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Mark Firmani

Mark Firmani



I am a doctoral candidate in the English Department at the University of Pennsylvania and a JD student (expected 2022) at Yale Law School. In my dissertation, "Relations of War in Post-2003 Iraqi and U.S. Culture," I examine a variety of different media--novels, short fiction, film, journalism, and academic writing in Arabic and English--to explore how we might understand the post-2003 conflict in Iraq according to a relational framework across genres as well as between cultures. Rather than thinking of this project as comparing and contrasting U.S. and Iraqi perspectives on the same war, however, I posit that these perspectives are simultaneously more proximate and more distant than the idea of comparison implies. By examining the representations of groups of people who are meeting primarily to kill, to dominate, and to stage resistance under vastly asymmetrical conditions, I track the intimate and terrifying forms of relationality during war that involve bodies and communities as well as ideologies and technologies. From this position the complicated and multifaceted categories of "U.S. American" and "Iraqi" themselves become exponentially more nuanced in relation to one another, illuminating the dynamic interconnections and dissonances manifest in the different perspectives of Iraqi and U.S. American writers, filmmakers, producers, journalists, and public intellectuals.

Other interests include portrayals of artificial intelligence in film, literature, & law; the relationship between law & culture; the Gothic, the Western, horror, & speculative fiction; and decolonial & Marxist theory. 


Published writing:

"Review: Baghdad Noir," Middle Eastern Literatures (forthcoming in 2019).

"At War with Monsters in Postwar Iraqi Literature,Los Angeles Review of Books, February 24, 2018.


Courses Taught

fall 2018