Andrew G. Simon

Lecturer and Research Associate
Academic Appointments

Lecturer and Research Associate

Andrew Simon is a historian of media, popular culture, and the modern Middle East. He holds a B.A. in Arabic, Middle East, and Islamic Studies from Duke University and was a fellow at the Center for Arabic Study Abroad in Cairo during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. He received his Ph.D. from Cornell University and is currently serving as a lecturer at Dartmouth. Andrew's interdisciplinary research has received generous support from the Social Science Research Council and the American Research Center in Egypt, and his work has been published in the International Journal of Middle East Studies and cited in the Washington Post. Andrew's first book, Media of the Masses: Cassette Culture in Modern Egypt (2022), is forthcoming with Stanford University Press and shares the extraordinary story of an ordinary object.

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Media of the Masses investigates the social life of an everyday technology – the cassette tape – to offer a multisensory history of modern Egypt. Over the 1970s and 1980s, cassettes became a ubiquitous presence in Egyptian homes and stores, and gave opening to ordinary individuals to challenge state-controlled Egyptian media. Drawing on a wide array of sources that were part of everyday life but rarely surface in state collections, this book documents these developments and provides a new entry point into understanding the past, daily life, and culture. Cassettes and cassette players, it demonstrates, did not simply join other twentieth century mass media like records and radio; they were the media of the masses. Comprised of little more than magnetic reels in plastic cases, cassettes empowered countless people to create culture and circulate information long before the advent of the internet. Positioned at the productive crossroads of social history, cultural anthropology, and media and sound studies, Media of the Masses ultimately shows how the most ordinary things may yield the most surprising insights.

This year (2021-2022), Andrew will be offering a series of courses that rely on a wide array of primary sources to inspire lively discussions, including: "Soundscapes of the Middle East" (Summer 2021), "Violence and Conflict in the Middle East" (Fall 2021), "The Making of the Modern Middle East" (Fall 2021), a First-Year Seminar on "Steamships to Social Media: Technology in Middle East History" (Winter 2022), and "Gender and the Modern Middle East and North Africa" (Winter 2022). To date, Andrew has led multiple independent studies (MES 85), including "China and the Middle East," "Islam, Education, Renaissance," and "Disability in the Middle East," and has advised two award-winning senior honors theses. Going forward, he welcomes the opportunity to work closely with undergraduates on a topic of their choosing. Students interested in pursuing an independent study or senior honors thesis are encouraged to reach out. Andrew is a firm believer in student scholarship reaching a wider audience and has assisted students in publishing their original research on public platforms and in academic forums. Recently, one of his students won the Plotnick Prize for best research paper in Jewish Studies at Dartmouth. To learn more about one of Andrew's courses, "Soundscapes of the Middle East," check out this recent article in Dartmouth News.

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217 Wilson Hall
HB 6191
Middle Eastern Studies
B.A. Duke University
M.A. Cornell University
Ph.D. Cornell University

Selected Publications

Media of the Masses: Cassette Culture in Modern Egypt (Stanford University Press, 2022) Series: Stanford Studies in Middle Eastern and Islamic Societies and Cultures

Simon, Andrew. "Censuring Sounds: Tapes, Taste, and the Creation of Egyptian Culture." International Journal of Middle East Studies 51, no. 2 (2019): 233-256.

Simon, Andrew. "An Ordinary Icon: Cassettes, Counternarratives, and Shaykh Imam," in The Power of Song: The Cultural Politics of Singers Around the Globe (University of Illinois Press 2022).

Review of Omar D. Foda's Egypt's Beer: Stella, Identity, and the Modern StateInternational Journal of Middle East Studies 53, no. 3 (2021): 524-26

Review of Nathaniel Greenberg's How Information Warfare Shaped the Arab Spring: The Politics of Narrative in Egypt and TunisiaInternational Journal of Middle East Studies 52, no. 4 (2020): 789-791.

Speaking engagements

"Beyond Blueprints: Technology in Middle East History" + "Rewriting the Arab Left"

Washington, D.C., Annual Meeting for the Middle East Studies Association (MESA). 2020.

"Unconventional Archives: Towards a Historical Ethnography of Egypt's Soundscape."

Doha, Ideas Towards New Agendas Conference, Hamad Bin Khalifa University. 2020.

"Audiocassettes and the Internet: Mass Media, Modern Egypt, and Middle East Studies."

Austin, TX, Department of Middle Eastern Studies, UT Austin. 2020.