American arabesque : Arabs, Islam, and the 19th-century imaginary / Jacob Rama Berman.Material type: TextSeries: JSTOR eBooksAmerica and the long 19th century: Publisher: New York : New York University Press, ©2012Description: 1 online resource (xvi, 269 pages) : illustrationsContent type: text Media type: computer Carrier type: online resourceISBN: 9780814789513; 081478951X; 9780814723210; 0814723217Subject(s): Arabs in literature | National characteristics, American, in literature | Islam in literature | Arabs -- Race identityAdditional physical formats: Print version:: American arabesque.DDC classification: 810.9/3529927 LOC classification: PS217.A72 | B47 2012Online resources: Click here to view this ebook.
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Includes bibliographical references and index.
Introduction: Guest Figures -- The Barbarous Voice of Democracy -- Pentimento Geographies -- Poe's Arabesque -- American Moors and the Barbaresque -- Arab Masquerade : Mahjar Identity Politics and Trans-nationalism -- Afterword: Haunted Houses.
American Arabesque examines representations of Arabs, Islam and the Near East in nineteenth-century American culture, arguing that these representations play a significant role in the development of American national identity over the century, revealing largely unexplored exchanges between these two cultural traditions that will alter how we understand them today. Moving from the period of America's engagement in the Barbary Wars through the Holy Land travel mania in the years of Jacksonian expansion and into the writings of romantics such as Edgar Allen Poe, the book argues that not only were Arabs and Muslims prominently featured in nineteenth-century literature, but that the differences writers established between figures such as Moors, Bedouins, Turks and Orientals provide proof of the transnational scope of domestic racial politics. Drawing on both English and Arabic language sources, Berman contends that the fluidity and instability of the term Arab as it appears in captivity narratives, travel narratives, imaginative literature, and ethnic literature simultaneously instantiate and undermine definitions of the American nation and American citizenship.
Print version record.
Reviews provided by Syndetics
CHOICE ReviewBerman (Louisiana State Univ.) of course hopes that his book will be considered timely. Building on previous studies of American Orientalism like Fuad Sha'ban's Islam and Arabs in Early American Thought (CH, Sep'91, 29-0505) and aware--although not approvingly--of American involvement in the Arab world since 9/11, he examines how Arabs and Muslims were represented in the US in the 19th century and how these depictions helped form and negotiate Americans' developing ideas and sensitivities about their "unique" new country and the nature and extent of its democracy. An impenetrable introduction is followed by five chapters, scarcely more readable but somewhat more concrete, concerning such matters as travel narratives, Melville (the reference to Petra in Bartleby), and Poe's use of the "arabesque." It is unfortunate that a theorized, and delicately self-righteous, tendentiousness ("At first glance, locators of insular national identity politics, such as Indians, in exotic contact narratives seem to naturalize American continental expansion by projecting the rhetorical premises of continental imperialism across a global field." [p. 80]) should coexist with occasional subject-verb difficulties and the apparent belief that Madeira is in the Mediterranean (a diplomat was "serving in the Mediterranean as U.S. consul in Madeira," [p. 33]). Summing Up: Optional. Comprehensive collections only. M. D. Allen University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley
Author notes provided by SyndeticsBermanJacob Rama:
Jacob Rama Berman is Assistant Professor of English Literature and Comparative Literature at Louisiana State University.