COMP 324
The Orientalist Sublime and the Politics of Horror
Last Offered Spring 2018
Division I Exploring Diversity Initiative
Cross-listed ENGL 334
This course is not offered in the current catalog

Class Details

Islamophobia is on the rise once again, but its history is long and storied. This course will look at how we got here by asking simple questions: how do we name those things that are beyond the grasp of reason, outside the realm of intelligibility? How do we attempt to domesticate that which is foreign or other? What, to Western Europeans, was the deep mysterious Orient but a new instance of the sublime? What is the Arab world to Americans now? In this seminar, we will take up the inheritance of the eighteenth-century fad in Europe for all things Oriental that followed the translation of The Arabian Nights into French in 1707. We will read the Nights alongside Edmund Burke’s and Immanuel Kant’s theories of the sublime and writings on the French Revolution in order to investigate the relationship between the real politics of Empire and the politics of imperial representation. Raced and gendered imaginaries will play a crucial role in our study. In aiming to understand how literature and art deal with the magisterial, the infinite, the unmapped, the horror, and the mystery of the sublime East, we will touch on important writers and artists in the long history and aftermath of European Orientalism from the eighteenth century to the present. Authors and artist include Daniel Defoe, Mary Wortley Montague, Eliza Fay, J.A.D. Ingres, Eugene Delacroix, Mary Shelley, William Beckford, Comte de LautrĂ©amont, Edgar Allan Poe, Wilkie Collins, Richard Marsh, E.M. Forster, Jorge Luis Borges, and Salman Rushdie.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 25
Expected: 20
Class#: 3824
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: one 2- to 3-page provocation paper to be revised into a formal essay of 5-6 pages following consultation; one final research paper of 10-12 pages on a topic developed out of the course materials
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: English and Comparative Literature majors
Distributions: Division I Exploring Diversity Initiative
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ENGL 334 Division I COMP 324 Division I

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