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Enlightenment philosophy introduced the notion that social evolution and progress resulted from scientific inquiry and technological advancements. This view evolved out of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment idea that all societies progressed in a linear fashion toward modernity, the pinnacle of which was European civilization. In this construction “modern” or “progressive” societies were those that mimicked European cultural, social, economic, and political structures. Western missionaries’ efforts in the nineteenth century to bring “Christianity, commerce and civilization” set in motion a progressive ideology that led to modern development practice in Africa. These three words captured the Enlightenment ideology of social progress, the capitalism of the Industrial Revolution, and the mating of Christian doctrine with secular social Darwinian ideas. By defining poverty as a lack of access to capitalist systems “modern” societies defined any cultures not fully participating in capitalism as poor. These concepts are the bedrock of modern development theory. They presume that Western civilization is the highest form of social development, that all societies must progress in a linear fashion to attain this status, and that development will come through an economic transformation that will reshape social and cultural aspects of societies.
Even though Cormac McCarthy’s position in relation to the Western genre is subversive, working against a genre still requires thorough familiarity with the conventions of that genre. Two of McCarthy’s Western novels, namely Cities of the Plain (1998) and No Country for Old Men (2005), were originally written as screenplays, placing his writing within the context of the cinematic Western. Given McCarthy’s interest in both the genre and medium of Western films, an investigation into his cinematic influences is apposite. The publication dates of McCarthy’s Western novels follow the emergence of a revisionist shift in the Western film genre. The first wave of revisionist appeared in the mid 1960s and early 1970s. Largely influenced by social and ideological disillusionment following the Vietnam War, the films were characterized by their cynical, amoral, and above all violent portrayals of the so-called Wild West. There are numerous nuances of similarity between McCarthy’s Western novels and the most influential Western films of the pre-revisionist and revisionist eras, namely, those directed by John Ford, Sergio Leone, and especially Sam Peckinpah.
The discursive sphere of Islam explored in this book emerges through the interaction of texts of many genres, elaborating faith and engaging with multiple previous, neighboring, and intertwined cultures, and disseminated through ritual, poetry, music, geometry, and painting. The ideas about perception woven through them suggest that the questions that we ask through modern, Euronormative frameworks of religion, art, and history often veil Islamic culture in the name of revealing it. This not only alters dominant understandings of Islam and its arts, but also destabilizes the presumed universalism of disciplinary art history. Positing the broader category of ‘perceptual culture’ against the analytic limitations implicit in the categories ‘art’ and ‘history,’ this introduction critiques the modern segregation of culture from religion as disingenuous. Rather than inviting a ‘Western’ reader trying to understand an Islamic ‘other,’ it situates the reader, regardless of faith or heritage, as a modern subject using historical theological, philosophical, and poetic discourses to enter an earlier episteme and engage with Islamic cultures of the past. The resulting study emphasizes interfaith communication and Sufism as central aspects of Islamic perceptual cultures. It reflects on the performative character of perception as experienced through the eye, the ear, or the heart.
It might come as a surprise that the American Western adaptation of King Lear should be the product of European collaboration between British Shakespearean actor Patrick Stewart and German director Uli Edel. This contribution tries to show how the adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy into King of Texas (2002) is influenced by the problematic relation both to its source, to the chosen setting of the young Republic of Texas and to the cinematographic genre of the Western that the adaptation belongs to. Combining methodologies of source studies and of the theory of adaptation, the chapter examines the numerous questions that the film raises on three fronts: that of authorship, as the genesis of the film reveals an authorial instability that makes the usual tension between source and target authors even more complex; that of the adaptation itself, namely the transposition of a seventeenth-century play text to a twenty-first-century film whose plot is set in a nineteenth-century Texas; and finally that of the interpretation that replaces or displaces the questioning of royalty and nobility and of the social issues related to birth with new issues of race that find themselves grafted onto the play.