2018 marks forty years since the publication of Edward Said’s influential work, Orientalism. Is Said’s work still relevant to our conception of “the East” today? What is “the East” today? How is Orientalism, per Said, different from other forms of racism or colonization? Are there other ways for thinking through the relationship between East and West? And what could literature contribute to this theorization?
This seminar is dedicated to critically exploring the implications and relevance of Orientalism to our current theoretical understandings of the East. We will examine this work in the context of Said’s broader oeuvre and in relation both to Said’s critics and to his disciples. In addition to reading different theoretical conceptions of Orientalism and various works on colonization in the Middle East, we will attempt to theorize its perception, as well as its relationship to the West, out of literature. We will therefore also examine literary works that take on the questions raised by Orientalism or perform different forms of self-Orientalization.

Readings may include: Edward Said (mainly, Orientalism, The question of Palestine, Reflections on Exile), Aijaz Ahmad, Hamid Dabashi, Talal Asad, James Clifford, Samera Esmeir, Shaden Tageldin, Gil Anidjar, Leela Gandhi, Lila abu-Lughod, Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin, Nadia Abu El-Haj, Assia Djebar, Albert Memmi, Emile Habiby, Ronit Matalon, Elias Khoury, and the art of Sharif Waked.