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Idols in the East


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About the Author

Suzanne Conklin Akbari is Professor of English and Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto. She is author of Seeing through the Veil: Optical Theory and Medieval Allegory, editor of Marco Polo and the Encounter of East and West, and medieval volume editor for The Norton Anthology of World Literature.


"Akbari's wide~ranging and ambitious book examines portrayals of the Saracens and the Orient in texts of diverse nature written in Latin and European vernaculars between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries... It will become essential reading for all who wish to understand the place of the Orient and the Saracen in later medieval thought."-John Tolan, Journal of Religion (January 2011) "Provocative yet never overreaching, as compelling as it is meticulously researched, this groundbreaking book now stands as the best treatment of Islam in the medieval Christian imagination that we possess. It will not be easily superseded."-American Historical Review "In Idols in the East, Suzanne Conklin Akbari writes a prehistory of Orientalism. In order to consider the possible contours of a medieval Orientalism, Akbari analyzes a wide range of primary and secondary sources. By focusing on texts that represented Muslims and also on texts that structured a cosmology where Muslims and Islam could fit within a Christian worldview, the book provides a conceptual narrative."-Speculum "Idols in the East is an excellent as well as a timely book. Suzanne Conklin Akbari's assessments of the primary and secondary sources that come under her scrutiny are judicious, insightful, and fair-minded. Above all, Idols in the East makes clear how wide a range of evidence there is for a discourse of medieval Orientalism and how such a discourse might be understood in the present."-Iain Macleod Higgins, University of Victoria, author of Writing East "Idols of the East recuperates a lost orientalism and a history of oriental power dropped from the famous Orientalism of Edward Said: for the historical power and cultural significance of the Islamic East, Suzanne Conklin Akbari argues, has been dramatically underemphasized. Akbari carefully unpacks medieval practices of mapping the East, representations of Judaism and Islam, conflations of ethnic and religious terminology, and iconic figurations of the Saracen. Her book reaches beyond medieval studies to furnish an account of orientalism's prehistory that all postcolonialists should read: highly recommended."-David Wallace, Judith Rodin Professor, University of Pennsylvania

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