Nathaniel Greenberg

Nathaniel Greenberg

Nathaniel Greenberg

Associate Professor

MENA studies; comparative literature; discourse analysis; film&media

A comparatist by training, I work on the intersection of language, technology, literature, and film to understand how sociopolitical transformation shapes aesthetics and how aesthetics inform change. My books include The Aesthetic of Revolution in the Film and Literature of Naguib Mahfouz (1952-1967) (Lexington 2014), Islamists of the Maghreb (co/author, Routledge 2018), and How Information Warfare Shaped the Arab Spring: The Politics of Narrative in Tunisia and Egypt (Edinburgh 2019), which extended from my reporting on the opening weeks of protest in Cairo, in 2011, for The Seattle Times. Previous work has examined satire in the war on terror, existentialism, and speculative fiction in the Arabic tradition. From 2015-2020, I served as book review editor for The Journal of Arabic Literature and from 2018-2020, I was Chair of the Translation and Publication Committee for the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. Prior to joining Mason, I worked as an Assistant Professor of World Literature at Northern Michigan University, and in 2012/13 I was a Postdoctoral Fellow in North African studies with the Center for Strategic Communication at Arizona State University. In 2015, I helped launch GMU’s first major concentration in Arabic. I teach courses on film, literature, translation, and open-source media analysis and serve currently as PI and Director for Project GO/Mason, a federally-funded initiative to train select ROTC students in critical language acquisition and intercultural communication skills. I am currently working on two new books and a string of articles examining patterns of disinformation in post-revolutionary North Africa.

Current Research

The Social Media Wars and Political Reconciliation in #Libya, #Sudan

Selected Publications


How Information Warfare Shaped the Arab Spring: The Politics of Narrative in Tunisia and Egypt, Edinburgh University Press. 2019. 

Islamists of the Maghreb (co-author). London, U.K.: Routledge. 2018.

The Aesthetic of Revolution in the Film and Literature of Naguib Mahfouz (1952-1967), Lanham M.D: Lexington Books. 2014. *Winner of ACLA Helen Tartar Award 2014

Selected Essays

“Narrative Warfare in the New Middle East: The Libyan Dialect.” Journal of Middle East Politics and Policy. Harvard Kennedy School. 2022. Read here.

"American Spring: How Russian State Media Translate American Protests for an Arab Audience." The International Journal of Communication. 2021. Read: here

"Islamic State War Documentaries." The International Journal of Communication. 2020. Read: here

"Egypt's Post-2011 Embrace of Russian's Style Disinformation." The Middle East Report (MERIP). 2019. Read: here

"Russia Opens Digital Interference Front in Libya." The Middle East Report Online. 4 Oct 2019. Read: here

"The Gates of Tripoli: Power and Propaganda in Postrevolutionary Libya." The African Yearbook of Rhetoric. 9. 2019. Read: here

"Russian Influence Operations Extend into Egypt." The Conversation. 12 Feb 2019. Read: here.

"Notes on the Arab Boom: Stasis and Dynamism in the Post-revolutionary Arabic Novel." Studies in the Novel. 51.2. 2019. Read: here.

"Deconstructing ISIS: Philippe-Joseph Salazar on the Aesthetics of Terror." Philosophy and Rhetoric. 52.3. 2019.

"Ahmed Khaled Towfik: Days of Rage and Horror in Arabic Science Fiction." Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction. 57.2. 2018. Read: here.

"Mythical State: The Aesthetics and Counter-Aesthetics of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria." The Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication. 10.2-3. 2017. Read: here. *Selected as Top 10 article of the past 10 yrs by MJCC.

"Naguib Mahfouz's Children of the Alley and the Coming Revolution." The Comparatist. 37. 2013.

"Political Modernism, Jabra, and the Baghdad Modern Art Group." CLCWeb- Comparative Literature and Culture. 12.2. 2010. Read here.

"War in Pieces: AMIA and the Triple Frontier in Argentine and American Discourse on Terrorism." A Contracorriente. 8.1. 2010. Read: here.


"The Secret Organization" (1982), by Naguib Mahfouz. Banipal: Magazine of Modern Arab Literature. 58. 2017.




Expanded Publication List

“Imararat Ya‘kubian,” Global Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer History. Ed. Howard Chiang et al. Charles Scribner’s Sons. 2018.

"Ideology as Narrative: The Mythic Discourse of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb." The Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication. 10. Co-written with Jeffry R. Halverson. 2017.

"The Politics of Perception in Post-Revolutionary Egyptian Cinema." Arabic Literature for the Classroom. Ed. Muhsin J. al-Musawi. Routledge. 2017.

“Exit ISIS, Stage Left: Fighting for Laughs in Mosul and Beyond.” Jadaliyya. 16 Apr 2016.

“The Rise and Fall of Abu 'Iyadh: Reported Death Leaves Questions Unanswered.” Jadaliyya, 13 Jul 2015.

“History in the Making: Tunisia’s Revolution.” The Los Angeles Review of Books, 30 May 2014.

“Emergent Public Discourse and the Constitutional Debate in Tunisia: a Critical Narrative Analysis.” TelosScope, 4 Jan 2014.

“African Development Surge Could Play into AQIM Narrative.” COMOPS. 7 Mar 2013.

“The Arab Constitutions 2012: Chaos and Strategy.” COMOPS. 1 Dec 2012.

“Is the Ansar al-Shariah Crackdown a True About Face?” COMOPS. 26 October 2012.

“Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad Ibn Jubayr,” Arabic Literary Culture, Vol.1 (925-1350). Ed. Terri DeYoung. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. 2,500 words. 2012.

“Cairo Divided: Suspicion reigns as violence increases.” The Seattle Times. 3 Feb 2011.

“Chaos Comes to Cairo: Neighbors unite to keep the peace.” The Seattle Times. 31 Jan 2011.

“A Cairo Neighborhood Swept Up in Protest’s Fervor.” The Seattle Times. 29 Jan 2011.

“A People's Protest? The View from a Cairo Coffeehouse.” The Seattle Times, 28 Jan 2011.





Grants and Fellowships

P.I. and Director, Project GO/MASON. 2021-

Faculty Fellow, The Center for Humanities Research, George Mason University, Spring 2021

CLS/US State Department Alumni Development Fund, 2018

Mathy Scholar, George Mason University, 2016

CLS/US State Department Alumni Development Fund, 2016

NEH Summer Scholar, American Muslims: History, Culture, and Politics, 2015

Postdoctoral Fellow, North Africa SME (French/Arabic linguist), the Center for Strategic Communication, ASU, 2012-13



Ph.D. Comparative Literature, University of Washington, 2012

M.A. Comparative Literature, University of Washington, 2009

B.A. Comparative Literature, City University of New York-Hunter College, 2003

Recent Presentations

"The Role of Media in the Libyan Revolution" (2021). 10 Year Anniversary. The National Council on U.S.-Libya Relations.

"Dissent, History and Politics in the Modern Middle East: Tunisia's Cyber-dissidents revisited." (2021). Modern Language Association.

"The Gates of Tripoli: power and propaganda in post-revolutionary Libya" (2020). Middle East Studies Association.

"The Social Media Wars in Libya Revisited" (2019). The National Council on U.S.-Libya Relations. Rayburn House, U.S. Capitol. Washington D.C.

"Information Warfare and the Struggle for Democracy: WikiLeaks and the Arab Spring Revisited" (2019). Media in Transition. M.I.T., Cambridge, MA. 

"The Social Media Wars in Libya" (2018). The National Council on U.S.-Libya Relations. Rayburn House, U.S. Capitol. Washington D.C.





In the Media

The Seattle Times


Al-Ahram Online 

Youm 7 (in Arabic)



Public Radio International (PRI)

The New Books Network (Podcast interview with Marci Mazzarotto on How Information Warfare Shaped the Arab Spring)

Folha de São Paola (in Portuguese)

Le Devoir (in French)