Department of English, Jadavpur University

Home » Courses » Courses: July-Dec 2013 » IMAGES OF THE ORIENT IN ROMANTIC LITERATURE



Optional Course for UG II and UG III

Course code: Eng/UG/015

Course coordinator: Rafat Ali

Classes held on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday at 3:45pm and Thursday at 4:30pm.


Brief Course Description

Since the publication of Edward Said’s seminal study Orientalism (1978) there has been a common tendency to view the Western style of studying and thinking about the Orient as being essentially “a Western style for dominating, restructuring and having authority over the Orient”. The experiences of imperialism and colonialism are seen as essential factors in shaping the discourse on the East – a discourse where knowledge and power are inextricably linked. This course is a selective reading of English prose and poetry of the Romantic period with a view to study the context and significance of certain images of the orient recurring in these texts and will make an intervention in this debate on orientalism with a fresh look at some of the main literary texts from the Romantic period.

While we may not be able to quarrel with the certain degree of truth in Said’s thesis that  Western writers and scholars created an image of the Orient as a place of tyranny, unreason and immorality destined to be subjected and exploited by the civilized West, close and detailed analyses of some of the Romantic representations of the Ottoman Empire, India, China and the Far East by writers of the Romantic period  will help us in exploring the possibilities of a positive perception of other cultures.


Course Outline and Week Plan



Week 1 (9 Jul -12 Jul): Conceptualizing the Orient/Occident – “the Idea of Europe” – Europe and

its “Others”.

Week 2 (16 Jul – 19 Jul): Edward Said’s Orientalism and its critics

Week 3 (23 Jul – 26 Jul): Edward Said’s Orientalism and its critics

Week 4 (30 Jul – 2 Aug): Pre –Enlightenment and post –enlightenment views of the Orient and

introduction to Romantic Orientalism.

Week 5 (6 Aug – 9 Aug): William Beckford, Vathek

Week 6 (13 Aug – 16 Aug): William Beckford, Vathek

Week 7 (20 Aug – 23 Aug): Thomas Moore: “The Fire Worshippers” in Lalla Rookh

Week 8 (27 Aug – 30 Aug): Byron, from the Turkish Tales

Week 9 (3 Sept – 6 Sept): Byron, from the Turkish Tales

Week 10 (10 Sept – 13 Sept): Robert Southey, Thalaba the Destroyer

Week 11 (17 Sept – 20 Sept): William Jones, from the Hindu Hymns

Week 12 (24 Sept – 27 Sept): Percy Bysshe Shelley, from The Revolt of Islam, Alastor

Week 13 (1 Oct – 4 Oct): Coleridge, “Kubla Khan”, Wordsworth, from The Prelude

Week 14 (8 Oct – 9 Oct): Blake, selections.

Week 15 (22 Oct – 25 Oct): Thomas De Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium Eater

Week 16 (29 Oct – 1 Nov): Philip Meadows Taylor, Confessions of a Thug

Week 17 (5 Nov – 8 Nov): Revision and students ‘presentations


General Reading List:


Raymond Schwab, The Oriental Renaissance: Europe’s Rediscovery of India and the East, 1680-1880 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984).

Edward W. Said, Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient (1978; paperback edition New Delhi: Penguin Books India, 2001).

Saree Makdisi, Romantic Imperialism: Universal Empire and the Culture of Modernity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

Rana Kabbani, Europe’s Myths of the Orient: Devise and Rule (London: Macmillan, 1986)

Ronald Inden, “Orientalist Constructions of India” Modern Asian Studies 20:3 (1986), pp. 401-446.

A. R. Kidwai, Literary Orientalism: A Companion (New Delhi: Viva Books, 2009).





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