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Desiring the east: a comparative study of Middle English romance and modern popular sheikh romance

Burge, Amy (2012) Desiring the east: a comparative study of Middle English romance and modern popular sheikh romance. PhD thesis, University of York.

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This thesis comparatively examines a selection of twenty-first century sheikh romances and Middle English romances from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries that imagine an erotic relationship occurring between east and west. They do so against a background of conflict, articulated in military confrontation and binary religious and ethnic division. The thesis explores the strategies used to facilitate the cross-cultural relationship across such a gulf of difference and considers what a comparison of medieval and modern romance can reveal about attitudes towards otherness in popular romance. In Chapter 1, I analyse the construction of the east in each genre, investigating how the homogenisation of the romance east in sheikh romance distances it from the geopolitical reality of those parts of the Middle East seen, by the west, to be "other". Chapter 2 examines the articulation of gender identity and the ways in which these romances subvert and reassert binary gender difference to uphold normative heterosexual relations. Chapter 3 considers how ethnic and religious difference is nuanced, in particular through the use of fabric, breaking down the disjunction between east and west. Chapter 4 investigates the way ethnicity, religion and gender affect hierarchies of power in the abduction motif, enabling undesirable aspects of the east to be recast. The key finding of this thesis is that both romance genres facilitate the cross-cultural erotic relationship by rewriting apparently binary differences of religion and ethnicity to create sameness. While the east is figured differently in Middle English and modern sheikh romance, the strategies they use to facilitate the cross-cultural erotic relationship are similar. The thesis concludes that the constancy of certain attitudes towards the east in both medieval and modern romance reveals a persistence of conservative values in representations of the east in romance.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Middle English romance, sheikh romance, Mills & Boon, Orientalism, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, religion, Middle East, geography, abduction, captivity, medievalism, representations of the east in popular culture
Academic Units: The University of York > Centre for Women's Studies (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.561076
Depositing User: Ms Amy Burge
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2012 09:27
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2016 13:01
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/3121

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