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Dr Islam Issa - University Alliance. Birmingham, England, GB

Dr Islam Issa

Reader in Literature and History | Birmingham City University

Birmingham, England, UNITED KINGDOM

His work has focused primarily on the modern-day reception of Renaissance and Early Modern English literature in global contexts.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Middle East Cultural History




Cultural History


Dr Islam Issa is Reader in Literature and History in the School of English at Birmingham City University. He is an award-winning writer, curator, and broadcaster. As a literary critic and historian, his work has focused primarily on the modern-day reception of Renaissance and Early Modern English literature in global contexts, particularly Shakespeare and Milton, and the cultural history of the Middle East. His book Milton in the Arab-Muslim World received the Milton Society of America’s First Book award. He is co-editor of Milton in Translation, winner of the Milton Society of America’s 2017 Irene Samuel Memorial Award, and of Digital Milton.

Islam has curated a number of exhibitions at prestigious venues. "Stories of Sacrifice" (2016-18) at the British Muslim Heritage Centre won the Times Higher Education Awards 'Research Project of the Year: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences', the Muslim News Awards 'Excellence in Community Relations' prize, and the Manchester Culture Awards 'Highly Commended Exhibition'. His other exhibitions include "Shakespeare in South Asia" at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (2017) and "Ageless Cleopatra" (2018), both at Shakespeare’s Birthplace. Islam has appeared on television and radio well over 100 times on more than 50 different stations worldwide.

Media Mentions (5)

Disability rights campaigner crowned Greater Birmingham Chambers' Future Face of 2020

Business Live  online


Some of the winners at the 2020 Future Faces Awards (from top left): Kasim Choudhry, Thinkfest; Casey Bailey, Baileys Rap and Poetry; James Farmer, Cornwall Street Barristers; and Islam Issa, Birmingham City University.

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12 things you didn’t know about Paradise Lost

NewStatesman  online


This year marks 350 years since John Milton’s Paradise Lost was published (1667). Its author was a controversial blind man who publicly advocated the execution of King Charles I before serving in the republican government. He was an anarchist who spoke out against the Catholic Church, didn’t believe in the Trinity and wrote pamphlets about the merits of divorce. But Paradise Lost would become his most important contribution.

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A British scholar has uncovered thousands of letters written by Indian Muslim soldiers during the First World War

Quartz India  online


This letter, along with many others, was recently unearthed by Islam Issa, an English lecturer at the Birmingham City University. The letters are part of a permanent exhibit devoted to charting the role of Muslim soldiers in World War I (1914-1918) at the British Muslim Heritage Centre in Manchester. The exhibit is called Stories of Sacrifice.

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Britain's forgotten army of Muslims fighting in WWI

Middle East Eye  online


Many of these letters are now available to researchers thanks only to a strict censorship regime that was set up to monitor Muslim soldiers and stop them from defecting to forces fighting alongside the Ottomans, who at the time “represented Islamic power,” Issa said.

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New research reveals almost 900,000 Muslims fought in WWI

Birmingham Live  online


Dr Islam Issa, a lecturer at Birmingham City University , has been studying the Islamic contribution to the conflict and has found that at least 885,000 Muslims were recruited by the Allies - more than double the 400,000 previously estimated.

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Multimedia Appearances




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Dr Islam Issa on literary receptions Learn from experts at Birmingham City University. Dr. Islam Issa, School of English.



Accomplishments (3)

Winner, Research Project of the Year: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

2019 Times Higher Education Awards

University Researcher of the Year (Highly Commended)

2019 Birmingham City University

BBC New Generation Thinker

2017 BBC/Arts and Humanities Research Council

Education (2)

University of Birmingham: Ph.D., English Literature 2014

University of Birmingham: B.A., English Literature & Language 2010

Affiliations (6)

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Member of the Milton Society of America
  • Member of the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies
  • Member of the Emerging Literary Translators’ Network
  • Member of the Birmingham Translation Studies Research Forum
  • Member of the Birmingham Centre for Reformation and Early Modern Studies

Event Appearances (5)

Literary Reception: Hegemony, Ownership and Appropriation

National Autonomous University of Mexico (2019)  Mexico City, Mexico

Democratizing and Globalizing Shakespeare for the Public

117th Pacific and Ancient Modern Language Association Conference (2019)  San Diego, USA

Milton and Cultural Difficulty

The Twelfth International Milton Symposium (2019)  Strasbourg, France

The Politics of Online Reading: Milton, Wikipedia, and the Arab Spring

BritGrad (2018)  Stratford-upon-Avon, England

Paradise Lost and Cultural Difficulty

King’s College London (2018)  London, England

Articles (1)

‘Certainly the Muslim is the very devil incarnation’: Islamophobia and The Merchant of Venice

The Muslim World

2018 In this paper, we examine Shakespeare's sixteenth‐century play, The Merchant of Venice. Anti‐Semitism is a key theme in this play. The well‐known central character, Shylock, is a Jewish man ridiculed and victimised because of his identity. Much literary research has been done on the anti‐Semitism of the play, and many social studies have compared anti‐Semitism and Islamophobia, but scarcely any research brings a Shakespearean play from the sixteenth century into the context of twenty‐first century Islamophobia.

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