January 28, 2003 - Haverford University: Michael A. Sells taught in Southern Tunisia with the Peace Corps at: (1) Medenine (2) Foum Tatahouine and (3) Jerba

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Tunisia: Peace Corps Tunisia : The Peace Corps in Tunisia: January 28, 2003 - Haverford University: Michael A. Sells taught in Southern Tunisia with the Peace Corps at: (1) Medenine (2) Foum Tatahouine and (3) Jerba

By Admin1 (admin) on Tuesday, January 28, 2003 - 2:05 pm: Edit Post

Michael A. Sells taught in Southern Tunisia with the Peace Corps at: (1) Medenine (2) Foum Tatahouine and (3) Jerba

Michael A. Sells taught in Southern Tunisia with the Peace Corps at: (1) Medenine (2) Foum Tatahouine and (3) Jerba

Michael A. Sells

short bio (for introductions), biography and personal photo 1; email: msells@haverford.edu
curriculum vitae, part 1 and part 2.

Informal Academic History

Michael Sells is Emily Judson Baugh and John Marshall Gest Professor of Comparative Religions at Haverford College where he has taught since 1984. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford University 1982-84. M.A. and Ph.D. University of Chicago 1978, 1982; B.A. Gonzaga University 1971. From 1972-1975 he lived and taught in Southern Tunisia with the Peace Corps at: (1) Medenine (2) Foum Tatahouine and (3) Jerba. Other personal photos: 2, 3.

1) Qur'an and Islamic Studies 2) Islam and the West 3) Classical Arabic Poetry 4) Sufi Literature 5) Comparative Mystical Literatures (Greek, Christian, Jewish, Islamic) 6) Religions and Violence 7) Bosnia and Kosovo. Recent awards: 1997-1998 Guggenheim (Classical Arabic Poetry) and a 2000 Fulbright (Heritage of Ibn `Arabi in Morocco, Tunisia, and Syria). Listed below are books only (full publications are in the CV above). Click title for tables of contents and reviews. Also, forthcoming are Emran Qureshi and Michael Sells, eds., The New Crusades?: Constructing the Muslim Enemy (Columbia University Press) which work examines the tension between Islam and the West as well as the "clash of civilizations" thesis, and a work in progress on Islam, The West, and violent fundamentalism.

Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations. Ashland: White Cloud Press 1999). ISBN 1-883991-30-7 (hardcover, $33.95), 1-883991-26-9 (paper, $21.95). Orders: ph/fax 800-380-8276. A general introduction to the Qur'an and its role in Islamic culture; new translations of the early Meccan Suras with facing commentaries; two essays on sound, gender, and meaning in the Qur'an; sound diagrams of the call the prayer and six suras; and a CD with Qur'anic reciters from around the world reciting the adhan and six suras in various styles. The goal is to make the early Meccan period of the Qur'an, in its literary and oral qualities, approachable and accessible to those not conversant in Arabic. AVAILABILITY: Because of the high demand, the book is sometimes out of stock; the most immediate way (and at times the only way) of obtaining the book is directly through the publisher. As of 9/12/02, the hardcover is available for immediate shipment from from White Cloud Press. The paperback was scheduled to arrive at White Cloud on September 13.

Mystical Languages of Unsaying. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994. ISBN 0-226-74786-7 (cloth); 0-226-74787-5 (paper) . Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994. A philosophical and literary study of Greek, Christian, and Islamic apophatic mystical language, with special attention to Plotinus, Eriugena, Ibn `Arabi, Eckhart, and Marguerite Porete. With original translations from the Greek, Arabic, Latin, medieval French, and medieval German. The book received a 1995 American Academy of Religion Award for New Book in the History of Religions (honorable mention).

The Cambridge History of Arabic Literature, al-Andalus, co-edited with Maria Rosa Menocal and Ray Scheindlin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-521-47159-1 507 pages, 10 illustrations This volume also includes two of my own contributions: an essay on Love in the Andalusian poetic tradition and a complete new translation of Ibn Zaydun's love poem, the Nuniyya.

Stations of Desire: Love Elegies of Ibn `Arabi and New Poems. Jerusalem: Ibis Press, 2000. This volume includes an introduction to Ibn `Arabi's Translator of Desires (Turjuman al-Ashwaq) and new translations of 23 of the poems, along with a collection of my own poetry. Ordering information: The book can be ordered from Small Press Distribution (SPD), 1341 Seventh Street, Berkeley, CA 94710. Tel: 510-524-1668, Fax: 510-524-0852, email: spd@spdbooks.org. Event: Michael Sells, reading from Stations of Desire, at The Kitchen in NYC, co-sponsored by the Poetry Society of America. Tue, 24 September 2002, 7PM,512 W. 19th St, with Palestinian poety Taha Muhammad Ali and Richard Sieburth reading his translations of Jewish mystic Gerschom Scholem.

The Bridge Betrayed: Religion and Genocide in Bosnia. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996. ISBN 0-520-20690-8 (Cloth) $19.95. New Paperback Edition with a Preface on Kosovo, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), ISBN 0-520-21662-8, $14.95. Orders: 609-883-1759. Examines religious motivation and justification for the genocide, with emphasis upon the militarized mythology of Kosovo that portrays Bosnian Muslims as race-traitors and responsible for the death of the Christ-prince Lazar. Awarded the 1997 American Academy Religion Award for Excellence in Historical Studies. Bosnian Language Edition: Iznevjereni most (translated by Zoran Mutic) (Sarajevo: Sedam, 2002). For extensive documentation see The Bridge Betrayed War Crimes Reports Page.

Early Islamic Mysticism. Paulist Press: Classics of Western Spirituality Series, 1996. ISBN 0-8091-0477-6 (cloth); 0-8091-3619-8 (paper). Introductions and Translations of the Qur'an, the Mi`raj Accounts , Arabic Poetry, Tustari, Ja`far as-Sadiq, Muhasibi, Junayd, Hallaj, Rabi`a, Bistami, Sarraj, Qushayri, and Niffari, with a general Introduction to early Islamic spirituality. (Order Information: 1-201-825-7300; fax orders: 1-800-836-3161).

Desert Tracings: Six Classic Arabian Odes. Middletown, Ct.: Wesleyan University Press, 1989. ISBN: 0-8195-1158-7 (paper). Middletown, Ct: Wesleyan University Press, 1989. Second Printing, 1996. Original Translations, and Critical Commentary on early Arabic odes by `Alqama, Shanfara, Labid, `Antara, Al-A`sha and Dhu al-Rumma, with a General Introduction to Classical Arabic Poetry. The translations of the odes by Shanfara and Dhu al-Rumma have been anthologized in the Harper-Collins World Reader 1:937-43; and 1:958-65. The translation of the Mu`allaqa of Labid has been accepted for the Norton Anthology of World Poetry.
For Further Information, see my personal Research Page.
Teaching (selected courses)

Spring 2002
Rel /Coml 251 Comparative Mystical Literature: Christian, Islamic, Jewish (Listed as Religion and Comparative Literature)
Rel 303 Seminar in Religion and Literature

Fall 2002
Rel 305 Seminar in Religion, Ethics, and Society. Special Focus: Religion and Violence.

Spring 2002
Rel 101 Introduction to the Study of Religions: Hinduism, Islam, Igbo, Ojibway
Rel 353 Seminar in Islamic Philosophy and Theology. Topic: The Thought and Writings of Ibn `Arabi

Fall 2001
R/CL 251 Comparative Mystical Literature: Christian, Islamic, Jewish
R/CL 262 Islamic Literature and Civilization

For the spring semester 2000, Michael Sells lived with his family in Morocco, Tunisia, and Syria where he explored the classical and contemporary heritage of Ibn `Arabi, with the support of a Fulbright Fellowship. Recent Courses include:

R/CL 263

Middle East Love Lyric

S 2001


Islam and the West: Bosnia, Afghanistan, and The Theory of the Clash of Civilizations

S 2001

R 101

Introduction to the Study of Religion (Hindu, Islamic, Ojibway, and Igbo Traditions)

F 2000

R 353

Seminar in Islamic Philosophy and Theology (Topic: The Thought of Ibn `Arabi)

F 2000

R 398

Approaches and Methods in the Study of Religions


R/CL 251

Comparative Mystical Literature: Jewish, Christian, and Islamic


R/CL 262

Islamic Literature and Civilization

S 1999

R 355

Sem. in Comp Religions. Myths of Ascent through the Heavens in Judaism, Christianity and Islam

S 1999

R 110

Sacred Texts and Religious Traditions: Hinduism and Islam

S 1998

R 264

Islam and the West: Bosnia, Afghanistan, and The Sudan

S 1998
Social Justice

In 1993, along with Professor Laurie Hart and my wife, Janet Marcus, I helped found the Community of Bosnia Foundation. The Foundation seeks to summon the powers of humanity against all forms of racism and genocide. Specifically we work to support a multireligious Bosnia-Herzegovina, through support for Bosnian students, the reconstruction of Bosnian culture and art, the publication of testimony by survivors of genocide, and the work of the International Tribunals on War Crimes on the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and reform of Bosnian economic and political institutions to help our students return in an empowered role. Haverford students, faculty, and staff have played a central role in the success of these activities. Michael Sells Community of Bosnia Page. See also the official Community of Bosnia Home Page (under construction). See also the Religion 264 Sudan Human Rights Page.

For two major resources on Islam, see:

* The Alan Godlas University of Georgia Islamic Studies Site
* The Barbara von Schlegell University of Pennsylvania Islamic Studies Site

On the UNC_Qur'an Controversy:

* Statements and Articles of Michael Sells on the UNC-Qur'an Controversy, along with bibliography and "mediography" tracing the controversy through the summer of 2002.

Disclaimer: All opinions on the Michael Sells personal pages are those of Michael Sells only and do not reflect the positions of Haverford College or the Department of Religion.

Michael A. Sells
Department of Religion
Haverford College
370 Lancaster Avenue
Haverford, PA 19041
Phone: 610-896-1027

* Return to Dept. of Religion
* Return to Haverford College Main Page
* This page is maintained by msells@haverford.edu, Last updated 12/04/02

By christinerossi grealish ( on Thursday, April 09, 2009 - 2:07 am: Edit Post

Wondering if you taught English on the island of Djerba? When I volunteered there 84-87 as a special education teacher, folks would mention the last American here on the island was an American man who taught English and played frisbee....that often, even today brings a smile.

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