Tom Abi Samra works on Arabic literature, with a focus on the postclassical period (c. 14th–19th centuries AD). Although the inḥiṭāṭ (decline) paradigm with regard to this period has been largely debunked, its literary output is still sorely understudied. Tom’s research seeks to paint a clearer picture of its literary production and aesthetics, with a focus on early Ottoman materials. To do so, he draws on a variety of genres, from poetry and maqāmāt to travelogues and topographies. This requires a rethinking of what qualifies as literary material, in addition to a reconsideration of our reading apparatus in order to engage these texts otherwise, many of which were studied only for the historical data they contain. He is also interested in classical Arabic literary theory, Islamic encyclopedism, global early modern studies, modern Arabic literature, and critical theory. He works in Arabic, English, French, German, and, soon, Ottoman Turkish.
Tom holds an AM in Comparative Literature from Dartmouth, where he wrote about ʿAbd al-Ghanī al-Nābulusī’s (d. 1143/1731) poetry and travelogues, and a BA in Literature from New York University Abu Dhabi, where he wrote about Yūsuf al-Shirbīnī’s (fl. 1097/1686) Hazz al-quḥūf.