Friday, July 04, 2003

Martin Kramer e-mails to point out this post about a Georgetown University MA program which requires students to read Orientalism the summer before they start the program, along with Albert Hourani's A History of the Arab Peoples and a book about women in the Middle East with with I am unfamiliar. I'm not sure this affects what I said below that much, though it does point out the problem with anecdotal evidence. Between my experiences and those of another e-mailer, I now have Kramer out-anecdoted 2-1, though since he's been following this longer he would probably win if I dug into his archives and counted all his anecdotes. In addition, I think the question of how Said is used is more important than whether his books are assigned. Bernard Lewis is a man whose political views most people in Middle Eastern Studies despise, yet his The Middle East was the main textbook for the 200-level medieval Islamic history course here, and I was assigned his Race and Slavery in the Middle East for a seminar on that topic that also included a reading by Daniel Pipes. Finding out why all these people want to read Orientalism is just as important as the fact they do read him.


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