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 function within the improvement of yank nationwide id over the century, revealing principally unexplored exchanges among those cultural traditions that might 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 trip mania within the years of Jacksonian enlargement and into the writings of romantics equivalent to Edgar Allen Poe, the publication argues that not just have been Arabs and Muslims prominently featured in nineteenth-century literature, yet that the variations writers demonstrated among figures similar to Moors, Bedouins, Turks and Orientals supply facts of the transnational scope of family 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 to be in captivity narratives, shuttle narratives, imaginitive literature, and ethnic literature concurrently instantiate and undermine definitions of the yankee kingdom and American citizenship.
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Extra resources for American Arabesque: Arabs and Islam in the Nineteenth Century Imaginary
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.
Cathcart, describing the slave prison, or Bagnio, where he owns a bar, complains: The jingling of chains adds horror to this dismal dungeon beyond conception, which with the stench and unnatural imprecations and blasphemy of some of its miserable inhabitants, makes it really a perfect pandemonium. I will now proceed to describe this receptacle of human misery. . They are perfectly dark and in the day are illuminated with lamps, and when full of drunken Turks, Moors, Arabs, Christians, and now and then a Jew or two .