Date of this Version
The theme for this year's Penn Humanities forum is that of 'word and image,' a broad topic indeed. Even after deciding that my project would broadly focus on the interactions between French Orientalist and North African narrative and painting, I lacked a focus for the project that would marry it firmly to this theme. Finally, I arrived at what had always been the most obvious connection: the image of the so-called "Oriental" woman. Despite my initial fears of such a focus becoming reductive, it has in fact shed a revealing light on the interplay of these two discourses. As can be imagined, however, any attempt to attack this multivalent image without first limiting one's scope temporally, theoretically, and geographically will not only expand to an unmanageable size; it will also once again reduce the huge variety of the Arabo-Islamic nations to one reductive sigil, that of the "Arab woman." This essay will therefore confine itself to the Maghreb region, comprising the modern nations of Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco. Further, I am concentrating on the two major temporal points: mid-to-late 19th century French Orientalist painting and narrative, and post-1950's North African francophone and Arabic narrative.
Date Posted: 31 July 2007