This paper develops the concept of fantastic orientalism. Fantastic orientalism refers to the imagined, shared depictions of the east by the west during the medieval period. Medieval depictions of the orient have been derided as superstition and having no academic value. I challenge this assertion. My IS explores how the medieval west imagined the east, and what we can learn of medieval western mindset through this imagined east. Fantastic orientalism tells us not only about how the west viewed the east, but how the west viewed itself. Using geography, religion, monsters and more, my paper looks at the depictions of the fantastic orient from its origins in the work of Herodotus and Pliny, to the reinterpretations of Saint Augustine and late medieval travel writers as well as popular medieval literature. Finally, this paper explores the link between medieval and modern orientalism and their roles in colonial thought.


Sene, Ibra




Medieval History


medieval, travel literature, John Mandeville, Marco Polo, orientalism, Prester John, monstrous races, antipodes

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2018 Max A. Cohen