“Desiring Arabs” Wins ’08 Lionel Trilling Award

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Today Associate Professor Joseph Massad‘s Desiring Arabs has been awarded the 2008 Lionel Trilling Award, according an email sent to the MEALAC listserv. The award is given each year to honor the book authored by a Columbia faculty member “that is deemed to best exhibit the standards of intellect and scholarship found in Lionel Trilling’s work,” the prize’s website says.

Desiring Arabs is an intellectual history of the last 200 years of the Arabic world that focuses on Arab sexuality and Western interpretations of Arab sexuality. Massad—as well as the book itself—has been the at the center of much heated Middle Eastern controversy over the last four years. Massad was also one of the subjects criticized by the David Project-funded documentary Columbia Unbecoming.

Winners of the Trilling Award—as well as the Mark Van Doren Award—are selected by the Columbia College Student Council and the Academic Awards Committee. A Bwog tipster with a friend involved in the latter explains that AACers have been told to remain mum, so other than the fluke MEALAC email, there have been no announcements about the winner.

According to the Columbia College website, the awards ceremony will be held on May 8th (although half the dates on the website say “2007” and the others say “2008”, this year, May 8th is on a Thursday.)


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  1. More Info

    Want to learn more about the Lionel Trilling Book Award? Do you know something about it you want others to know?


  2. why  

    was the suicide bomber's wife so upset?
    Because he exploded too early.

  3. Note  

    The Award Ceremony will be held on May 7.

  4. will

    those same shrill "activists" who protested the tenure of al-haj (sp?) try to discredit this too?

  5. hopefully

    this means he finally gets tenure.

    • Hmmm

      I heard recently that he was denied tenure because years ago a student threatened him over her failing grade. Supposedly it was very egregious (she just didn't come to class a tall). So she threatens that if he gives her a failing grade, she will use her pull with the Trustees (she was related to one of them) to make sure he never gets tenure.

      Any one else hear this? I heard it this week.

  6. cupcake  

    the guy in that picture looks like the critic from ratatouille.

  7. To spell it out

    Well dumbassm it's just because it is just that ridiculous and unimaginative. What kind of brain damaged student would openly, blatantly threaten a professor? And someone with as much pride as Massad? Maybe I give people (like you) too much credit in general.

  8. anonymous

    If, as you say, this story is ridiculous, that would suggest that the story is untrue and someone simply made it up.

    And here you are repeating it - claiming you heard it 'from a grad student'.

    Why, one might wonder, would you repeat a story that you claim to find ridiculous? Normally one does not repeat a rumor that seems plainly silly.

    The best explanation of the situation, then, seems to be that you just made it up.

  9. Look  

    you're obviously one of those losers who gets off on being a douche bag on the internets, feels a little thrill with every unprovoked insult. It's the only realm where you have any sort of say or power, because in all likelihood you're some fugly loner who's friends live in his computer. So I'll let you pat yourself on the back and "win" your silent game of "How can I Out-Douche Myself Today?" Take another look at the tag line of this blog, dumbass. It's a *gossip* blog. There is no validity threshold for said gossip. But sure, such details easily go unnoticed for self righteous sexually frustrated douches, I understand.

    I actually took multiple classes with Massad and loved the experience. The only kernel of validity in this rumor is Massad not standing for a threat; he's very principled and proud of it. I think he deserves tenure and people are always denied tenure for bullshit reasons. Bringing any possible reason to light would actually help Massad, if enough people knew it was for a petty reason.

    • anonymous

      The implication of what I said, since I'm not sure you grasped it, is that you probably made up this rumor as an excuse for Massad's not having tenure.

      • sigh  

        No, dear moron, your accusation rings loud and clear. This is getting tiring so I'll spell it out for you a little further. You clearly don't understand causality.You say that because it's ridiculous this suggests it is untrue or made up. But just because something is "ridiculous"--even if I concede it's ridiculous--doesn't make it untrue. Read the damn news for ample proof of that. Invalidity is not contingent upon what I think is ridiculous or audacious or unfair. Many other divisive professors, especially at other institutions have been denied tenure for ridiculous reasons or ridiculous closed door power struggles.


        I agree with people about the title. "Desiring Arabs" threw me the first time I read it because it's grammatically ambiguous. Though perhaps that's his intention.

        • anonymous

          You're not seriously proposing the "It's such a crazy story, it HAS to be true!" defense, are you?

          Such cognitive dissonance at the mere suggestion that your beloved professor simply might not have deserved tenure for his work so far..

          • AffirmativeInaction  

            Dear "Anonymous": learn to read. Putting words in people's mouths doesn't work outside of your cushy internets. And he's not "beloved".

            "at the mere suggestion"

            You'd have to suggest it *first*. Take a bow for your utter Fail.

  10. sigh  

    and that's *whose* since the douche is also likely the brand of Douche would feel a thrill at correcting someone on the internets

  11. DHI  

    The name of the book is weird, because it's easy to read it like "Arabs" is the object of "Desiring" instead of the subject.

    "Yes I am desiring Arabs very much"

  12. idiots  

    instead of speculating about its name, read the damn book

    • DHI  

      Man I can't go around reading every book that has a name, that doesn't make me an idiot.

      Why don't you read the goddamn law code of New York State?

      #20 - from the Amazon description, it seemed to be discussing the desires of Arabs, and the non-Arab views towards their sexual desires, not whether they were sexually desirable. I agree that your interpretation is closer to what the title implied. It could be that the summary was wrong or I misinterpreted it.

  13. perhaps  

    Desirous Arabs would have been a better choice.

  14. maybe

    its supposed to be both. deserious arabs and the people that desire arabs. now there's a title!

  15. clearly  

    "desiring" is used as an adjective. I spoke to Massad in person. The publishers just wouldn't let him publish it under "Horny Arabs."

  16. agon

    Obviously, the title is a wordplay suggesting Arabs as both objects and subjects of desire. But then again, one would need to actually read the book to have an idea about that...

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