Show The Graduate Center Menu

Ali Jimale Ahmed
Campus Affiliation: Queens College
Phone: (718)997-5690
Research Interests: African Literature, Islamic Literature, Poetry and Oral Tradition

Ali Jimale Ahmed is Chair and Professor of Comparative Literature at Queens College and the CUNY Graduate Center. Creative teaching is, for Ahmed, one of the cornerstones of academic learning. It incorporates Socratic methods of questioning, while at the same time emphasizing the importance of education as a two-way traffic. Through college education, students endeavor to form their own "internally persuasive discourse" (Bakhtin). As teachers, it is our responsibility to avail our students of a whole, diverse gamut of ideas which will contribute to the formation of their own discourses. To achieve this aim, Ahmed's students are constantly asked to read disciplines and texts in relation to and against one another. Reading in this context underlines the need to see the interconnectedness of our world, while at the same time not glossing over the vast differences that exist. In relation to this, Ahmed is a firm believer in the de-compartamentalization of disciplines, for no discipline is by itself capable of capturing the inner pulse of a nation. The suggestion implied here is best described by the African parable of the elephant and the three blind men.

Neither the tusk, nor the rough skin, nor the soft ears of an elephant would individually give a holistic picture of what an elephant really is.

Research interests include the novel genre in the third world: Islamic literature; Literature and Politics; Fiction Across Cultures; Immigrant Literature; Greed in Literature and Film; Madness and Literature; the Poetics and noetics of orature.


Ahmed's poetry and short stories have been translated into several languages. His most recent book is Fear is a Cow (Red Sea Press 2002).

Ahmed also teaches for both the World Studies Program and the Department of Classical, Middle Eastern & Asian Languages & Cultures.

Grants and Awards

  • Co-Director (with I.L. Markovitz) of NEH Summer Seminars for Teachers Presidential Mini-Grant Award for Innovative Teaching Project. 
  • 1994 winner of the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching.