Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Reading the Other and Reading Ourselves: An Interpretive Study of Reviews on Bestsellers about Muslims

By Alicia Angemeer


Since September 11, 2001, Western readers have been turning to bestselling texts written by or about Muslims in their need to learn more about Muslims. These texts promise an insider’s view of predominantly Muslim countries and peoples and are informally influencing and educating many Western readers in their perceptions of Muslims because they are so widely read and discussed. In this study, I explore how Westerners are reading and interpreting the Muslim Other as portrayed in these bestsellers and how they are often unaware of the Orientalist lens through which they read and interpret the Other. I also consider how Westerners may read these texts more critically and responsibly. \ud \ud I perform a conceptual analysis of how Western readers read and interpret the Muslim Other, as expressed through the “texts” of their reviews of bestsellers Reading Lolita in Tehran, The Kite Runner, and Three Cups of Tea. Using Edward Said’s (1978, 1993) postcolonial theoretical concept of Orientalism and employing postcolonial theorists who expand on Said’s concept to craft my theoretical frame though which I analyze these texts, I illuminate the texts’ problematics associated with representations of identity and otherness to show how their reading responses perpetuate negative, colonizing stereotypes of Muslims. I then bring in a second theoretical frame, reader response theory, to reinterpret my first analysis of their reading responses within the context of pedagogical challenges of teaching students to read the Other. In crafting this second theoretical frame I provide an added perspective of a poststructural consideration of the relationship between Self and Other and utilize the work of such theorists as Boler (1994), Burwell, Davis, and Taylor (2008), Felman and Laub (1992), Grobman (2007), Taylor (2007a, 2007b), Todd (2003), and Welch (2000), whose challenges to reveal contextualized reading practices and present more responsible approaches to reading are developed from cross-disciplinary discussions of reading the Other. I also explore the pedagogical implications of reading the Other, challenging the way in which reading the Other is currently approached in teaching multicultural literature in the elementary and secondary classroom.\u

Year: 2012
OAI identifier:
Provided by: D-Scholarship@Pitt

Suggested articles

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.