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20th Century Literary Theory:Orientalism as a tool of colonial discourse - Essay Example

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In the history of twentieth century literary theory,colonial discourse has an important role.Orientalism can be comprehended as the reproduction of various vital elements of the Eastern cultures in the West by writers, designers and artists …
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20th Century Literary Theory:Orientalism as a tool of colonial discourse
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Download file to see previous pages Significantly, Orientalism in literary theory may be understood as Said's evaluation and critique of the set of beliefs and it has become one of the most important backgrounds for postcolonial studies and discourses. Said, in his work, brings out the inaccuracies of the assumptions as it questions various paradigms of thought which have been accepted on individual, academic, and political levels. It is important to understand the Orient as signifying a system of representations framed by political forces that brought the Orient into Western learning, Western consciousness, and Western empire. "The Orient exists for the West, and is constructed by and in relation to the West. It is a mirror image of what is inferior and alien ('Other') to the West. Orientalism is 'a manner of regularized writing, vision, and study, dominated by imperatives, perspectives, and ideological biases ostensibly suited to the Orient.' It is the image of the 'Orient' expressed as an entire system of thought and scholarship." Therefore, Edward Said made remarkable contribution to the understanding of the image of the 'Orient' expressed in the Western writing, vision, and study which, in turn, helps the progress of literary theory concerning colonial discourse. In short, the relevance of orientalism in the twentieth century literary criticism as a tool of colonial discourse cannot be questioned and Edward Said is the chief proponent of this method of analysing the true image of the 'Orient' in the Western literary theory.
In order to realize orientalism as a tool of colonial discourse in the twentieth century literary criticism it is essential to comprehend the concept of orientalism as proposed by Edward Said. The concept of orientalism was in air much before him and it was a term more widely used in the 19th century art history. It was closely associated with the works of French artists who in this period mostly produced works that depended on the Orientalist ideas and concepts for their subject matter, colour and style. However, in his controversial work Orientalism, the 20th century scholar Said provided a new twist in the earlier meanings of the term orientalism and, for him, the term described the Western tradition of understanding the East which served merely the purposes of them. In other words, the term referred to academic and artistic traditions of the West which held intimidating and deprecatory views of the East. It suggests a prejudiced understanding of the East by the Western scholars and intellectuals and here the outsider interpretations of Eastern cultures and peoples were prevalent. Unlike the other scholars, Said was disapproved this tradition of the West. According to him, the French and British, unlike the Americans, shared a long tradition of understanding the Eastern cultures and peoples with an 'outsider' perspective and he terms it Orientalism which is a way of coming to terms with the Orient that is based on the Orient's special place in European Western Experience. He clarifies the meaning of the term in his book and he specifies 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 ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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