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College of Liberal Arts
University of Mississippi

The Art of Sorrow Is Topic of University’s 62nd Longest Lecture

Celebrated writer to discuss love poetry

Miral al-Tahawy

Miral al-Tahawy will present “The Art of Sorrow: On Collecting Bedouin Women’s Love Poetry” for the 62nd  Christopher Longest Lecture. Submitted photo


Award-winning Egyptian creative writer Miral al-Tahawy will present “The Art of Sorrow: On Collecting Bedouin Women’s Love Poetry” for the University of Mississippi Department of Modern Languages 62nd annual Christopher Longest Lecture. The event is scheduled for Monday, November 13 at 6 o’clock pm in Bondurant Hall Auditorium on the Oxford campus.

“The Christopher Longest Lecture has attracted top scholars in modern languages, literatures, and linguistics to the University of Mississippi for over 60 years,” said Daniel O’Sullivan, chair of modern languages and professor of French.

“It is our department’s gala event, and we are so excited to welcome Miral al-Tahawy to our university and wider community. She is an award-winning writer and advocate of women’s rights in the Arab world. We look forward to her lecture and the ensuing discussions.”

Al-Tahawy’s novels and short stories are internationally recognized alongside her prodigious record of academic research and service. She is an affiliate member of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ, where she is also an active associate professor of modern Arabic literature and head of classics and Middle Eastern Studies at the School of International Letters and Cultures.

Her scholarly and creative work consistently addresses complex social and political issues and is informed by a sensibility that defies easy categorization. Her work strives to make hidden tensions newly visible, whether addressing female identity and sexuality as expressed in Arab women’s writing and the Desert Novel, or decoding identity through a lens of tradition and taboo, or highlighting the challenges of lived experience for diaspora.

“The Christopher Longest Series was designed by Ann Waller Reins Longest to honor her husband and to enrich the university to which he had contributed so much for so many years,” said John C. Longest on the occasion of the silver anniversary of the Christopher Longest Series in 1986.

“It also serves as a memorial to her, a gallant lady who had the vision to establish this meaningful tribute. The committee to select speakers has provided an outstanding authority each year. There are too many who have worked to make this program the distinguished program that it is to name them all, but special thanks are due to William Strickland, who served as chairman from its inception and guided it to its present status among scholars and to Chancellor Emeritus Porter Fortune for his unfailing support.

“We, as representatives of the family of Christopher Longest, are grateful and appreciative of the continued excellence of the lectures.”

Christopher Longest was born February 23, 1874 in Pontotoc County, Mississippi, and received an A.B. degree from the University of Mississippi in 1900. His first teaching position was as instructor of English at the Johns Hopkins University, where he completed graduate work in 1908. The University of Chicago awarded him a doctorate in 1915 and in 1950, Mississippi College honored him with the degree of Doctor of Law.

Longest’s career in teaching and administration featured service to the University of Mississippi, first as assistant professor of Latin from 1908 to 1910, then as associate professor of Latin from 1910 to 1920, professor of Spanish from 1920 to 1947, and as professor of Spanish and chair of modern languages from 1947 to 1951.

In addition, he was acting chancellor in August 1930, registrar from 1929 to 1930, and director of the summer session from 1920 to 1934. Longest managed the Alumni Fund from 1912 to 1951. Upon his retirement from active teaching, he assumed presidency of the First National Bank of Oxford.