Romantic Orientalism
ENG 4667S, Spring 2003
Wednesday 2:00-4:00, Room 2001, 7 King's College Circle

Professor: Dan White
Office: UTM 296A NB, 905-828-5291 / St. George 2211 7 KCC
Office Hours: UTM Monday 1:00-2:00, St. George Wednesday 4:00-5:00

Course Focus: This term we will attempt to understand the complex ways in which Romantic works of poetry and fiction constitute generic, political, and religious engagements with the East, and especially with the Islamic world. The course will begin by examining the eighteenth-century sources of Romantic-period knowledge about Islam, such as George Sale's translation of the Koran (1734, republ. 1795) and the various "Lives of Mahomet" that appeared with regularity from the 1690s through the 1750s. Thereafter, we will turn to the orientalist literature of the Romantic period. Our primary focus throughout will be on understanding the codes, terms, and stakes of Romantic orientalism in relation to literary experimentalism, British nationalism, and the colonial enterprise. This focus will require a variety of theoretical models, both of colonialism and imperialism in general as well as of Romantic subjectivity in particular.

Method of Evaluation: Class participation (20%), abstract (10%, 500 words), presentation (20%, 20 minutes followed by q & a), research paper (50%, 20 pp.).

Texts: Along with the coursepack, the following texts are available for purchase at the Campus Book Store.

All other readings are available for photocopying from Short Term Loan at Robarts.

Wednesday, January 8

Course Introduction

Title page and frontispiece to William Hurd, A New Universal History of the Religious Rites, Ceremonies, and Customs of the Whole World: Or, A Complete and Impartial View of All the Religions in the Various Nations of the Universe. Both Antient and Modern, from the Creation down to the present Time (London, 1788).

Map, "Eslam or the Countries which have professed the Faith of Mahomet" (London, 1817).

Wednesday, January 15

From Humphrey Prideaux, The True Nature of Imposture Fully Displayed in the Life of Mahomet. With a Discourse annexed, for the Vindicating of Christianity from this Charge; Offered to the Consideration of the Deists of the present Age (London, 1697).

George Sale, "A Preliminary Discourse" prefixed to The Koran, Commonly called the Alcoran of Mohammed, Translated into English immediately from the Original Arabic; with Explanatory Notes, taken from the most approved Commentators (London, 1734).

From The Ceremonies and Religious Customs of the Various Nations of the Known World. Together with Historical Annotations And several Curious Discourses. Equally Instructive and Entertaining. Vol. VII. Containing the Various Sects of Mahometans (London, 1739). [Commonly referred to as by Bernard Picart, who was the principal engraver of the French edition, Ceremonies et coutumes religieuses de tous les peuples du monde, 8 vols. (Amsterdam, 1723-43), by Jean Frédéric Bernard and Antoine Augustin Bruzen de la Martinière, among others.]

  • Edward Said, "Introduction," from Orientalism; and "Orientalism Reconsidered" (1985), in Reflections on Exile and Other Essays
  • Aijaz Ahmad, "Orientalism and After," in Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader
  • Dennis Porter, "Orientalism and its Problems," in Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader

Wednesday, January 22

Sir William Jones, "Essay on the Poetry of the Eastern Nations" (1772)
---, "An Essay on the Arts, Commonly Called Imitative" (1772)
---, from The Moallakát, or Seven Arabian Poems, which were Suspended on the Temple at Mecca (1782)
---, On the Gods of Greece, Italy, and India (1784)

  • Peter J. Kitson, "Romanticism and colonialism: races, places, peoples, 1785-1800," in Romanticism and Colonialism: Writing and Empire, 1780-1830
  • Sara Suleri, "The Rhetoric of English India," in The Rhetoric of English India
  • Gauri Viswanathan, "Pedagogical Alternatives: Issues in Postcolonial Studies," in Between the Lines: South Asians and Postcoloniality

Wednesday, January 29

Edmund Burke, "Speech on Fox's East India Bill, Dec 1, 1783"
---, "Speech on Opening of Impeachment 15 February 1788"
---, "Speech on Opening of Impeachment 16 February 1788"
---, "Speech on Opening of Impeachment 18 February 1788"

  • Sara Suleri, "Burke and the Indian Sublime" and "Reading the Trial of Warren Hastings," in The Rhetoric of English India
  • Michael J. Franklin, "Accessing India: Orientalism, anti-'Indianism' and the rhetoric of Jones and Burke," in Romanticism and Colonialism

Wednesday, February 5

William Beckford, Vathek and "The History of the Two Princes and Friends, Alasi and Firouz" (1786)
C.F. Volney, The Ruins, or, Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires (1791)

Wednesday, February 12

Elizabeth Hamilton, Translation of the Letters of a Hindoo Rajah (1796)
Walter Savage Landor, Gebir (1798)

Wednesday, February 19

Reading Week

Wednesday, February 26

Robert Southey, Thalaba the Destroyer (1801)
---, The Curse of Kehama (1810)

  • Tim Fulford, "Romanticism and colonialism: races, places, peoples, 1800-1830," in Romanticism and Colonialism
  • Mary Louise Pratt, "Introduction: Criticism in the contact zone" and "Science, planetary consciousness, interiors," in Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation
  • Homi Bhaba, "Signs Taken for Wonders: Questions of Ambivalence and Authority under a Tree outside Delhi, May 1817," in The Location of Culture

Wednesday, March 5

Sydney Owenson, The Missionary (1811)

  • Balachandra Rajan, "Feminizing the Feminine: Early Women Writers on India," in Romanticism, Race, and Imperial Culture, 1780-1834
  • Siraj Ahmed, "'An Unlimited Intercourse': Historical Contradictions and Imperial Romance in the Early Nineteenth Century," in The Containment and Re-Deployment of English India
  • Saree Makdisi, "Introduction: Universal Empire," in Romantic Imperialism: Universal Empire and the Culture of Modernity

Wednesday, March 12

Lord Byron, The Giaour (1813)
---, The Corsair (1814)
Thomas Moore, "The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan," "The Fire-Worshippers," and framing narrative, from Lalla Rookh (1817)

  • Joseph Lew, "The Necessary Orientalist? The Giaour and Nineteenth-Century Imperialist Misogyny," in Romanticism, Race, and Imperial Culture, 1780-1834
  • Nigel Leask, "'Byron turns Turk': Orientalism and the 'Eastern Tales'," in British Romantic Writers and the East: Anxieties of Empire
  • Marilyn Butler, "Byron and the Empire in the East," in Byron: Augustan and Romantic

Abstracts due (except for those who will present on Byron, Moore, or Shelley)

Wednesday, March 19

P.B. Shelley, Laon and Cythna (1818; reissued as The Revolt of Islam)
---, "Ode to the West Wind" (1820)
---, Prometheus Unbound (1820)

  • Nigel Leask, "'Sharp Philanthropy': Percy Bysshe Shelley and Romantic India," in British Romantic Writers and the East: Anxieties of Empire
  • Marilyn Butler, "Shelley and the Empire in the East," in Shelley: Poet and Legislator of the World

Abstracts due (for those who will present on Byron, Moore, or Shelley)

Wednesday, March 26


Wednesday, April 2


Wednesday, April 9


 Monday, April 21, Research Papers Due in English Office by Noon


Daniel E. White