French Orientalism Assignment #3: Critique and refine Orientalism using primary sources

Paper #3:  Critique and refine Orientalism using primary sources (5pp.)

Your assignment is to use your readings of selected orientalist paintings, by Ingres, Delacroix, and G. Boulanger, in order to enter into a conversation with Saïd’s Orientalism. Your reading of the paintings will lead you make an argument that critiques, refines, and/or extends the theoretical claims in that book.  Your should borrow some of Saïd’s terms and premises (from paper 2) even as you advance your argument about how French orientalist painters imagined the East visually.

Goals of the Essay:

  • Formulate a critical reading of orientalist visual culture, and derive a motivating problem through your interpretation(s).
  • Conceptually link your argument about the compositional features and historical context of the paintings to Orientalism’s general claims about the western view of the Orient.
  • Argue that your interpretive claims about the paintings offer your reader, whom you’ve made familiar with the relevant claims of Orientalism, a more refined view of the Orient as imagined in western painting.
  • Analyze the evidence.  Never assume that your readers will read a passage in the same way that you do or that they’ll draw the same conclusions.  Your analysis of the evidence should persuade your readers of the validity of your claims.

In-class Pre-Draft (1.1):  A collective reading of a (non-assigned) painting

  • Pre-Draft (2):  Contextualizing the paintings
  • Pre-Draft (3):  Returning to the Theoretical Text

Primary Sources:

Paintings by Ingres, Delacroix, and G. Boulanger.

Secondary Sources:

  • Saïd, Orientalism (selections already completed)
  • Joshua Charles Taylor, Learning to Look:  A Handbook for the Visual Arts
  • John MacKenzie, Orientalism:  History, Theory, and the Arts
  • Popkin, A History of Modern France (selections).


Posted in Develop an argument to analyze tension between sources

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