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Picture of French Orientalism

French Orientalism

Culture, Politics, and the Imagined Other

Editor(s): Desmond Hosford and Chong J. Wojtkowski
Subject: French Studies

Book Description

In 1798, Napoléon I launched his Egyptian Campaign and opened what has become recognized as the canonic period of French Orientalism, which extends from the late eighteenth through the early twentieth century. As defined by Edward W. Said (Orientalism, 1978), Orientalism is intrinsically Eurocentric and places the Orient in opposition to the European West as the quintessentially foreign Other. In this sense, the Occident supposedly defines itself by gazing at the East as its inverse image and purportedly asserts a geopolitical dominance materially confirmed through imperialism and colonization. Although Europe may cast the Orient as the archetypal Other, this necessarily entails deep conflict since the Orient is also frequently posited as the source of Western civilization, which prohibits the articulation of a complete separation between Europe and the Orient. Nevertheless, according to French Orientalist discourse, the East had fallen into barbarism, inertia, and languished, awaiting the mission civilisatrice by which France undertook a heroic project of universal enlightenment.

The canonic approach to Orientalism has drawn much criticism, which calls for re-examining the notion of French Orientalism, broadening the scope of enquiry, and exploring the history and ideological strategies behind French formulations of the Orient from the Middle Ages through the twenty-first century. Such an expanded field of investigation reveals that the canonic Orientalist paradigm is not universally applicable, particularly regarding material from before the late eighteenth century. New theoretical, literary, historical, philosophical, and cultural perspectives provide the opportunity to deploy, question, subvert, and resituate canonic Orientalist theories, revealing the continuing evolution and relevance of French Orientalism as a notion with global stakes and material consequences. Because of its broad scope and variety of theoretical approaches, this volume will interest scholars and students from a wide spectrum of disciplines, including literature, gender studies, history, theater, art history, music, cinema, and cultural studies.

Hardback

ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-2318-0
ISBN-10: 1-4438-2318-X
Date of Publication: 01/09/2010
Pages / Size: 275 / A5
Price: £39.99
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Biography

Desmond Hosford is a PhD candidate in French at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York, where he also earned his PhD in musicology. He is Director of the Foundation for French and Francophone Musical Culture of the Barry S. Brook Center for Music Research and Documentation at the Graduate Center of The City University of New York, Editor at the Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale, and Adjunct Assistant Professor in French at Hunter College. Desmond specializes in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century tragedy, tragédie en musique, the Bourbon court of France, early modern gender and sexuality, and animal philosophy. He is co-editor of Fortune and Fatality: Performing the Tragic in Early Modern France (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008).

Chong J. Wojtkowski is a PhD candidate in French at the Graduate Center of The City University of New York where she specializes in contemporary French cinema, music, and urban culture. She held a graduate teaching fellowship at Hunter College, where she is Adjunct Lecturer in French. Chong is the advisory board member for French popular music at the Foundation for French and Francophone Musical Culture of the Barry S. Brook Center for Music Research and Documentation at the Graduate Center of The City University of New York.