Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Jillian Heydt-Stevenson

Second Advisor

Lydie Moudileno

Third Advisor

Warren Motte


This thesis explores questions surrounding the necessity of travel in pursuit of knowledge, cultural negotiation as a continuous and interactive process, as well as the strong bond with one’s own culture that is indispensible to a successful negotiation. I analyze the 1834 travelogue An Imam in Paris in terms of the extent to which its traveler-author al-Ṭahṭa̅wī can interact with French culture in an improvisational way while remaining connected to his home culture. Al-Ṭahṭa̅wī figures as the site and agent of a negotiation with French knowledge with the aim to incorporate it into Cairo’s identity as a world power reborn. He surmounts the limiting perspectives of either French modernity or Egyptian traditionalist superiority, offering instead a vision of a blended future. I conclude this travelogue has strikingly contemporary implications as it helps refute current social and political discussions asserting the incompatibility of Middle Eastern and Western cultures.