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Orientalist Art Reading List

Hey Gang,

In just under two weeks, I’ll be doing a digital workshop entitled, “Dancers in Orientalist Art.”   I’ve been asked by some of the attendees to provide a reading list ahead of the talk so that they can get a jump on some of the suggested readings.  Your wish is my command!  Here is a list of my essential reads on the subject.

Dancers in Orientalist Art
with Dawn Devine ~ Davina

Friday, July 26th
​5:00 PM PDT /  8:00 PM EDTRegistration includes attending Live Online + 45 Days Streaming Access
 $20

Reserve your seat

Women as Portrayed in Orientalist Painting by Lynne Thornton

This impressive book comes in two sizes.  In current print is this small pocket variety that I’ve included in the link.  There is also an out of print version in French, a hard-cover coffee-table book-sized edition that is very expensive on the collectors market.  The pocket-sized edition contains all the same text and in a smaller and more affordable package.  As the title indicates, the focus is on images of women and the various roles and scenes that painters choose.  I consider this book to be an essential read for anyone interested in a more feminist reading of Orientalist paintings.

Buy this essential read on Amazon.

Orientalism by Christine Peltre

This is the book I would choose to use as my primary textbook if I were currently teaching a full “Orientalism in Art” course.  This is an overview book, that will introduce to the broad topic of Orientalism in art. This book presents a nice balanced approach to a discussion of Orientalist art. This soft-covered but lavishly illustrated book includes a great collection of images to support the text.  If you are only going to have one book in your library devoted to the subject, this would be my recommendation.

Pick up your copy on Amazon.

Orientalism: History, Theory and the Arts by John MacKenzie

This book is a response to Edward Said’s book “Orientalism.” MacKenzie approaches the subject of Orientalism, but looking at the topic through the lens of Art History. But though it’s an art history book, there are only a few poor-quality black and white images, but lots of valuable analysis of the Orientalist painters.  Be prepared to look up colored images of the artists and works mentioned in the text.

Order a copy from Amazon

Orientalism by Edward W. Said

This groundbreaking work nearly single-handedly serves as the basis for postcolonial literary studies.  Written in 1978, the book was a close analysis of a carefully curated selection of western writers who traveled through the MENAT region.  Over the intervening 40 years, this book has been critiqued for its narrow scope and polarizing language.  If you choose to take on this title, be prepared for a very academic book geared towards a well-educated reader. 

Purchase a copy on Amazon.

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