Arab American studies scholar and creative writer Fedwa Malti-Douglas was recently honored at the White House and was granted a National Humanities Medal. Read the full University of California press release by clicking here. Excerpted below:
Food activist Alice Waters, historian Vicki Lynn Ruiz and Arabic letters scholar Fedwa Malti-Douglas are among 10 recipients of the 2014 National Humanities Medal, bestowed by the White House. The honorees, named today (Sept. 3), will receive their medals at a Sept. 10 ceremony at the White House.
Malti-Douglas, Martha C. Kraft Professor of Humanities emerita at Indiana University, is a two-time UCLA alumna. Her work in Arabic literature includes “Men, Women, and God(s),” an extended study of the Egyptian feminist Nawal El Saadawi’s oeuvre. Other subjects Malti-Douglas has tackled range from the bukhala(misers) of medieval Arab literature to the comic strips, political and otherwise, of the Middle East and North Africa today.
In retirement from academia, Malti-Douglas has focused increasingly on her creative writing, earning a Master of Fine Arts degree from Bennington College and studying at the Writers Studio in New York. Her post-academe output so far includes a chapbook of visual poetry, the beginnings of a third novel, and a nearly complete draft of her memoirs. Asked about the remarkable variety of her career, Malti-Douglas says simply that she doesn’t want to write the same book over and over again. “For me, that would be death,” she says. “I need to keep exploring.”
The National Humanities Medal honors an individual or organization whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the human experience, broadened citizens’ engagement with history and literature or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to cultural resources.