Course Description, Objectives, CPs and all that
In his last personal preface before his passing in 2003, Said describes neither the term 'Orient' nor the concept of the West as having any ontological stability. He further remarks that 'our East,' or 'our' Orient, becomes 'ours' to possess and direct. How aware are we of our status of domination? The concept/book Orientalism (1978) by Edward W. Said has shaped the postcolonial discourse in many ways. In fact, it may have shifted cultural, political, or social perception from a state of unconsciousness to consciousness. Watch this viral TikTok video as an example: https://vm.tiktok.com/ZT8JxUAQd/. Maybe this was not directly influenced by Said, but his passionate argumentation in his book makes cultural phenomena like this much more graspable. Since Said himself can be considered many things, such as a cultural scientist, philosopher, literary scientist, and so on, the methods and examples he offers represent what our subject is all about and therefore lead to different approaches to Orientalism. The addressed thoughts, examples, and issues will be exactly what this seminar revolves around. We will take a detailed look at his book Orientalism (that's why you should get it for this course) and the discourse surrounding the concept itself. Please acquire the book Orientalism by Edward W. Said.
Objectives – at the end of the semester, each student should be able to:
Define the concept of Orientalism
Critically engage with Said’s monograph Orientalism
Identify, understand and discuss the role played by Orientalism and imperialism in the development of concepts about classical study, culture and anthropology
Use the concept of Orientalism to analyze current phenomena
Critically explain the limits and potentials of Said’s perspective
Demonstrate good argumentation skills referring to the concepts discussed in class
CP, all that
Übung (3 CP) – options:
present (until chapter 3 20th December 2023) three central theses of Said in one specific chapter and argue shortly why you think that they are important. The findings will be discussed in class. After the discussion formulate a short response (about 1-2 pages) to one of the presented theses by Said. (solo)
send me your findings (until one day) before class and add a short comment to them
responses should point out strength and weakness of the theses, so:
find arguments to support his thesis or arguments against it
short case study presentations (starting 10th January 2024): Choose and present a case study and argue why it’s an example for Orientalism. Search for historic or current perspectives that represent your case study as such. (group work)
form groups a maximum of three people.
connect your case study to the aspects we discussed in chapters 1 & 2.
speaking time should be a maximum of 15-20 minutes
during your presentation: include questions about your case studies that will be discussed with our class
Seminar (4 CP): term paper (10-15 pages) – topic is to be discussed in a meeting
(zoom or personal) with me.
First: you can disagree with anyone (including myself). The topics this course will deal with might be controversial. I do not have to tell you that everyone has different perspectives on things, which might lead to heated debates. I consider these argumentative differences to be essential in any course. However, disagreements should be addressed respectfully and rationally.
Attendance and Preparation:
The aim of this course is quite easy: read the chapters and discuss them together. Therefore, I consider attendance to be important and would appreciate your regular attendance. I do understand though that semesters can be quite stressful and there is no compulsory attendance. If you encounter any issues and cannot attend, you are not required to send me a note or anything. I think that there is a simple solution for you missing a session: check moodle for the discussed theses/case studies and comment your own thoughts on them.
The course is structured and prepared in a way that even when it is not possible for you to read a chapter, you will still have the opportunity to engage with the central elements – since they will be prepared and presented – of the particular positions of Said in the course. Because I have decided to have a detailed look into the monograph, I find it self-evident that you will engage with the book.
Feedback is one crucial way to improve courses. I would appreciate if you address issues, ideas or also positive acknowledgment directly, so we can create a more functional work atmosphere for everyone.
Names & Pronouns:
In American and British universities, it is common practice for both students and lecturers to address each other by their first name. I am very open towards this and would also encourage to do so. However, it is no standard procedure at German universities. So, please just choose whatever method you feel comfortable with: Batıkağan or Mr. Pulat both work for me.
Everyone is free to decide on the names and pronouns they want to be addressed with. My pronouns are he/his. Please feel free to correct me when I address you incorrectly; if you are not comfortable sharing this info with everyone, feel free to tell me one-on-one. The same goes for anyone whose officially documented names in the RUB-system and the names they want to be addressed with are not identical; please, feel free to let me know and I‘ll address you accordingly.
- Kursleiter/in: Batikagan Pulat