Boullata, Issa J.

Issa J. Boullata
Issa J. Boullata, September 2012, Montreal
Born(1929-02-25)February 25, 1929
DiedMay 1, 2019(2019-05-01) (aged 90)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
CitizenshipUnited States, Canada.
OccupationScholar, writer, translator

Issa J. Boullata (Arabic: عيسى بُلاطه‎; February 25, 1929 – May 1, 2019)[1] was a Palestinian scholar, writer, and translator of Arabic literature.[2]


He was born in Jerusalem on February 25, 1929 during the British Mandate of Palestine.[3] He obtained a First Class BA (Honours) in Arabic and Islamic studies in 1964 followed by a PhD in Arabic literature in 1969, both from the University of London. He taught Arabic studies for seven years at Hartford Seminary, Connecticut, before moving to McGill University, Montreal, in 1975.[4] He taught graduate courses in Arabic Literature, Modern Arab Thought, and Qur'anic Studies at McGill's Institute of Islamic Studies until his retirement in 2004, and the honorific title of Emeritus Professor was conferred upon him on September 1, 2009. In his academic career in Hartford and Montreal, he was the supervisor of ten graduate students who wrote their PhD dissertations under his advice as well as thirty-eight who likewise wrote their MA theses——and some of these graduate students' works were later published. He lived in Montreal for 41 years and, since December 3, 2016, he has been living in a retired seniors' home in Pointe-Claire, Quebec, Canada.

Boullata is the author of several books on Arabic literature and poetry, and on the Qur'an. He has also written numerous articles and book reviews for scholarly journals, as well as articles for several encyclopedias. He is a noted translator of Arabic literature and is a two-time winner of the Arkansas Arabic Translation Award. He is a contributing or of Banipal magazine of London, and his literary translations have appeared in several issues of the magazine. Boullata served as consultant for "The Blue Metropolis Al-Majidi Ibn Dhaher Arab Literary Prize" offered by the Blue Metropolis Foundation at its annual international literary festival in Montreal. Named after the poet Al-Majidi Ibn Dhaher, the prize, worth CAD $5,000, was initiated in 2007 by his efforts with donors. The prize was sponsored by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, and was given yearly to a creative Arab writer at the recommendation of a jury composed of an international roster of poets, novelists and literary professionals. The prize is currently on hiatus.

Marita Seward, of Oneonta, New York, was Boullata's wife for 56 years. She was a librarian at the University until her retirement and died on 15 August 2016. The couple had one daughter and three sons, including David Boullata, a broadcaster (pseudonym: David Tyler) in Montreal, communications lecturer, and writer. Kamal Boullata, a painter, art historian, and literary writer, is Issa Boullata's brother and lives in Berlin, Germany.[citation needed]


As author[]

As or[]

As translator[]

As translator from English to Arabic[]

See also[]

As journal or[]


Two Festschrifts were published to honor Boullata:


Issa J. Boullata was awarded the MESA Mentoring Award in Nov. 2004 by the Middle East Studies Association of North America in recognition of his excellent teaching and scholarly influence on generations of students.

As PhD and MA supervisor[]

Professor Boullata supervised 10 PhD dissertations and 38 MA theses in his higher education career in USA and Canada between 1968 and 2004, and some of them have been published and their authors now occupy respected positions in academic and government institutions.

As Arabic programming consultant[]

Since 2006, Boullata has been the Arabic programming consultant to Montreal's annual Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival and helped it establish a yearly prize for an Arab author, sponsored by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage and called Blue Metropolis Al-Majidi Ibn Dhaher Arab Prize. The prize is currently on hiatus.


  1. ^ "Translator Issa J. Boullata, 90". ArabLit. May 3, 2019. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  2. ^ Profile on Banipal website
  3. ^ "Books and I", an essay by Issa Boullata in Banipal
  4. ^ Profile in Words without Borders website