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What is the relationship between Orientalism and literature, and how does it aid us in our reading? Orientalism and Literature sets out to interrogate a key critical concept in literary studies and has the aim of reviewing the evolution of the concept as it has been explored, imagined and narrated in literature. Building upon existing scholarship, the aim is to give readers a comprehensive grasp of the origins and present contours of Orientalism and to point out future directions in this field. In the early eighteenth century the term designated scholarship on the East, as well as a style in the arts. Interest in the study of Oriental languages led to the establishment of Orientalism as a profession. Although it continued as a discipline for well over two centuries, its scope developed beyond its philological beginnings and its vaguely defined existence as a literary or artistic topic or style.
Orientalism and Literature discusses a key critical concept in literary studies and how it assists our reading of literature. It reviews the concept's evolution: how it has been explored, imagined and narrated in literature. Part I considers Orientalism's origins and its geographical and multidisciplinary scope, then considers the major genres and trends Orientalism inspired in the literary-critical field such as the eighteenth-century Oriental tale, reading the Bible, and Victorian Oriental fiction. Part II recaptures specific aspects of Edward Said's Orientalism: the multidisciplinary contexts and scholarly discussions it has inspired (such as colonial discourse, race, resistance, feminism and travel writing). Part III deliberates upon recent and possible future applications of Orientalism, probing its currency and effectiveness in the twenty-first century, the role it has played and continues to play in the operation of power, and how in new forms, neo-Orientalism and Islamophobia, it feeds into various genres, from migrant writing to journalism.