering Cosmopolitan Egypt: Literature, Culture and Empire. (Routledge, 2009).

Published Articles

“Reading, Writing, and Remembering: Ronit Matalon and the Literature of Egyptian Jewish Memory” (In Hebrew) Mikan: A Journal of Israeli and Jewish Literature and Culture. 18 (September 2018), 141-154.

“Chalom and cAbdu Get Married: Jewishness and Egyptianness in the Films of Togo Mizrahi.” The Jewish Quarterly Review. 107, no.2 (2017): 209-230. doi: 10.1353/jqr.2017.0007.

“In Bed Together: Coexistence in Togo Mizrahi’s Alexandria Films,” in Post-Ottoman Co-Existence: Sharing Space in the Shadow of Conflict, edited by Rebecca Bryant, 129-156. Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2016. Open access:

“Masquerade and the Performance of National Imaginaries: Levantine Ethics, Aesthetics, and Identities in Egyptian Cinema,” Journal of Levantine Studies 1, no.2 (2011): 31-57.

“Sensing the City: Representations of Cairo’s Harat al-Yahud,” Prooftexts, 26, no. 1-2 (2006): 138-162. doi: 10.1353/ptx.2007.0010

“Drinking, Gambling, and Making Merry: Waguih Ghali’s Search for Cosmopolitan Agency,”
Middle Eastern Literatures 9, no. 3 (2006): 271-285. doi: 10.1080/14752620600999896

Revised and updated version printed in The Edinburgh Companion to the Arab Novel in English, edited by Nouri Gana (University of Edinburgh Press, 2013).

“Recuperating Cosmopolitan Alexandria: Circulation of Narratives and Narratives of Circulation,” Cities. 22, no.3 (2005): 217-228. doi: 10.1016/j.cities.2005.03.009

“Reterritorializing the Dream: Orly Castel-Bloom’s Remapping of Israeli Identity,” in Mapping Jewish Identities, edited by Laurence J. Silberstein (NYU Press, 2000).

“Egyptian Representation of Israeli Culture: Normalizing Propaganda or Propagandizing Normalization?” in Review Essays in Israel Studies, Books on Israel 5, edited by Laura Eisenberg and Neil Caplan. (SUNY Press, 2000).

Open Access Digital Archive

“Waguih Ghali Unpublished Papers: Diaries (1964-1968) and Manuscript Fragments” [].

Selected Short Essays

“Writing about Writing about Alexandria,” Politics/Letters. 13 (September 2018).

Interview with Diana Athill, The Diaries of Waguih Ghali: An Egyptian Manic Depressive in the Swinging Sixties, edited by May Hawas. Vol. 1 (American University in Cairo Press, 2017).

Interview with Samir Basta, The Diaries of Waguih Ghali: An Egyptian Manic Depressive in the Swinging Sixties, edited by May Hawas. Vol. 2 (American University in Cairo Press, 2017).

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NES Courses - Spring 2024

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