Benjamin Smith earned his PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University with a focus on Modern Arabic Literature. He received a MA from the Center of Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University and his BA from the University of Virginia.
Smith is currently working on developing his dissertation project, entitled Writing Amrika: Literary Encounters with America in Arabic Literature, into a book. This project surveys the literary history of the American encounter in Arabic fiction over the course of the 20th century, with special focus on contemporary Arabic novels that are set in America, as a means of understanding the nuances of this fraught relationship and the identity politics foregrounded theirin. Smith is also working on a project that analyzes the intersections of literature and transnational labor migrations in the Middle East, especially in Gulf Literature. In addition to teaching Arabic language courses at Swarthmore, he teaches seminars on Arabic literature in translation, including Literature of Resistance, which seeks to understand the role of literature as resistance, critique and dissent in various national contexts leading up to, and following, the recent Arab Uprisings.
Smith is interested in Arabic language pedagogy, translation studies, and Arabic dialectology. He has spent time studying and working in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Lebanon.