Dr Hany Rashwan

Dr Hany Rashwan

School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music
Honorary Research Fellow

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Hany Rashwan is a scholar of Arabic and Comparative Poetics. He is an Assistant professor of Arabic Language and Literature at UAE University as well as an Honorary Research Fellow at The University of Birmingham. He is the recipient of the International Society for the History of Rhetoric (ISHR) Research Fellowship. From 2018 to 2021, he was a Research Fellow of Arabic Literary Theory in a project funded by the European Research Council (ERC) at the University of Birmingham. Prior to joining the GlobalLIT project to lead the Arabic Poetics strand, he was an Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the American University of Beirut. The AUC University Press will publish his first monograph with the title “Rediscovering the ancient Egyptian Literature through Arabic Poetics.”

He has been invited to lecture publically in numerous universities and organisations, to speak on various features of Arabic and comparative poetics, in places as prestigious as The British Library, The British Museum, Alexandria Bibliotheca, The Egyptian Museum of Cairo, and the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Leiden and Columbia. He is dedicated to engaging the public in dialogue about the role of literature in our society, particularly on critically analysing and interpreting religious texts in service of subduing extremism.


PhD in Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.


By training, Dr Rashwan is a comparatist whose primary focus is comparative rhetoric, which is a new and fertile discipline.  He defended a PhD thesis on Arabic jinās, or what can loosely be termed ‘wordplay’, ‘paronomasia’, ‘pun’, examined through a comparative lens with ancient Egyptian rhetorical traditions. Jinās is one of the most critical literary devices present throughout Arabic poetry, literary prose, songs, and proverbs, because it covers an array of phonetic, semantic and graphic associations between words that have similar forms but with different meanings. His PhD thesis aimed to rediscover the nature of jinās constructions and the underlying mechanism by which they function in both Arabic and ancient Egyptian poetics, using the linguistic kinship between the two languages. By using Arabic poetic traditions, Dr Rashwan was able to rediscover ancient literary registers and tones, which had been obliterated when studied in Euro-American rhetorical traditions.


Dr Rashwan has taught at SOAS, AUB, and University of Birmingham

  •  Introduction to Arabic and Comparative Literature
  • Women Writings in the Arab World 
  • Introduction to Arabic Literary Theory and Criticism
  • Introduction to non-European Comparative Rhetoric
  • Arabic Political Speech


Comparative Literature, History of Rhetoric, Translation and Reception Studies, Postcolonial Studies, Philosophies of Language, Visual Poetics, Word and Image, Islamic Literature 

Dr Rashawn’s studies bridge the two disciplines of comparative Literature and comparative poetics to acknowledge the relationship between the ‘vocal form’ and its ‘eloquent content’.

I aim to understand how the early philologists differentiated between Arabic balāghah, as a scientific field that studies the creative interaction between the imagination, poetic form, and eloquent content and khitābah (oral-public speech in the Greek sense of rhetoric). In doing so, I am opening the door to previously unexplored literary and philosophical approaches, under the umbrella of connected fields such as Comparative Rhetoric, Comparative Poetics, and Comparative Literature. I also intend to work on various Arabic rhetorical devices that are still understudied in Euro-American academia, such as moḥassanāt el-lafz and moḥassanāt el-ma‘na (the beautifiers of meaning and vocal form).

Other activities

I have presented my research widely at many international conferences, ranging numerous academic disciplines, mainly related to translation studies, rhetorical and philosophical studies, empirical studies of literature and media, world literature, and Egyptological studies. I have used such academic platforms to promote my comparative balāghah research. I have been invited to lecture on various features of Arabic balāghah, delivering in both Arabic and English languages, including The British Library, The British Museum, Bibliotheca Alexandrina, The Egyptian Museum of Cairo or the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Leiden.



Rashwan, Hany. Rediscovering the Ancient Egyptian literature through premodern Arabic poetics, American University in Cairo Press. (Forthcoming)

Edited volumes

Rashwan, Hany. Post-Eurocentric Poetics: New Approaches from Arabic, Persian and Turkic Literary Theory, Co-edited with Rebecca Ruth Gould and Nasrin Askari, British Academy: Oxford University Press. (Forthcoming)

Rashwan, Hany. Pre-modern comparative literary practice in the multilingual Islamic world(s), co-editing with Huda Fakhreddine and David Larsen, British Academy: Oxford University Press. (Forthcoming)

Rashwan, Hany. Arabic poetics between the vocal form (lafẓ) and eloquent meaning (maʿnā), a memorial volume for Prof Stefan Sperl (SOAS), co-editing with Nuha Al-Shaar, Islamic History and Civilization Studies and Texts: Brill. (Forthcoming)

Editing special issue in Peer-Reviewed Journals

Rashwan, Hany. ‘Rhetoric’’ and ‘Poetics’ in the premodern Islamic World(s), in Rhetorica: A Journal of the History of Rhetoric. (Forthcoming)

Rashwan, Hany. Translingual and multilingual poetics in the premodern Islamic world of literature, in Postmedieval: A Journal of Medieval Cultural Studies. (Forthcoming) 

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

Rashwan, Hany. “Literary genre as a theoretical colonisation by modernism: Arabic balāghah and its literariness in ancient Egyptian literature,” in Interdisciplinary Literary Studies: A Journal of Criticism and Theory, 2021, vol. 23, No 1: 24-68.

Rashwan, Hany. “Against Eurocentrism: Decolonizing Eurocentric literary theory in the Arabic and Ancient Egyptian poetics,” in The Howard Journal of Communications, special issue on Theorizing Beyond the West, edited by Kehbuma Langmia, 2021, vol. 32, issue 2: 1-34.

Rashwan, Hany. “Arabic jinās is not pun, wortspiel, calembour or paronomasia: A post-Eurocentric comparative approach to the conceptual untranslatability of literary terms in Arabic and ancient Egyptian cultures,” in Rhetorica: A Journal of the History of Rhetoric, 2020, vol. 38, issue 4: 335–370.

Rashwan, Hany. “Introduction to comparative balāghah through the lens of sentence and word: The praise hymn of Ramses II on Abu Simbel temple as a case study,” in Al-Abhath-Brill: Journal of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, 2020, vol. 68, issue 1: 106-181.

Rashwan, Hany. “Ancient Egyptian Image-Writing: Between the Unspoken and Visual Poetics,” in Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt, 2019, volume 55, 137-160.

Peer-reviewed Chapters

Rashwan, Hany. “Comparing the Visual Untranslatability of Ancient Egyptian and Arabic Writing Systems” in Yannis Haralambous (ed.), Grapholinguistics in the 21st Century 2020. Proceedings Grapholinguistics and Its Applications, Vol. 4a, Brest: Fluxus Editions, (2020):505–516.

Rashwan, Hany. “Comparative balāghah: Arabic and ancient Egyptian literary rhetoric through the lens of Post-Eurocentric Poetics,” in Keith Lloyd (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Comparative World Rhetorics: Studies in the History, Application, and Teaching of Rhetoric Beyond Traditional Greco-Roman Contexts, New York: Routledge, (2020): 389-403.

Rashwan, Hany. “‘Annihilation is atop the lake’: The Visual Untranslatability of an Ancient Egyptian Short Story,” in Matthew Reynolds, (ed.), Prismatic Translation, Transcript 10, Cambridge: Legenda, (2019): 72-95.

Rashwan, Hany. “Philosophical and literary argumentation methods in the ancient Egyptian rhetorical systems,” in Proceedings of the first European Conference on Argumentation and reasoned action, Institute of Philosophy (IFILNOVA), D. Mohammed and M. Lewiński (eds.), Vol. II, London: College Publications, (2016): 849-863.

Rashwan, Hany. “A new rhetorical reading of the Zigzag Stela of Ramses II (Tanis V, Face c),” in Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities Newsletter, no. 2, (Spring 2014): 1-6.

English-to-Arabic Translation

Neal Spencer, Anna Stevens and Michaela Binder, Amara West: Living in Egyptian Nubia. London: Trustees of the British Museum, 2014. (112 pages)

For more about his publications, visit his Academia website


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