Robyn Creswell

Robyn Creswell's picture
Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature
451 College St, New Haven, CT 06511-8906
+1 (203) 432-4752


I joined the Comparative Literature Department at Yale in 2014, after teaching two years at Brown University. I’ve taught courses on modern Arabic literature, art and revolution, and modernist poetry (in French, English, Spanish, and Arabic). I am currently finishing a book on the modernist poetry movement in Beirut in the 1950s and 1960s, which focuses on the work of the Syrian poet and critic Adonis.

In 2012, I was a fellow at the Cullman Center at the New York Public Library, where I worked on a translation of the Egyptian novelist Sonallah Ibrahim’s early masterpiece, That Smell and Notes from Prison (New Directions, 2013). I have also translated the Moroccan critic and fabulist Abdelfattah Kilito’s The Clash of Images (New Directions, 2010), from the French.  I am currently translating another book of Kilito’s, Adam’s Tongue, which explores theories of the origins of language in the classical Arabic tradition.

In addition to my scholarship, I regularly publish works of criticism in The New York Review of Books, Harper’s Magazine, and elsewhere. For this work, I received the Roger Shattuck Prize for Criticism in 2013. I have been poetry editor of The Paris Review since 2011.


B.A. Brown University, 1999
Ph.D. New York University, 2011

Research Interests

Modernist Poetry; Modern Arabic Literature; Theory and Practice of Translation; Contemporary American Poetry; Genre Theory; Politics of the Modern Middle East.

Publication Highlights

“Crise de vers: Adonis’ Diwan and the Institution of Modernism,” Modernism/Modernity 17:4, 877–98. [Project Muse]

“The Winds of Revolt,” Harper’s Magazine, November 2013, 89–94.

“Egypt’s Oracular Novelist,” The New Yorker, August 20, 2013 [The New Yorker]

“Chasing Beirut’s Ghosts,” The New York Review of Books, July 20, 2013. [The New York Review of Books]

“Egypt: The Cultural Revolution,” The New York Times Book Review, February 10, 2011. [The New York Times Book Review]

“Voices from a Different Syria, The New York Review of Books [blog], March 21, 2016. [The New York Review of Books]

 “The First Great Arabic Novel,” The New York Review of Books, October 8, 2015. [The New York Review of Books]

“Battle Lines,” The New Yorker, June 8 & 15, 2015. [The New Yorker]

“The Winds of Revolt,” Harper’s Magazine, November 2013, 89-94.

“Crise de vers: Adonis’ Diwan and the Institution of Modernism,” Modernism/Modernity 17:4 (November 2010), 877-898. [Project Muse]

Work In Progress

“Poetry at the Crossroads: Arabic Modernism in Beirut” [manuscript-in-progress]

Research Interests: 
Cultural History
Middle Eastern Languages and Literatures
Working Languages: