English Department Hosts Dr. Ahmed Masoud To Talk About “Art in the age of conflict"

30 - Mar - 2021
On Monday, 29 March 2021, the English Department at the Islamic University of Gaza hosted Dr. Ahmed Masoud, a Palestinian writer, gave a lecture entitled “Art in the Age of Conflict – How War Shapes Art” to the English language students. Dr. Hassan El-Nabih, the head of the English department, and Dr. Refaat Alareer, the deputy head of the department, started the session by welcoming the students and the guest.
Dr. Ahmed, who is a published writer, commenced the session talking about writing in the time of crisis. And how crisis over history influenced writing and literature such as the Spanish flew, the plague, and nowadays COVID-19. However, Masoud mentioned that even though such crises led to the death of millions of people, it was barely mentioned in literature. The reason for that, he argues, is the sudden strike of such crises, which go away and then people move on.
Furthermore, he mentioned the idea of literature being a mirror of society, reflecting what happens in various forms and genres of literature. As an example, he presented the idea of the Romantics who happened to live amid the industrial revolution. That made them produced radical pieces of writing that not only did it change their lives and conceptions but changed ours, nowadays. Another instance Masoud mentioned was the Victorian literature and in particular Charles Dickens’s masterpiece, Oliver Twist. In that novel, social classes were clearly demonstrated and how some of the characters moved from one class to another all over the novel.
In addition, Dr. Ahmed tackled the idea of capitalism in the context of writing. Having stated that, he believes that Netflix, for example, has done a great deal of damage to literature, which placed a strong emphasis on profit rather than passion in writing.
Displaying his presentation, he presented some of his written work and read his biography. Also, he showcased a picture of a Gazan statue in the city centre of Gaza, asking the student what does it present? It turned out that it is the phoenix, which is reborn from the ashes. This symbolizes a glimpse of hope; it is pessimistic at the same time, he thinks, as the city keeps enduring crises and facing ups and downs. He, then, explored the idea of how powerful writing can be as a tool. Although he is against the idea of writing about crimes and difficulties, he wrote a novel himself about the hardship of Gaza. His argument is that this is our identity, which has to be cited in writing. After that, he presented pictures of theatres in the UK, theming some scenes of destructions in the Gaza strip.
Concluding the session, he delved into the definition of creative writing. Also, he mentioned why students and writers in general fear creative writing. Having said that, he briefly narrated his experience when he started. Next, he tackled the concept of activism, featuring the importance of the term in writing. Then, he gave the students a quick writing exercise to write about an experience they endured. Finally, he opened the floor for questions and inquiries.