Media critic to speak on ‘Images of Arabs and Muslims in Popular Culture’

October 3, 2012 | News
By Staff

Dr. Jack G. Shaheen, internationally acclaimed author and media critic, will deliver the 12th annual Maryse and Ramzy Mikhail Memorial Lecture Sunday, Oct. 7, at 3:30 p.m. in the Richard & Jane McQuade Law Center Auditorium.


The title of his free, public talk is “Images of Arabs and Muslims in Popular Culture: Problems and Prospects.”

A committed internationalist and a devoted humanist, Shaheen is a Pittsburgh native and former CBS news consultant on Middle East Affairs. His lectures and writings illustrate that damaging racial and ethnic stereotypes of Asians, blacks, Native Americans and others injure innocent people. He defines crude caricatures, explains why they persist, and provides workable solutions to help shatter misperceptions.

Shaheen has given more than 1,000 lectures in nearly all the 50 states and on three continents. Among those universities that have welcomed him are Oxford, Amherst, Brown, Emory, Harvard, the University of Southern California, West Point, as well as the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the White House Truman Center. World capitols where he has spoken include London, Berlin, Paris, Prague, New Delhi, Cairo and Istanbul.

He has consulted with the United Nations, the Los Angeles Commission on Human Relations, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and New York City’s Commission on Civil Rights. In cooperation with the United States government, he has conducted communication seminars throughout the Middle East.

Shaheen is the author of five books: Nuclear War Films, Arab and Muslim Stereotyping in American Popular Culture, The TV Arab, the award-winning Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People, and Guilty: Hollywood’s Verdict on Arabs After 9/11.

His writings include 300-plus essays in publications such as Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, as well as chapters on media stereotypes in dozens of college textbooks. He has appeared on national network programs on CNN, MSNBC and National Public Radio. And Shaheen has served as a consultant with film and TV companies, including DreamWorks, Warner Brothers, Hanna-Barbera and Showtime.

An Oxford Research Scholar, Shaheen is the recipient of two Fulbright teaching awards. He holds degrees from the Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Missouri.

Shaheen won the University of Pennsylvania’s Janet Lee Stevens Award for his “outstanding contribution toward a better understanding of our global community”; the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of “his lifelong commitment to bring a better understanding toward peace for all mankind”; and the Pancho Be Award for “the advancement of humanity.” Pancho Be, a Mayan phrase, means to seek the root of truth.

The Mikhail Lecture is made possible through the Maryse and Ramzy Mikhail Endowment Fund, established in 2000 by the Mikhail family.

“The purpose of the Mikhail Fund is to support an annual lecture dealing with Arab culture, literature, history, politics, economics or other broadly defined aspects of life in the Middle East,” said Dr. Samir Abu-Absi, UT professor emeritus of English and member of the Mikhail Memorial Lecture Committee. “The committee is very excited about this year’s program as it addresses some very timely issues related to the proliferation of negative images of Arabs and Muslims in the media and popular culture.”

The lecture is co-sponsored by the UT College of Languages, Literature and Social Sciences with WGTE as media sponsor and with support from the UT College of Law International Law Society.

For more information, contact Abu-Absi at

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