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Aesthetic Vision on the Orient: The Structure of Vision in Three 'Orientalist' Texts

By Joost Vormeer


The thesis 'Aesthetic Vision on the Orient' explores three eighteenth and nineteenth century orientalist texts written by William Beckford, Heinrich von Kleist and Gustave Flaubert. The differences between these three primary texts can help us to fill in some important gaps within Edward Said's understanding of Orientalism as an immense unifying discourse. Instead of treating Orientalism as a monolithic system this thesis describes an important rupture between two different 'orientalist' ages, the 'classicist' eighteenth century and the 'modern' ninetheenth century. According to the art historian Jonathan Crary around 1800 a pervasive paradigm change in relation to the perception of sight, vision and the human body took place. This thesis connects the three primary texts with both Said's and Crary's theories and tries to discover how the structure of vision in the primary texts can be disentangled. As a result we are better equiped with historical examples to explain the shifts and differences within Said's own famous use of Orientalism

Topics: Letteren, Orientalism, Visuality
Year: 2008
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