Sabra Webber

Professor Emeritus of the Near Eastern Languages & Cultures

After graduating from Occidental College with an English degree, Professor Webber spent three years in the Peace Corps in Tunisia, North Africa teaching in a small-town kindergarten and publishing in Tunisian Arabic a collection of childrens rhymes and rhyming games as well as lullabies recorded while traveling around Tunisia. The introduction to the book was written by Si Mohamed Marzouki, celebrated Tunisian folklorist. Subsequently she attended the University of California earning an MA in folklore (thesis based on field research on Tunisian riddles) and continued on to earn a PhD in Cultural Anthropology with a specialization in folklore at the University of Texas, Austin. After a year as an NEH fellow in French, Moroccan and Tunisian libraries and archives, she was hired by OSU via a Comparative Studies and NELC joint appointment in 1983 and retired as a Full Professor in June, 2017. Over the years she was appointed a research fellow with the American Research Center in Egypt, a Rockefeller Residency fellow, a Fulbright Senior Regional Research fellow, an SSRC fellow, an American Institute of Maghribi Studies fellow, and a fellow of the British Academy.

She served as chair of the Department of Comparative Studies for 6 years and acting chair of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures over a span of two years. For Comparative Studies she directed 2 undergraduate honors theses, and 7 MA theses and for NELC one honors thesis, ten MA theses and five dissertations. She also co-directed two dissertationsone for a one of a kind PhD in anthropology and Greek and one in Slavic. She has published 30 articles (in English, Arabic, French and German), 17 book reviews and two videos and served as book review editor for anthropology and history for the International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies.

Post-retirement, (March 2018) she was awarded a Visiting Scholar short grant from the Khayrallah Center at the State University of North Carolina. The project for which it was awarded is titled A Cultured Man: A Study of Dr. Alan Jabbours Family Immigration Saga. Jabbour was a first generation Syrian-American who became a celebrated American folklorist and musician.

Sabra Webbers long term writing projects are to complete a book on Sir Richard Burton, Traveler as Trickster, a work that considers his life through the lens of a cultural anthropologist/folklorist, and to complete a monograph on Arabic regional riddles within a Mediterranean historical context. She is also compiling a study guide to accompany Folklore Unbound.