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Department of English

Faculty of Arts, Cairo University






Dear Students,    

Welcome to the Department of English, Cairo University.Prof. Loubna Youssef

It is always a joy to welcome a new class of students to the Department of English, Faculty of Arts, Cairo University. The freshman class of 2011 has joined the department in a challenging stage of the history of Egypt. Egyptians, Arabs, and in fact the people of the world are witnessing history in the making. With reference to the events of the French Revolution, Wordsworth makes a statement that is very relevant today. He said,

            Bliss was it at that dawn to be alive,

            But to be young was very heaven!

 It is because of lines like these that one joins the Department of English, lines that are inspiring and that convey profound ideas and uplifting feelings with which one can easily identify. Let me congratulate you for choosing the Department of English and for succeeding to join it.

This guide will introduce you to the place, courses, and members of staff. It is meant to show you the way, but is by no means comprehensive or exhaustive. You have to explore and discover. You will go through learning experiences that will change your perception and, therefore, your life forever. In this place you will meet members of staff who believe that their career involves a labour of love and a sacred mission. Our efforts are futile unless you get involved in the search for knowledge. This is a serious endeavour, and you will be winners if you travel along this path. Do not underestimate the privilege of being familiar with two languages, and thus two cultures: this is an enriching experience. Be proud of our Arab heritage and be proficient in English. The opening statement of Francis Bacon’s article “Of Studies,” can help you to achieve this: “Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability.” He later eloquently adds that one reads to “weigh and consider” and that “Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.”

During the four years of your stay in this department you can learn something everyday if you are receptive. In class, you are “giver and receiver, both” as Wordsworth said. Here, you make the shift from being a child to being an adult and discuss Hamlet’s “To be or not to be.” Here, you prepare yourself for yet another shift when you face the real world where doors do not open easily. You have to start making an effort now in order to be able to open them. “There is no happiness except as we take on life-engaging difficulties,” as the poet, critic, essayist, and teacher John Ciardi said when he attempts to define happiness.

When you enter the department through the main majestic door, you are immediately faced with the staircase to the Department of History. Our neighbours, the historians, use our lecture halls and we use theirs, and it is only natural that their students study English and ours study history: a fair exchange. If you take a right turn you find the AbdelAziz Hammouda (15) and Samir Sarhan (16) lecture halls. Straight ahead you will find the Student Affairs Offices. The other side of the corridor has the language lab where you can listen to tapes and watch films, lecture hall 14, a faculty lounge and the office of Maha Gomaa, the pleasant administrative assistant. A doorway leads to the office of the head of the department, two staff rooms and the Magdy Wahba Library where the librarian, Ekhlas Abdel-Azim is always willing to help. There is another doorway that leads to the extension of the library and the Rashad Rushdy lecture hall, known for long as room 13. It is quite unfortunate that you have not met these prominent members of staff in person, but their books will enrich our lives for ever.

Let me say a word about the library, and the department website. The library is called after the late professor Magdy Wahba who created and maintained it for many years. In its inception, the library was small, but it grew when private libraries were donated to the department by a number of distinguished professors, such as Saad Gamal, Afaf el-Menoufi, Mona Abdelaall and Aida Shaarawy. To them we are all grateful. We are all also grateful to Dr. Mohammed Abdel Aaty and Dr. Mohamed Abdel-Salaam who spent many sleepless nights to design and create our invaluable website: Make good use of it and if you have any suggestions do let us know.

Let me again welcome and congratulate you for choosing and joining the   Department of English and I sincerely hope your years here will be memorable.

Loubna Abdel-Tawab Youssef

Professor of English Literature,

Department of English Language and Literature.




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