Sarasins and Franks: perceptions of self and the other in 12th-15th century literature Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Nadhiri, Aman Asili Ya
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • Sarasins and Franks examines the ways in which European Christians and Mediterranean Muslims portrayed one another in purportedly learned works dealing with geography and ethnography, as well as in popular works of fiction and non-fiction. Using Edward Said's concept of the Other, this dissertation explores the evolving ways in which Eastern and Western societies responded to one another, and attempts to understand the manner in which medieval Mediterranean Muslims and European Christians developed the idea of the Other in response to contact with a different culture, first in their learned communities, and then in subsequent popular works, arguing that each society developed a concept of the Other that they used seriously and imaginatively to represent one another. Chapter One begins with an exploration of the European concept of the Sarasin from the Late Antique/Early Medieval period to the fourteenth century, with a particular focus on scientific texts, tracing the rise of the Sarasin from a peripheral figure to a cultural and religious threat to Christian Europe. Chapter Two then proceeds to a discussion of the representation of the Sarasin in popular Western European works of the time. The dissertation then turns to the Mediterranean Muslim construction of the Frank, or European Christian, beginning with a discussion of the Frank as he was imagined within the Muslim learned community, examining the appearance and development of the Frank in the medieval Muslim consciousness from the 10th-14th centuries, as Christian Europeans moved from the margins of the Muslim world-view to a more prominent position. Finally, the dissertation addresses the Muslim experience of the Crusades, and subsequently, their experience with Western European Crusaders. This dissertation explores the ways in which one society responds to another which is culturally and religiously different, in the learned and popular circles, using the medieval European Christian and Mediterranean Muslim worlds as examples. It argues for the need to incorporate diverse voices into discussions of identity, advocates for equal representation of the Othered in such discussions, and recognizes that the answers to questions of otherness are ultimately dependent upon various and multiply dialogic precepts of culture, ethnicity and religion.
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  • In Copyright
  • Wittig, Joseph S.
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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