Ala Alryyes

Associate Professor
Klapper Hall 505

Research Interests

My current book project examines how war haunts eighteenth-century fiction and philosophy. War, I argue, shapes the manner in which the novel takes up and experiments with such fields of knowledge as science (including Galilean mechanics and surgical treatises), history, political thought, and the European philosophical tradition. My book speaks to war’s cultural influence, bringing eighteenth-century literary scholarship to bear on this urgent international conversation. I am also interested in the poetics of space and cartography and recently published “Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe: ‘Maps,’ Natural Law, and the Enemy,” in the journal Eighteenth-Century Life.

My first book, Original Subjects: The Child, the Novel, and the Nation (Harvard University Press, 2001), theorized the child as a key figure of beginnings that links European literary and national narratives. In 2011, I published A Muslim American Slave: The Arabic Life of Omar Ibn Said (University of Wisconsin Press). Omar, an opera partly based on my translation of Said’s 1831 autobiography premiered at the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, SC, in Summer 2022.

Selected Publication

War’s Knowledge and the Novel: Conflict, Subjectivity, and the Representation of Ordinary Life, 1660-1771. Work in Progress.

A Muslim American Slave: The Life of Omar Ibn Said (Madison: Wisconsin Studies in Autobiography, University of Wisconsin Press, 2011). Winner: Best Books for General Audiences, The American Association of School Librarians.

Original Subjects: The Child, the Novel, and the Nation (Cambridge: Harvard Studies in Comparative Literature, 2001).

Articles & Book Chapters

“Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe: ‘Maps,’ Natural Law, and the Enemy,” Eighteenth-Century Life 44, 3 (2020).

“A Journal of the Plague Year as a Sequel to Robinson Crusoe,” Digital Defoe 12, 1 (Online-2020)

“Uncle Toby and the Bullet’s Story in Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy,” ELH 82, 4 (2015).

“The Ship, by Jabra Ibrahim Jabra,” entry in City Secrets: Books, ed. Mark Strand (New York: Fang Duff Kahn Publishers, 2009).

“War at a Distance: Court-Martial Narratives in the Eighteenth Century,” Eighteenth-Century Studies 41, 4 (2008).

“Plutarch and Swift as Sources for Sterne’s ‘Elephant’ in Tristram Shandy,” Notes and Queries 252, 4 (2007).

“Description, the Novel, and the Senses,” The Senses and Society 1, 1 (2006).

Review Essays

“Theorizing the Novel on the River Kwai.” Review essay of Marina MacKay, Ian Watt: The Novel and the Wartime Critic (Oxford University Press, 2018). Eighteenth-Century Studies 54, 1: 193-201 (2020).

Pierre Joris and Habib Tengour, eds. Poems for the Millennium, Volume Four: Book of North African Literature. (The University of California Press, 2012). The Journal of North African Studies 19, 5: 864-67 (2014).