Department of History

Elias Muhanna

Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, Associate Professor of History
Prospect House 206
Areas of Expertise Middle East, History of Science, Technology, Environment, and Medicine
Office Hours On leave in 2023-24.


Elias Muhanna, Associate Professor Comparative Literature and History, is a scholar of the medieval and early modern Islamic world. His research focuses on the history of encyclopedic writing in the Islamic world and Europe, the cultural production of the Mamluk Empire (1250-1517), and the problem of the vernacular in different historical settings. His most recent publication is The World in a Book: al-Nuwayri and the Islamic Encyclopedic Tradition (Princeton University Press, 2018), which won the Morris D. Forkosch Prize from the Journal of the History of Ideas. His selected translation of Shihab al-Din al-Nuwayri's 14th-century Arabic compendium, The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition (Penguin, 2016) was chosen as a "Best Book of 2016" by NPR and The Guardian.  He is also the editor of a volume of collected essays, The Digital Humanities and Islamic & Middle East Studies (DeGruyter, 2016). In addition to his academic writing, Muhanna is a contributor to The New Yorker, and publishes regularly in such venues as The New York Times, The Nation, and other periodicals.