Nada Saab

Associate Professor of Arabic Studies

Dr. Nada Saab is an associate professor of Arabic studies in the Department of Communication, Arts and Languages, and an affiliate of the Comparative Literature Program. 

Her interest in Arabic literature seeks to find intersections between the medieval Arabic adab (belles-lettres) tradition and modern Arabic literature, while recognizing that the latter has consciously sought to form a complex nexus of relations with its own heritage and with world literature more generally. She sees texts not as isolated texts but as multi-faceted products of the literary tradition and specific cultural moments that produced them. Fascinated by the inner working of texts and their aesthetic nature, she traces the multiplicity of layers and meanings that lie within them, whether historical, philosophical or intertextual. Her view to literature contributes to a rising trend among scholars of Arabic Studies and comparatists who are exploring the contours of Arabic literature in its varied traditions and who are tracing new links with world literature.

Research Interests

Her domain of research focuses on modern Arabic drama. She has published extensively on modern Arab theater focusing mostly on political theater from the Levant. Her work includes translations to English of plays authored by Sa‘d Allah Wannus, ‘Isam Mahfuz, Jawad al-Asadi, Muhammad al-Maghut and others. Many of her translated plays have premiered on stages in Beirut, Chicago, Off Broadway in New York and in theater festivals around the globe

Her research also focuses on medieval Sufi literature and theory. She has produced critical editions of medieval Sufi manuscripts including Sufism, Black and White: A Critical Edition of Kitāb al-Bayāḍ wa-l-Sawād by Abū l-Ḥasan al-Sīrjānī (d. ca.470/1077), published by Brill. She is currently producing a critical edition of epistles by the famed ninth century Sufi master Abu Sa’id l-Kharraz. Her studies also include embodiments of Sufi heritage in modern Arabic literature.

SDGs Research Mapping

Dr. Nada Saab conducts research relevant to the following SDGs:

Selected Publications


  1. Robert Myers and Nada SaabSentence to Hope: The Sa’dallah Wannous Reader, Yale University Press, 2019.
  2. Nada Saab and Robert Myers: Modern and Contemporary Political Theater from the Levant, a Critical Anthology, Brill, Leiden, 2019.
  3. Ed. Bilal Orfali and Nada Saab: Sufism, Black and White: A Critical Edition of Kitāb al-Bayāḍ wa-l-Sawād by Abū l-Ḥasan al-Sīrjānī (d. ca. 470/1077), Brill, Leiden, 2012, 570 pp. Reprinted in Arabic translation in 2019 as:
  4. كتاب البياض والسواد من خصائص حكم العباد في نعت المريد والمراد لابي الحسن السيرجاني تحقيق ودراسة بلال الارفه لي وندى صعب، ترجمة لينا جمال منشورات القدس للنشر والتوزيع، القاهرة، ٢٠١٩.

Chapters in Books:

  1. Forthcoming: Robert Myers and Nada Saab: “Sa‘dallah Wannous and Bertolt Brecht: The Playwright as Political Activist” in On Wannous: Critical Studies on the Syrian Playwright and Public Intellectual, ed. Sonja Mejcher-Atassi and Robert Myers, under consideration by Cambridge University Press.
  2. Risāla fī al-Ṣifāt wa-ʿIlm al-Tawḥīd; A Sufī Treatise Attributed to Abū Saʿīd Aḥmad b. ʿĪsā al-Kharrāz (d. 286/899) in Light upon Light: A Festschrift Presented to Gerhard Bowering by His Students, ed. by Jamal J. Elias and Bilal W. Orfali. Brill, Leiden, 2019, pp. 139-163.
  3. “Sufi Negotiation of the Qur’anic Text and its Prophetic Stories in the Literature of Abū Saʿīd al-Kharrāz” (d. 286/899), in The Qur’an and Adab: The Shaping of Literary Traditions in Classical Islam. Ed. Nuha Shaar, Oxford University Press, 2016, pp. 475-493.
  4. “The Many Faces of Religion in Sa’dallah Wannous’s Tuqus al-Isharat wa-l-Tahawwulat” in Four Plays from Syria:  Sa’dallah Wannous, Ed. Marvin Carlson and Safi Mahfouz. New York: Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Publications, The Graduate Center, CUNY, 2014, pp. 249-266.
  5. Tr. Nada Saab and Robert Myers: Rituals of Signs and Transformations, by Saʿd Allah Wannūs  in Theater of Sa’dallah Wannus. Ed. Marvin Carlson.  New York: Martin E. Segal Theater Center, CUNY Graduate Center, 2104, pp. 267-393.

Articles in Refereed Journals:

  1. Nada Saab and Robert Myers: “Revolutionary Theatre of the Absurd from the Arab World; Issam Mahfouz’s The Dictator in PAJ Journal for Performance Arts, MIT University Press, Volume 37, January 2015, pp. 94-96.
  2. Tr. Robert Myers and Nada Saab: “The Dictator by Issam Mahfouz” in PAJ Journal for Performance Arts, MIT University Press, Volume 37, January 2015, pp. 97-125.
  3. Robert Myers and Nada Saab: “Sufism and Shakespeare: The Poetics of Personal and Political Transformation in Sa’d Allah Wannus’s Tuqus al-Isharat wa-l-Tahawwulat” in Theater Research International, Cambridge University Press, Volume 38 – Special Issue 02, July 2013, pp. 124-136.
  4. Tr. Nada Saab and Robert Myers: “Baghdadi Bath by Jawad al-Asadi,” in PAJ Journal for Performance Arts, MIT University Press, Volume 30, No. 2, May 2008, pp. 112-123. 

Play Performances:

  1. Forthcoming: Anthony Shadid: 1000 Strange Places by Robert Myers, translation and dramaturgy by Nada Saab. The play is selected for performance by Yale Repertory Theatre, Yale University, and invited to perform at the Middle East Institute in Washington DC.
  2. Al-Malik Lear, “King Lear” by Shakespeare translated to Lebanese Arabic by Nada Saab, Sahar Assaf and Raffi Feghali, full production in Masrah al-Madina, Beirut, Lebanon, December 2016.          
  3. The Dictator by Issam Mahfouz, translated by Nada Saab and Robert Myers, selected by “Between the Seas” Festival of Mediterranean Performing Arts, full production, New York, USA, September, 2015.
  4. The Rape by Sa‘d Allah Wannous, translated by Robert Myers and Nada Saab, full production, Irwin Theatre, Lebanese American University, Lebanon, March 2015.
  5. Rituals of Signs and Transformations by Sa‘d Allah Wannus, translated by Robert Myers and Nada Saab: Staged reading, AUB; December 2013, full production, Babel Theater, Beirut, December 2013; staged reading, Segal Theater Center at CUNY Graduate Center in New York, March 2014; staged reading, Silk Road Rising Theater, Chicago, March 2014.

Academic degrees

  • PhD, Religious Studies Department, Yale University, USA
  • MPhil in Near Eastern Languages, Yale University, USA
  • BA in Arabic, American University of Beirut, Lebanon