Running List of In-Class Assignments
Chasing the Monsoons excerpt, 1/28/19
What does Representation mean? Why is it a significant word for this conversation?
Re-presentations: Nothing is real in literature or art, things can only be realistic. We
choose what details to include in our representations, and each word in our choices
forms an argument. Description is argument.
Write: Choose a reoccurring theme or idea from Frater’s text and one or two of the
oppositions he created. These oppositions were not necessarily created by Frater as
the intentional writer, but by his text. What argument is being posed by these
oppositional representations? What does this text imply through its representations
of the differences between the East and West about India and Indians? About the
relationship between the East and the West? (Or men and women?)
Now consider the anomalies. Make your argument evolve to adapt to these
Weinberger, “Dream of India,” 2/1/19
Eliot Weinberger’s “Dream of India” features a wide range of supposedly true
observations of the geography, culture, flora, and fauna of India. Search through
Weinberger’s essay to find strands of common thoughts or images that connect
these observations. Once you’ve found a strand, think carefully as you name it. Be
specific enough to make your strand meaningful, but general enough to capture
other instances of that strand. Identify at least 3 strands, and locate multiple
instances of each strand within the essay.
Choose what seems to be the most important strand, and identify something anomalous
within it. Feel free to redefine or expand the idea behind your strand in order to incorporate
an interesting anomaly.
Propose a theory that explains the significance of the strand you’ve identified, and try to
incorporate your anomaly into that theory. How, in other words, does this strand shed light
on the meaning of Weinberger’s essay? (Feel free to use material from the rest of the story
to support your theory.)
Phantom India Writing Prompts: Please Choose One
1. “A Westerner twice over”: Malle seems to think of the camera (“A Westerner
with a camera—a Westerner twice over”) as a filter or an obstruction—
something preventing him from really seeing India. Using your notes and
considering the self-awareness of the narration, what argument does Louis Malle
make about his relationship to the images he has recorded? Cite details from one
or two scenes to back up your assertion. Consider whether or not you think his
argument is sound.
2. “Hippies”: Consider all three interviews with the “hippies” (the two interviews
with Bernard and Didier and the one interview with the nudist in Goa). What
argument is Malle making here? How is he (or isn’t he) implicated in his own
argument? How does this argument reflect on the other images contained in his
3. The Authorities: On being looked at with what he perceives to be suspicion at a
political rally, Malle says, “Indeed, often I feel like a cop, as if my film were
surveillance, an investigation the purpose of which I’m not sure.” What about
Malle’s role in India leads him to feel like this floating source of authority? What are
the implications of this statement?
4. “The Impossible Camera”: This episode was titled “The Impossible Camera.”
Using the details from at least two scenes as evidence, why do you think Malle chose
that title for this episode?
Scene list, in case you needed help remembering: Intellectuals, women in the field scraping
straw, men around fire, father/son monkey dancers, the stares, brick making, women:
exploited and… beautiful!, “Catholics”, vultures, folklore, pavement art, dancing Gujerati
women, marriage & love, Bernard & Didier, the fishermen and the Seychelles.
Questions on Edward Said’s Orientalism (2/20)
Question #1: In the first episode of Louis Malle's Phantom India, as Malle films the
final scene with the fishermen on the beach, he says: "Suddenly, the fishermen in
front of me are replaced by others. Once again memory fills the foreground, and I’m
incapable of living in the present, of feeling it, of touching it. Even in the Seychelles,
reality escaped me, that elusive harmony between men, light and landscape. I had to
reinvent it, modify it, project onto it my dreams and memories. I had to destroy it.
Westerner, Filmmaker, Time’s tamer, Time’s slave."
In this moment, Malle seems aware that he is destroying the "reality" of the East by
representing it on film--supplanting it with something Western. Does Malle's
awareness of his destruction of the "real" East make his text less Orientalist? How
does it compare to other, less self-aware representations of the East? (Think of
Frater’s Monsoons or any modern representations of India [Slumdog Millionaire,
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Darjeeling Express, etc.]—or of popular representations
of any other “so-called third-world nations,” for that matter)?
Question #2: In our reading for Monday, Said writes that “One aspect of the
electronic, postmodern world is that there has been a reinforcement of the
stereotypes by which the Orient is viewed. Television, the films, and all the media's
resources have forced information into more and more standardized molds. So far as
the Orient is concerned, standardization and cultural stereotyping have intensified
the hold of the nineteenth-century... demonology of 'the mysterious east.'”
Describe the some of the representations of the East that you have seen in films or
on popular TV shows. In your opinion, do these representations intensify the hold of
the “demonology of the mysterious east”? How so, or how not? What “internal
consistencies” can you identify?
Question #3: In our excerpts from Chasing the Monsoons, Frater paints a depressing
picture of England while offering plenty of praise for India. He works to show the
difference between the two nations, and it seems he does so in order to show his
love for India. Is Frater's text still Orientalist? Or is it something else, since it takes
the values of Orientalism (i.e., Europe on top) and reverses them?
On Heat & Dust up to p. 36:
Many of the characters we've met by page 36 have strong feelings about the other
people in their lives. These feelings often come down to desire or repulsion.
Concentrate on one character, and ask yourself how he or she determines who to
desire and who to loathe. Who, that is, is that character's us, and who is their them?
How does that character relate to them?
Describe the mechanics of one of the us/them relationships we've encountered so
far in the book, and quote from the book to support your claim. I will be looking for
specific claims backed by appropriate quoted evidence.
On Heat & Dust up to p. 78:
In today’s reading (pp. 36-78) we saw the tension between Douglas and Olivia start
to increase. Please write about their first major disagreement, which was on the
practice of suttee. What is each of their positions on this question? How would Trin
Minh-Ha weigh in on this question? What in "Not You/Like You" lead you to believe
this? Provide quotes and be specific. Finally, do you agree with Minh-Ha? Do you
personally think that either Douglas or Olivia is taking an ethically superior position?
Why? Are your reasons for feeling the way that you do identical to Douglas/Olivia’s
reasons? If not, how do you think their reasons differ from your own? Again, please
strive for clarity in your writing.
On Heat & Dust up to p. 155:
Again and again throughout her novel, Jhabvala creates parallels between
characters. The most obvious is between Miss Rivers and Olivia, however other
parallels also exist. Some possibilities include: Inder Lal & the Nawab; the Begum and
Inder Lal’s mother; Ritu and Sandy; Sandy or Ritu and Olivia; Chid and Harry (or
perhaps Douglas?); Dr. Saunders & Dr. Gopal. These matches are not perfect, of
course, and often in their imperfections interesting observations can be made.
Please choose and analyze any parallel relationship in the novel. How are these two
characters similar? How are they different? What is implied by their difference?
Select passages from the book to support your analysis.
Bird or Landscape: On Heat & Dust up to 182:
p. 92, 93: Bird (“Of course… was a snake”) or Landscape (“She could see…to Khatm):
Write a short analysis (that is, make the implicit explicit) for one of these passages.
Include evidence to support your analysis.
What happens in Bremgarten?: On Journey to the East, 29-32)
Identify strands (internal consistencies) and name their connecting logic. Identify
binaries in this passage as well, even if they’re only implied. Select one strand and
one binary and, in paragraph format (i.e. not just bullets), discuss how that strand or
binary sheds light on the Journey to the East (the thing, not necessarily the novella).
Nihilism or Idealism: Choose one question on JTTE, Ch. 4
Question 1: Analysis of nihilism, ego, and psychologists, with Said or Minh Ha in
Upon committing to seek out Leo, our narrator muses that “It is possible that the
practitioners and psychologists who attribute all human action to egoistic desires are
right.” Re-read this entire paragraph (p. 61-62) and consider whether or not you
believe those psychiatrists could be correct, and that maybe there are no altruistic
actions? Basing your response on logic, on Said or Minh Ha (who wrote respectively
that the Orient was a European creation and that the Other is a byproduct of the
creation of Self), and on personal experience.
Question 2: Rhetorical Analysis of Leo, with Said or Minh Ha in mind.
On pages 65-77, our narrator finally sees Leo, whose absence from the narrator’s life
led him to abandon the Journey to the East and eventually to despair. You might say
that our narrator has idealized Leo. What can we learn about the narrator’s idea of
the East from his description of Leo? Look for strands, binaries, and Said’s “internal
consistencies.” Does Said’s understanding of the Orient or Minh Ha’s understanding
of the search for an identity offer any insight into the narrator’s vexing problem in
this chapter? Have you ever idealized anyone? What problems were caused by that
[according to my notes, that's it—but if anyone rememebers anything else or has
anything else in their notes, please let me know! -js]
Author Said, Edward W
Title Orientalism / Edward W. Said Imprint New York : Vintage Books,
NOTICE: This material may be protected by
Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S. Code)
Vintage Books Edition, October 1979
Copyright © 1978 by Edward W. Said Afterword copyright © 1994 by Edward
W. Said All rights reserved under International and Pan-American
Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States of America by Random
House, Inc., New York, and in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited,
Toronto Originally published by Pantheon Books, A Division of
Random House, Inc., in November 1978. Library of Congress Cataloging in
Said, Edward W.
Orientalism. Includes bibliographical references and index. 1. Asia—Foreign
opinion, Occidental. 2. Near East-Foreign opinion, Occidental. 3. Asia-Study
and teaching. 4. Near East--Study and teaching. 5. Imperialism. 6. East and
West. I. Title. DS12.524 1979 950'.07'2 79-10497
ISBN 0-394-74067-X Manufactured in the United States of America
3579C864 Cover: Jean-Léon Gérôme, The Snake Charmer (detail),
courtesy of the Sterling and Francine Clark
Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts.
- Edward W. Said
Since this copyright page cannot accommodate all the permissions
acknowledgments, they are to be found
on the following two pages.
Vintage Books A Division of Random House
On a visit to Beirut during the terrible civil war of 1975-1976 a French journalist
wrote regretfully of the gutted downtown area that "it had once seemed to
belong to ... the Orient of Chateau briand and Nerval.” He was right about the
place, of course, especially so far as a European was concerned. The Orient was
almost a European invention, and had been since antiquity a place of romance,
exotic beings, haunting memories and landscapes, re markable experiences. Now
it was disappearing; in a sense it had happened, its time was over. Perhaps it
seemed irrelevant that Orientals themselves had something at stake in the process,
that even in the time of Chateaubriand and Nerval Orientals had lived there, and
that now it was they who were suffering; the main thing for the European visitor
was a European representation of the Orient and its contemporary fate, both of
which had a privileged communal significance for the journalist and his French
Americans will not feel quite the same about the Orient, which for them is
much more likely to be associated very differently with the Far East (China and
Japan, mainly). Unlike the Americans, the French and the British–less so the
Germans, Russians, Spanish, Portuguese, Italians, and Swiss have had a long
tradition of what I shall be calling Orientalism, a way of coming to terms with
the Orient that is based on the Orient's special place in European Western
experience. The Orient is not only adjacent to Europe; it is also the place of
Europe's greatest and richest and oldest colonies, the source of its
civilizations and languages, its cultural contestant, and one of its deepest and
most recurring_imagesof_the(Other. Y In addition, the Orient has helped to
define Europe (or the West)
as its contrasting image, idea, personality, experience. Yet none of 7 this Orient
is merely imaginative. The Orient is an integral part of
European material civilization and culture. Orientalism expresses and
represents that part culturally and even ideologically as a mode of discourse
with supporting institutions, vocabulary, scholarship, imagery, doctrines, even
colonial bureaucracies and colonial styles. In contrast, the American
understanding of the Orient will seem considerably less dense, although our
recent Japanese, Korean, and Indochinese adventures ought now to be creating
a more sober, more realistic “Oriental” awareness. Moreover, the vastly
expanded American political and economic role in the Near East (the Middle
East) makes great claims on our understanding of that Orient.
It will be clear to the reader (and will become clearer still throughout the many
pages that follow) that by Orientalism I mean several things, all of them, in my
opinion, interdependent. (The most readily accepted designation for
Orientalism is an academic one, and indeed the label still serves in a number of
academic institutions. Anyone who teaches, writes about, or researches the
Orient—and this applies whether the person is an anthropologist, sociologist,
historian, or philologist-either in its specific or its gen eral aspects, is an
Orientalist, and what he or she does is Orien talism. Compared with Oriental
studies or area studies, it is true that the term Orientalism is less preferred by
specialists today, both because it is too vague and general and because it
conpotesthe high-handed executive attitude of nineteenth-century and early
twentieth-century European colonialism. Nevertheless books are written and
congresses held with the Orient” as their main focus, with the Orientalist in his
new or old guise as their main authority. The point is that even if it does not
survive as it once did, Orien talism lives on academically through its doctrines
and theses about the Orient and the Oriental.
Related to this academic tradition, whose fortunes, transmigra tions,
specializations, and transmissions are in part the subject of - this study, is a
more general meaning for Orientalism. Orientalism
is a style of thought based upon an ontological and epistemological distinction
made between “the Orient" and (most of the time) “the Occident.", Thus a very
large mass of writers, among whom are poets, novelists, philosophers, political
theorists, economists, and im perial administrators, have accepted the basic
distinction between East and West as the starting point for elaborate theories,
epics, novels, social descriptions, and political accounts concerning the
Orient, its people, customs, “mind,” destiny, and so on. This Orien talism can
accommodate Aeschylus, say, and Victor Hugo, Dante and Karl Marx. A little
later in this introduction I shall deal with the methodological problems one
encounters in so broadly con strued a “field" as this.
The interchange between the academic and the more or less imaginative
meanings of Orientalism is a constant one, and since the late eighteenth century
there has been a considerable, quite disciplined—perhaps even regulated-traffic
between the two. Here I come to the third meaning of Orientalism, which is
something more historically and materially defined than either of the other *
two. Taking the late eighteenth century as a very roughly defined
starting point Orientalism can be discussed and analyzed as the corporate
institution for dealing with the Orient---dealing with it by making statements
about it, authorizing views of it, describing :: it, by teaching it, settling it, ruling
over it: in short, Orientalism as a Western style for dominating, restructuring,
and having au- ! thority over the Orient. I have found it useful here to employ
Michel Foucault's notion of a discourse, as described by him in ;
The Archaeology of Knowledge and in Discipline and Punish, to identify
Orientalism. My contention is that without examining Orientalism as a
discourse one cannot possibly understand the enormously systematic discipline
by which European culture was able to manage—and even produce—the
Orient politically, socio logically, militarily, ideologically, scientifically, and
imaginatively during the post-Enlightenment period. Moreover, so authoritative
a position did Orientalism have that I believe no one writing, think ing, or
acting on the Orient could do so without taking account of the limitations on
thought and action imposed by Orientalism. In brief, because of Orientalism
the Orient was not (and is not) a free subject of thought or action. This is not to
say that Orientalism unilaterally determines what can be said about the Orient,
but that it is the ...
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