The Orientalism Debates: Said
In 1978 Edward Said published Orientalism, a book that presents a strong critique of Western scholarship on the Middle East. Thirty years later it is hard to find a discipline in the humanities and the social sciences that has not been influenced by Said’s work. In this course we will read Orientalism, study Said’s complex relationship with the work of Foucault, his long feud with Bernard Lewis, the influence of Orientalism on fields as disparate as art history and political science, and read the works of recent critics of Said such as Dan Varisco and Robert Irwin. Central questions we will consider include: How has Orientalism been exemplified (and subsequently critiqued) in the fields of history, cultural studies, art history, and film? What has differentiated European from American Orientalism? Considering the political and ideological nature of representation, can our knowledge of the “other” ever be considered accurate?