Professor Rebecca Gould

Professor Rebecca Gould

School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music
Professor and Professorial Research Fellow, Islamic World and Comparative Literature

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Rebecca Gould is the author of Writers and Rebels: The Literature of Insurgency in the Caucasus (Yale University Press, 2016), which was awarded the University of Southern California Book Prize in Literary and Cultural Studies and the best book award by the Association for Women in Slavic Studies, and the translator of After Tomorrow the Days Disappear: Ghazals and Other Poems Hasan Sijzi of Delhi (Northwestern University Press, 2016), and The Prose of the Mountains: Tales of the Caucasus (Central European University Press, 2015). From 2018-2023, she is PI for the ERC-funded project, “Global Literary Theory: Caucasus Literatures Compared.”


  • BA (University of California, Berkeley)
  • PhD (Columbia University)


Born and educated in the US, I have lived and conducted fieldwork and research in Iran (2012, 2014); Tajikistan (2007); Palestine (2011-12); Syria (2010); Egypt (2010, 2012); Azerbaijan (2006); Hyderabad, India (2008); Daghestan (2004, 2006); Georgia (2004-6, 2013); Chechnya and Ingushetia (2006).

I have taught at Columbia University (in the Literature Humanities Program), Yale-NUS College in Singapore (where I helped to develop Singapore’s first liberal arts curriculum), and the University of Bristol, where I was a Reader of Translation Studies and Comparative Literature prior to joining the University of Birmingham as a Professorial Research Fellow.


Postgraduate supervision

I am happy to receive requests for PhD supervision for projects relating to Middle Eastern Literatures, comparative literature, Islamic law, comparative legal cultures, the literatures of the Caucasus and Central Asia, world literature, and Islamic Studies broadly. Interdisciplinary projects at the intersections of literary and legal theory, and the humanities and the social sciences, are of particular interest.

Current PhD students
2018- Yana Shabana, “The Role of Framed Translation,” (funded through the Higher Education Scholarship for Palestinians scheme)
2017- Asil Ateeri, Virginia Woolf in Arabic Translation (funded through the Higher Education Scholarship for Palestinians scheme)

Find out more - our PhD French Studies  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


My primary expertise is in the literatures and cultures of the Caucasus, for which I have been awarded an ERC Starting Grant, research grants from the The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, the American Councils for International Education, and the International Research & Exchanges Board, and fellowships from the Van Leer Institute (Jerusalem), the Forum for Transregional Studies (Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin), and the Institute for Advanced Study (Central European University). In addition to my scholarship on Persian, Arabic, Russian, and Georgian literatures past and present, I maintain an active interest in the intersections of anthropology, comparative literature, and social theory. 

My current book project, tentatively entitled, The Obligation to Migrate: Forced Migration and Muslim Memory in the Caucasus, is presented in this lecture, given at New York University in 2017, and this presentation, commissioned by Commissioned by The School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies, University of Arizona.

Interviews with me are available at:

My public writings are available at:

Other activities

Editor, Central Asian Literatures in Translation, Academic Studies Press 

Evaluator for awards and programs

  • Arts & Humanities Research Council Peer Review College (2017-2020)
  • Discipline Peer Reviewer (Literature), Fulbright U.S. Scholar applications (2017)
  • External evaluator, Research Foundation - Flanders (Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek - FWO) (2017)
  • Expert Reader, British-Kuwait Society Book Prize (University of Cambridge and Mubarak Trust) (2016)
  • Expert Reader, National Translation Award in Prose, American Literary Translators Association (2016)
  • External evaluator, grants in literary studies, Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation (Georgia) (2015)
  • Associate, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University  


Edited books

  • 2020 Routledge Handbook of Translation and Activism, co-editor with Kayvan Tahmasebian; contributions focusing on law and translation; translation and migration; translation & world literatures (Abingdon: Routledge Handbooks in Translation Studies). 


  • 2016 Writers and Rebels: The Literature of Insurgency in the Caucasus (New Haven and London: Yale University Press). ISBN: 978-0300200645. 336pp.   
    • Winner, University of Southern California Book Prize in Literary and Cultural Studies
    • Winner, Best Book by a Woman, Association for Women in Slavic Studies
    • Honorable Mention, Joseph Rothschild Prize in Nationalism and Ethnic Studies, Association for the Study of Nationalities
    • Honorable Mention, Davis Center Book Prize, Harvard University’s Davis Center
    • Shortlisted, Central Eurasian Studies Society Book Award (History and Humanities)
    • Reviewed in Modern Language Quarterly (2018) 79 (2): 230-232; The Comparatist 41 (2017): 366-368; Postcolonial Text 13.1 (2018); The Russian Review 76.3 (2017): 544-545; Slavic Review 76.3 (2017): 818-819; Caucasus Survey 6 (2017): 81-83; Choice 54.7 (2017).
    • Subject of interview with Olga Breininger on New Books Network 

Translations and editions

  • 2019  High Tide of the Eyes: Poems by Bijan Elahi. Bilingual edition co-translated from the Persian with Kayvan Tahmasebian (New York: The Operating System, Glossarium: Unsilenced Texts & Modern Translations series). ISBN: 978-1946031556.
  • 2019  The Death of Bagrat Zakharych and other Stories by Vazha-Pshavela (London: Paper & Ink). 80pp. Translation from the Georgian. ISBN: 978-1911475392.
  •  2019 Lecture on Fear and Other Poems by Kayvan Tahmasebian. Co-translated from the Persian with Kayvan Tahmasebian. (Newark: Radical Paper Press).
  • 2016 After Tomorrow the Days Disappear: Ghazals and Other Poems of Hasan Sijzi of Delhi (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, World Classics series). ISBN: 978-0810132306. 144pp. Translation from the Persian, critical introduction, and critical apparatus.
  • 2015 The Prose of the Mountains: Tales of the Caucasus (Budapest: Central European University Press, CEUP Classics series). ISBN: 978-6155053528. 240pp. Translation from the Georgian of three stories by Aleksandre Qazbegi, afterword, critical apparatus.

Peer-reviewed scholarly articles

  • 2020 “Enchanting Literary Modernity: Idris Bazorkin’s Postcolonial Soviet Pastoral,” Modern Language Review 15(2): 405-428.
  • 2019 “The Persianate Cosmology of Historical Inquiry in the Caucasus: ʿAbbās Qulī Āghā Bākīkhānūf’s Cosmological Cosmopolitanism,” Comparative Literature 71(3): 272-297.
  • 2019 “Punishing Violent Thoughts: Islamic Dissent and Thoreauvian Disobedience in post-9/11 America,” Journal of American Studies. * Awarded the British Association of American Studies' Arthur Miller Centre Essay Prize"  
  • 2019 “Is the ‘Hate’ in Hate Speech the ‘Hate’ in Hate Crime? Waldron and Dworkin on Political Legitimacy,” Jurisprudence 10(2): 171-187.
  • 2019 “Justice Deferred: Legal Duplicity and the Scapegoat Mentality in Paul Laurence Dunbar’s Jim Crow America,” Law & Literature (Online First:
  • 2019  “The Aesthetic Terrain of Settler Colonialism: Katherine Mansfield and Anton Chekhov’s Natives,” Journal of Postcolonial Writing 55(1): 48-65.
  • 2018 “Democracy and the Vernacular Imagination in Vico’s Plebian Philology,” History of Humanities 3(2): 247–277.
  • 2018 “Legal Form and Legal Legitimacy: The IHRA Definition of Antisemitism as a Case Study in Censored Speech,” Law, Culture and the Humanities.
  • 2018     “Memorializing Akhundzadeh: Contradictory Cosmopolitanism and Post-Soviet Narcissism in Old Tbilisi,” Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies 20(4): 488-509.
  • 2018 “Hard Translation: Persian Poetry and Post-National Literary Form,” Forum for Modern Language Studies.
  • 2018 “Telling the Story of Literature from Inside Out: The Methods and Tools of Non-European Poetics,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 38.1.
  • 2017 (co-authored with Shamil Shikhaliev), “Beyond the Taqlīd/Ijtihād Dichotomy: Daghestani Legal Thought under Russian Rule,” Islamic Law and Society 24(1-2): 142-169.
  • 2016 “The Persian Translation of Arabic Aesthetics: Rādūyānī’s Rhetorical Renaissance,” Rhetorica: A Journal of the History of Rhetoric 33(4): 339-371.
  • 2016 “The Critique of Religion as Political Critique: Mīrzā Fatḥ ʿAlī Ākhūndzāda’s Pre-Islamic Xenology,” Intellectual History Review 26(2): 171-184.
    • Winner of the International Society for Intellectual History’s Charles Schmitt Prize.
  • 2016 “Wearing the Belt of Oppression: Khāqānī’s Christian Qaṣīda and the Prison Poetry of Medieval Shirvān,” Journal of Persianate Studies 9(1): 19-44.
  • 2016 “Finding Bazorkin: A Journey from Anthropologyto Literature,” Anthropology and Humanism 41(1): 86-101.
  • 2016 “Vested Reading: Writing the Self through Ethan Frome,” Life Writing 13(4): 415-430.
  • 2015 “Ijtihād against Madhhab: Legal Hybridity and the Meanings of Modernity in Early Modern Daghestan,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 57(1): 35-66 (on the transmission of critical legal reasoning from Yemen to Daghestan).
  • 2015 “The Geographies of ʿAjam: The Circulation of Persian Poetry from South Asia to the Caucasus,” The Medieval History Journal 18(1): 87-119.
  • 2015 “The Much-Maligned Panegyric: Toward a Political Poetics of Premodern Literary Form,” Comparative Literature Studies 52(2): 254-288 (comparing Persian, South Asian, and East Asian panegyric genres).
  • 2015 “Philology’s Contingent Genealogies,” Philology: An International Journal on the Evolution of Languages, Cultures and Texts, invited contributor to the inaugural issue (2015): 53-66.
  • 2014 “The Poetics from Athens to al-Andalus: Ibn Rushd’s Grounds for Comparison,” Modern Philology 112(1): 1-24 (on the reception of Aristotle’s Poetics across the medieval Islamic world and Europe).
  • 2014 “Hijab as Commodity Form: Veiling, Unveiling, and Misveiling in Contemporary Iran,” Feminist Theory 15(3): 221-240 (based on fieldwork in Iran, 2011-2). Reprinted in Women of the Middle East, vol. 1 ed. Fatma Müge Göçek (London: Routledge, 2015), 319-338.
  • 2014 “Engendering Critique: Postnational Feminism in Postcolonial Syria,” Women Studies Quarterly (special issue on Solidarities) 42(3/4): 209-229.
    • Winner of the Women’s Caucus for the Modern Languages Association’s Florence Howe Award for Feminist Scholarship in the field of foreign languages, 2015.
  • 2014 “The Materiality of Resistance: Israel’s Apartheid Wall in an Age of Globalization,” Social Text (118): 1-22. (Partial reprint in Islamic World of Art 2017 [3.1]: 16-33.)
  • 2014 “Antiquarianism as Genealogy: Arnaldo Momigliano’s Method,” History and Theory 53(2): 212-233.
  • 2014 “Conservative in Form, Revolutionary in Content: Rethinking World Literary Canons in an Age of Globalization,” Canadian Review of Comparative Literature/ Revue Canadienne de Littérature Comparée 41(3): 270-286. Jointly published with Journal of Comparative Literature and World Literature (Peking University).
  • 2014 “Form Without a Home: On Translating the Indo-Persian Radīf,” Translation Review 90: 15-28 (on the ghazals of Ḥasan Sijzī Dehlavī and Bīdel Dehlavī; dated 2014, published in 2015).
  • 2014 “Aleksandre Qazbegi’s Mountaineer Prosaics: The Anticolonial Vernacular on Georgian-Chechen Borderlands,” Ab Imperio: Studies of New Imperial History in the Post-Soviet Space 15 (1): 361-390.
  • 2014 “The Lonely Hero and Chechen Modernity: Interpreting the Story of Gekha the Abrek,” Journal of Folklore Research 51(2): 199-222.
  • 2013 “Inimitability versus Translatability: The Structure of Literary Meaning in Arabo-Persian Poetics,” TheTranslator 19(1): 81-104.
  • 2013 “Topographies of Anticolonialism: The Ecopoetical Sublime in the Caucasus from Tolstoy to Mamakaev,” Comparative Literature Studies, special issue on Eco-criticism. 50(1): 87-107.
  • 2013 “Jim Crow in the Soviet Union,” Callaloo: A Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters 36(1): 125-141.
  • 2013 “Laws, Exceptions, Norms: Kierkegaard, Schmitt, and Benjamin on the Exception,” Telos: A Quarterly Journal of Politics, Philosophy, Critical Theory, Culture, and the Arts 162: 77–96.
  • 2013 “The Death of Caucasus Philology: Towards a Discipline Beyond Areal Divides,” Iran and the Caucasus 17(3): 275-293 (explores the historical relation between philology and area studies).
  • 2012 “Prisons Before Modernity: Incarceration in the Medieval Indo-Mediterranean,” Al-Masāq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean 24(2): 179-197.
  • 2012 “Adam Bede’s Dutch Realism and the Novelist’s Point of View,” Philosophy and Literature 36(2): 404-423.
  • 2012 “World Literature as a Communal Apartment: Semyon Lipkin’s Ethics of Translational Difference,” Translation and Literature, special issue on Translators and their Worlds, Peter France, ed. 21(3): 402-421.
  • 2012 “Philology, Education, Democracy,” Journal of Aesthetic Education 46(4): 57-69.
  • 2012 “Allegory and the Critique of Sovereignty: Ismail Kadare’s Political Theologies,” Studies in the Novel 44(2): 208-230.
  • 2012 “Leaving the House of Memory: Post-Soviet Traces of Deportation Memory,” Mosaic, A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature 45(2): 149-164.
  • 2012 “Reading Ruins Against the Grain: Istanbul, Derbent, Postcoloniality,” Culture, Theory, &Critique 53(1): 19-36.
  • 2012 “The Sublimity of Charles Bovary,” Literary Imagination: The Review of the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics 14(3): 366-372.
  • 2011 “The Geography of Comparative Literature,” Journal of Literary Theory 5(2): 167–186 (on the global history of Comparative Literature).
  • 2011 “Secularism and Belief in Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge,” Journal of Islamic Studies 22(3): 339-373.
  • 2011 “How Gulbadan Remembered: The Book of Humāyūn as an Act of Representation,” Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal 6: 121-127.
  • 2011 “The Modernity of Premodern Islam in Contemporary Daghestan,” Contemporary Islam: Dynamics of Muslim Life 5(2): 161-183.
  • 2011 “Modernity, Madness, Disenchantment: Don Quixote’s Hunger,” Symplokē: A Journal for the Intermingling of Literary, Cultural and Theoretical Scholarship 19(1/2): 35-53.
  • 2011 “Dialectics of Filiation and Affiliation: Toma Baliauri’s Testament and the Archive of Anticolonialism,” Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies 13(4): 640-650.
  • 2010 “Becoming a Georgian Woman,” Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 31(2): 127-144.
  • 2008 “How Newness Enters the World: The Methodology of Sheldon Pollock,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 28(3): 533-557.
  • 2007 “Transgressive Sanctity: The Abrek in Chechen Culture,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 8(2): 271-306.

Book chapters

  • 2015 “Why Daghestan is Good to Think: Moshe Gammer, Daghestan, and Global Islamic History,” Written Culture in Daghestan, ed. Moshe Gammer (Helsinki: Annales Academiae Scientiarum Fennicae), 17-40 (invited foreword examining the state of the art of Daghestani Studies).
  • 2014 “Everyday Violence, Quotidian Grief: Patriarchal Bargains in Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge,” Women Living Under Muslim Laws Dossier 32-33: Sexualities, Culture and Society in Muslim Contexts, ed. Anissa Hélie (London: Women Living Under Muslim Laws), 123-135. 
  • 2012 “Imam Shamil,” Russia’s People of Empire: Life Stories from Eurasia, 1500 to the Present, eds. Steve Norris & Willard Sunderland (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press), 117-128.
  • 2012 “Ignaty Krachkovsky’s Encounters with Arabic Literary Modernity through Ameen Rihani, 1910-1922,” Ameen Rihani’s Arab-American Legacy, ed. Naji Oueijan (Louaize: Notre Dame University Press), 325-345.
  • 2007 “Language Dreamers: Race and the Politics of Etymology in the Caucasus,” Caucasus Paradigms: Anthropologies, Histories, and the Making of a World Area (Halle Studies in the Anthropology of Eurasia, Volume 13), eds. Bruce Grant & Lale Yalçın-Heckmann (Münster: LIT Verlag), 143-166.

View all publications in research portal


Islam, Countering Violent Extremism, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the former Soviet Union.

Media experience

I have been interviewed in English, Russian, Georgian, and Persian for various media outlets around the world.


  • Conflict in the Caucasus
  • Iran
  • Islam
  • Political violence 
  • Terrorism
  • Free speech 
  • Gender equality in the Islamic world