Sadia Abbas

Sadia Abbas


sadiaab [at]



Office Location

360 Dr. Martin L. King Blvd.
Hill Hall 514
Newark, New Jersey 07102

Associate Professor, Department of English

Affiliate, Women's and Gender Studies Program

Adjunct Professor, Stavros Niarchos Hellenic Studies Center, Simon Fraser University

Degrees and Previous Teaching:

B.A Wellesley College, 1992

Ph.D, Brown University, 2002

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Williams College

Recent Awards:

President's Merit Award, 2016.

Co-winner MLA First Book Prize for 2014 for At Freedom's Limit, 2015

Board of Trustees Research Fellowship for Scholarly Excellence, 2014

Dembo Prize for Best Essay published in Contemporary Literature, 2011

Students' Choice Award, 2016.

MSA: Professor of the Year Award, 2016.

Specializations: Postcolonial literature and theory, the culture and politics of Islam in modernity, early modern English literature—especially the literature of religious strife—and the history of twentieth-century criticism.  

Research interests: ranging from film, Hellenism, historicism, European perceptions of Europe’s own history and identity, networks of cultural circulation in the Mediterranean, religion, theology and theory, the history of European Christianity, religious fundamentalisms, neoliberalism, the rise of the global right, contemporary British fiction, gender and religion, early Netherlandish and Renaissance painting, contemporary Pakistani art, to the transformation of Pakistani popular music in the past fifty years.


At Freedom’s Limit: Islam and the Postcolonial Predicament, published by Fordham University Press, 2014.

The Empty Room, a novel set in Karachi a couple of decades ago, forthcoming Dec. 2017, Zubaan Press, India. 

Books in progress:

A book on Hellenism and Postcolonialism, tentatively titled Space in Another Time.

A second novel. 

Published academic essays on the Catholic martyrological poetics of Robert Southwell, the fiction of the Muslim diaspora, Jewish converts to Islam and migrants to Pakistan, the uses of Reformation in contemporary Muslim thought, and treatments of subjectivity in contemporary theorizations of Muslim female agency.  Forthcoming essays on the ideas of Greece and of Europe in the work of Quratulain Hyder and Stratis Myrivilis, and art and society in Pakistan. 

Current projects:

Lecture Series:

Conceived and coordinate the Beyond Islamophobia and Postcolonial Questions and Perfomances lecture series.






Courses Taught

Undergraduate courses I have taught at Rutgers include “Transnational Muslim Fiction,”  “Religion and Literature,”  “Literature and Decolonization,” and “Techniques of Poetry.  I have taught graduate course such as “Introduction to Postcolonial Theory and Literature,” and “Religion, Literature and Theory” and “Spy Novels and Empire.”


B.A. Wellesley College

Ph.D. Brown University           


The Echo-Chamber of Freedom: The Muslim Woman and the Pretext of Agency.” Forthcoming, boundary 2.

“Religion in the Age of Identity: The Challenge of the Novel,” Contemporary Literature, November, 2011.

 “Itineraries of Conversion: Judaic Paths to a Muslim Pakistan” Crisis and Beyond: Re-Evaluating Pakistan, ed. Naveeda Khan, London: Routledge, 2009.

“Other People’s History: Contemporary Islam and Figures of Early Modern European Dissent,” Early Modern Culture, 2007.

 “Polemic and Paradox in Robert Southwell’s Lyric Poetry,” Criticism, Fall 2003.

 •Other publications:

“The Roots of Pakistan’s Political Crisis: A Kleptocratic Military and Corrupt Political Elites,” Counterpunch,, Nov. 12, 2007.

 Some Recent Talks:

“On the Question of Metropolitan Solidarity,” University of Pittsburgh,  April 2012.

 “Antinomian Revival in the Muslim Novel,” invited talk, Haverford College, April 2011.

 “Islamism and the Pakistani Praetorian State,” panel with Christian Parenti and Biju Matthew at Leftforum, NYC, March 2011.

 “The Echo-Chamber of Freedom: The Muslim Woman and the Pretext of Agency,” invited talk, Center for Muslim Societies, Simon Fraser University, March 2011.

 “The Idea of the West in Orhan Pamuk’s Snow,” Conference on Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean, Hellenic Studies Progam, Simon Fraser University, March 2011.

 “The Echo-Chamber of Freedom: The Muslim Woman and the Pretext of Agency,” Dept of Comparative Literature, UCLA, Jan. 2010.

 “Thinking About Elsewhere,” Conference on Park 51, Rutgers-Newark, Nov. 2010.

 “The Echo-Chamber of Freedom: The Muslim Woman and the Pretext of Agency,” Queer Cosmopolitanism panel at the ACLA, April 2010.

 “A Few Cautions about the Turn to Religion,” Women and Religion Conference, Rutgers-Newark, March 2010.

 Member of panel introducing “Re-Evaluating Pakistan” at Leftforum, Mar 2010.

 Interviewed as a South Asianist in BHUTTO, a documentary, released 2010.

 “The World is All We Have,” Response to Stathis Gourgouris at Columbia University Faculty Literary Theory Seminar, Feb. 2009.

 “Religion in the Age of Identity: The Challenge of the Novel,” English Department, Williams College, Fall 2007.

 “Bracketing Justice: Religion in the Age of Identity,” invited talk, Department of Comparative Literature, SUNY Buffalo, January 2007.

 “Religion and the Task of Postcolonial Studies—Analysis or Critique,” Plenary session, Religion and Postcolonial Criticism Conference, Princeton University, March 2006.

 “Theodicy, the Ethics of Unbelief and Criticism,” Religion and Postcolonial Criticism Conference, Princeton University, March 2006.