Nouri Gana, associate professor of comparative literature and Near Eastern languages and cultures at UCLA, has been named one of 13 recipients of the 2017 New Directions fellowship from the Andrew Mellon Foundation. An accomplished scholar of the literatures and cultures of the Arab world and its diasporas, Gana is the fourth UCLA professor since 2006 to receive this fellowship.
The competitive fellowship allows faculty members in the humanities and humanistic social sciences to pursue training outside of their established areas of expertise, encouraging the highest standards of cross-disciplinary research. The fellowship covers training, salary and benefits up to a three-year period.
“Here at UCLA, we greatly value our culture of interdisciplinary study,” said David Schaberg, dean of humanities. “Professor Gana is an outstanding faculty member pursuing research that will contribute to the vision of the Mellon New Directions program.”
For the past 10 years, Gana has explored modernist Arabic culture, including literature, music and film, as well as their intersection with European culture and critical theory. He will use the New Directions fellowship to reorient his research and teaching toward modern Turkish.
The fellowship will allow Gana to undertake immersive language training in modern and Ottoman Turkish in Istanbul, Turkey, as well as intensive study of modernist Turkish literature, history and religion. By expanding his focus to Turkish studies, Gana will become one of very few scholars to engage in the comparative study of modern Arabic and Turkish literary and cultural production.
Gana's critically acclaimed first book, “Signifying Loss: Towards a Poetics of Narrative Mourning,” explores the intersections between tropes of loss and political changes in modernist and postcolonial literatures. Building on his exploration of “Arab Melancholia,” he is interested in rethinking his approach as he investigates how Arab and Turkish writers and artists have negotiated modernity in the wake of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
Past New Directions fellowship recipients from UCLA include Gil Hochberg, a professor of comparative literature and gender studies, in 2012; Eleanor Kaufman, a professor of comparative literature, in 2009; and Carol Bakhos, a professor of Near Eastern languages and cultures, in 2006.
The New York-based nonprofit Andrew Mellon Foundation aims to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend contributions toward the humanities and the arts in order to perpetuate human flourishing and the well-being of diverse, democratic societies. To this end, the foundation supports exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work.