Mejdulene B. Shomali is a Palestinian American poet and Assistant Professor in the Department of Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies at University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). She received a PhD in American Culture from the University of Michigan in 2015 and an MA in Women’s Studies from the Ohio State University in 2009. Her creative and scholarly work centers on femininity, queerness, and Arab cultural production in a transnational perspective.
Her academic monograph in progress, Moving Femininities: Queer Critique and Transnational Arab Culture, underscores femininity and sexuality as sites for cultural and political negotiation for Arabs, immigrant and indigenous. It demonstrates how feminine and sexual norms can be used to police non-normative subjects. Yet, rather than repeat an analysis wherein femininity is only the source of subjugation, or only liberated through androgyny and masculinity, Moving Femininities imagines femininity as a subversive, dynamic site for subject formation and progressive world-making.
Prof. Shomali has published two peer reviewed essays on gender and sexuality in transnational Arab culture: “Scheherazade and the Limits of Inclusive Politics in Arab American Literature” and “Political Social Movements: Homosexuality and Queer Movements.” A third, “Dancing Queens: Queer Desire in Golden Era Egyptian Cinema” is forthcoming in the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies. A book chapter on transnational movements in contemporary Arab American poetry is anthologized in The Immigrant Experience (2018). A fifth piece, “The Pulse of Queer Life: Arab Bodies in Gay Bars” is under review.
Prof. Shomali has two poetry chapbooks under consideration: coming of age in arabish and prayers for my father’s dementia. coming of age in arabish was also a finalist for the Honeysuckle Press 2018 Chapbook Competition. Her individual poems and creative pieces can be read or are forthcoming in Copper Nickel, The Shade Journal, Tinderbox, Diode Press, The Pinch Journal, and Mizna, among others. For links to creative publications, click here.
At UMBC, Prof. Shomali teaches multiple interdisciplinary courses including: Intro to Women’s and Gender Studies; Intro to Critical Sexuality Studies; Race, Gender and Media; Theories of Feminism; and a course of her design titled Trans/National Femininities. Prof. Shomali also teaches a second original course at UMBC titled “Arab and Muslim Experiences in the US.” It is the first course offered at UMBC that looks at Arab and Muslim life in the US. She has also developed university wide programming around Arab and Muslim identity. In Spring 2017, Prof. Shomali was awarded the Outstanding Faculty Ally Award at the Lavender Celebration, UMBC’s yearly event honoring LGBTQIA students, faculty, and staff.
Headline photo: El Seed mural at Wynwood walls, Miami, FL, March 2017. Photo by MBS.