By Jacob Rama Berman
American Arabesque examines representations of Arabs, Islam and the close to East in nineteenth-century American tradition, arguing that those representations play an important position within the improvement of yank nationwide identification over the century, revealing principally unexplored exchanges among those cultural traditions that may modify how we comprehend them at the present time.
Moving from the interval of America’s engagement within the Barbary Wars throughout the Holy Land go back and forth mania within the years of Jacksonian enlargement and into the writings of romantics comparable to Edgar Allen Poe, the booklet argues that not just have been Arabs and Muslims prominently featured in nineteenth-century literature, yet that the diversities writers validated among figures reminiscent of Moors, Bedouins, Turks and Orientals supply evidence of the transnational scope of household racial politics. Drawing on either English and Arabic language resources, Berman contends that the fluidity and instability of the time period Arab because it seems in captivity narratives, trip narratives, ingenious literature, and ethnic literature at the same time instantiate and undermine definitions of the yank kingdom and American citizenship.
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Additional resources for American Arabesque: Arabs and Islam in the Nineteenth Century Imaginary
Navy after the War of 1812. Though certainly situated in distinct cultural milieus, Cathcart and al-Jabbarti are historical contemporaries. Both of them chronicle the historical forces that connect Europe, America, and North Africa in the Age of Revolution. Yet they come to quite disparate assessments of revolution’s rhetorical meaning. In al-Jabbarti’s account of the meeting between Western culture and Arabo-Islamic culture, the Enlightenment terminology undergirding Cathcart’s patriotic values undergoes the rigors of the Arabo-Islamic interpretive method.
45 The arabesques on which I concentrate in the first two chapters directly reference Arab culture. Edgar Allan Poe’s arabesques refer not to the Arab world but rather to a romantic style the writer cultivates in an attempt to distinguish himself in a crowded literary marketplace. Washington Irving, for example, had dubbed his own stories “arabesque” before Poe published Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque. However, though both Poe and Irving shared a fondness for the exotic and a propensity to invoke the supernatural in their short stories, the term arabesque held a different valence in their respective aesthetic sensibilities.
In al-Tahtawi’s writing, the meanings of the representational figures of the Arabic language are being expanded to include modern political concepts such as nationalism. To Poe, the arabesque figure is a sign of modernity because it has been stripped of content and only stands for itself. But to al-Tahtawi, Arab figures are keys to modernity because they demonstrate Arabo-Islamic culture’s ability to incorporate foreign concepts into a familiar idiom. Ultimately, chapter 3 uses dialectics to move toward an intercultural interpretation of the arabesque and its relationship to national identity politics.