Louisiana State University
Ruth Meltzer Fellowship

Research Topic

Ethnic Comedy in Yemeni Literature


Mark Wagner is an associate professor of Arabic at Louisiana State University. His areas of interest include classical Arabic literature, Arabic vernacular literature, Islamic law, and Muslim-Jewish relations. His current research project focuses on a humoristic tradition of poetry from Yemen in which ethnic jokes, often at the expense of Jews, play an important role.

Wagner received his PhD in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies from New York University. His most recent book, Jews and Islamic law in Early 20th-Century Yemen, was a National Jewish Book Award finalist in the Sephardic Culture category.

Selected publications

  • Jews and Islamic Law in Early 20th-Century Yemen (Indiana University Press, 2015)
  • Like Joseph in Beauty: Yemeni Vernacular Poetry and Arab-Jewish Symbiosis (Brill Studies in Middle Eastern Literatures, 2009)



Delving into the meaning of modernity beyond the European, American, and Israeli contexts, looking instead to North Africa, the Levant, the Arabian Peninsula, and Central and South Asia.