I am a scholar in the areas of literary criticism, theory and philosophy. A Professor of English at Rutgers University, I am the author of nine books, including three histories of literary criticism, a study of T.S. Eliot’s philosophical background, and two translations of Urdu poetry. My own volume of poetry, Shades of Islam: Poems for a New Century, appeared in September 2010. My latest book, Literary Criticism: From Plato to the Present: An Introduction, was published in 2011. I am also the editor of The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism: Vol. VI: the Nineteenth Century (2013), which contains thirty-two chapters written by some of the most distinguished scholars in the field. Additionally, I newly edited the fifth edition of the Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory (forthcoming, 2014), originally compiled by J.A. Cuddon.
I am currently writing a book entitled Hegel and the Foundations of Modern Literary Theory. I recently gave a talk on this subject at Harvard University (April 24) and I taught it as a course at Rutgers University; in both cases, I benefited greatly from the responses and suggestions of students. In fact, some of my students’ splendid work is posted on this web site.
My interests also extend to Islamic philosophy and literature, as well as Post-Colonial studies and World literature. I have been contracted by W.W. Norton to translate the Qur’an into English verse, in collaboration with the distinguished Islamic scholar Bruce Lawrence. I believe that it is a matter of some urgency to foster an improved mutual understanding between the Islamic world and Western cultures. I have given numerous talks on various aspects of Islam, such as Islam and Democracy, and I am currently working with colleagues at Rutgers University to establish a cultural diversity of courses, including Islamic literature in English translation.
I also believe that, in an era where existing democracies are under various kinds of threat, and where democracies in various parts of the world are struggling to be born, it is important that we promote and disseminate the skills of critical reading and writing in order to foster an informed and responsible participation in the democratic process. I don’t regard learning as merely an intellectual experience but a moral, emotional and political process, whose deepest roots and profoundest inspiration lie in humility, humanity and compassion.
On this site are included a number of my talks, details of my publications, my teaching philosophy and interests, a sample of my poetry, as well as accounts and photographs of my extensive travels, in particular my year as a Fulbright Scholar in Malaysia. There are a number of resources here which students are welcome to use, provided that appropriate documentation is used, remembering that all of the material on this site has been authored by me and that most of it is already published in various forms.