Mohannad Ghawanmeh – 2017 Recipient

Major: Cinema and Media Studies
Degree: Ph.D.
School: UCLA
Dr. Jack Shaheen Memorial Scholarship



Message to Supporters: I wish to extend my utmost appreciation for your generous support of my academic progress towards a professorship in cinema and media studies, my occupational pursuit. I have recently fathered a lovely baby boy, who we have named Munir, Arabic for illuminator. Your support of my studies helps alleviate and endorses me at once.

I am training to become a film historian. My proposed dissertation centers on silent cinema in Egypt, 1896-1932. Among the more notable findings of my research is that Muslim Egyptians interacted with Egyptian Copts and Jews, as well as with European expats and immigrant Egyptians in a syncretic network of cinema practitioners.

Beside my dissertation, I am currently working on an essay due to be published within the Mizan series of Harvard University Press. The volume is about Muslims and cinema. My own contribution is on the sub-genre of the Islamic film within the Egyptian cinema. I am interested in the depiction of divinity in cinema, which has motivated me to write about the tradition of the Passion film, an essay that explores the British Board of Censorship’s objection to the materialization of Christ, and about the mode of commercial Egyptian films dealing with Islamic history that lasted about two decades, beginning with the filmic adaptation of Taha Hussein’s The Divine Promise(al-wa’d al-haq, 1950) as The Emergence of Islam(thuhour al-Islam, 1951)—a major box office and critical hit. Six films succeeded the original, concluding with the 1972 flop Al-Sheima’. This essay demonstrates not only Muslim sensitivities about depicting divinity, but also the wide divergence of opinion relating to the screen representation of Islamic history. Such documented ongoing disagreement among Muslims disclaims the uncritical, heard-mentality presumed of Muslims in misguided or malicious discourses relating to Islam in the west.

In closing, I wish to thank you once again and to assure you that I will use this award to increase the exposure and enhance the appreciation of a cinematic tradition that a minority in Egypt, let alone in America, know about. I look forward to acknowledging the contribution that this magnanimous scholarship has made to my research where appropriate in the resulting dissertation, as well as in the book I hope to publish thereof.

Bio: Mohannad Ghawanmeh is a film scholar and cineaste. He has produced, acted in, curated for, written about, and lectured on film. His expertise is centered on Arab cinema, but thoroughly extends into silent cinema, non-fiction cinema, transnational cinema, religious cinema, and more. Mohannad is a PhD candidate in Cinema and Media Studies in the University of California, Los Angeles. He is also a 2017/18 fellow in the American Research Center in Egypt. His dissertation investigates the political economy of silent cinema in Egypt, 1896–1932.

Areas of Interest:
Digital Media, Film

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *