The Importance of Being Bassem: Political Satire and Revolution in Egypt

A seminar with Dr. Samia Mehrez, American University in Cairo

During Egypt’s ongoing revolution political satire became part of the daily strategies of resistance and risk-taking that has manifested itself through visual, performative, and linguistic forms and modes of circulation and dissemination that were in many respects totally new to Egyptians. This seminar will focus on Bassem Youssef’s trajectory and his renowned satirical TV program Al Birnamig (The Program) - often compared to Jon Stewart’s Daily Show- as an exceptional example of such revolutionary humor that has been instrumental in mobilizing Egyptians throughout the past two years.


Samia Mehrez obtained her BA and MA degrees at the American University in Cairo (AUC) and completed her PH.D. at UCLA where her dissertation focused on the works of the Egyptian writer Gamal al-Ghitani. She taught at Cornell University from 1984-1990 in the Department of Near Eastern Studies before she came to AUC where she currently teaches modern Arabic literature in Arabic and in Translation as well as courses on Translation Studies and Theory in the Department of Arab and Islamic Civilizations. She is the founding director of the Center for Translation Studies at AUC. She has published numerous articles in the fields of modern Arabic literature, postcolonial literature, translation studies, gender studies, and cultural studies. She is the author of Egyptian Writers between History and Fiction: Essays on Naguib Mahfouz, Sonallah Ibrahim and Gamal al-Ghitani, AUC Press, 1994 and 2005 and Egypt’s Culture Wars: Politics and Practice, Routledge 2008, AUC Press 2010. Her edited anthologies A Literary Atlas of Cairo: One hundred Years in the Life of the City and The Literary Life of Cairo: One Hundred Years in the Heart of the City in which she has translated numerous Egyptian writers are published by AUC Press 2010, 2011 and in Arabic at Dar Al-Shorouk, Cairo. She is the editor of Translating Egypt’s Revolution: The Language of Tahrir, AUC Press 2012 and has recently completed the translation into English of Mona Prince’s memoir of Egypt’s January 2011 uprising entitled Ismi Thawra (Revolution is my name). She is currently working on a book-length manuscript tentatively entitled The Making of Revolutionary Culture in Egypt.

Published Aug. 6, 2013 1:56 PM