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.
Cohen, Max A., "Fantastic Orientalism" (2018). Senior Independent Study Theses. Paper 8125.
medieval, travel literature, John Mandeville, Marco Polo, orientalism, Prester John, monstrous races, antipodes
Bachelor of Arts
Senior Independent Study Thesis
© Copyright 2018 Max A. Cohen