The book is based on my PhD research, looking at how relationships between Christians and Muslims, east and west, are represented in popular romantic stories from the late medieval period and the twenty-first century.
This is the book's official blurb:
This book, the first full-length cross-period comparison of medieval and modern literature, offers cutting edge research into the textual and cultural legacy of the Middle Ages: a significant and growing area of scholarship.
At the juncture of literary, cultural and gender studies, and capitalizing on a renewed interest in popular western representations of the Islamic east, this book proffers innovative case studies on representations of cross-religious and cross-cultural romantic relationships in a selection of late medieval and twenty-first century Orientalist popular romances.
Comparing the tropes, characterization and settings of these literary phenomena, and focusing on gender, religion, and ethnicity, the study exposes the historical roots of current romance representations of the east, advancing research in Orientalism, (neo)medievalism and medieval cultural studies. Fundamentally, Representing Difference invites a closer look at medieval and modern popular attitudes towards the east, as represented in romance, and the kinds of solutions proposed for its apparent problems.
The abridged version (TL;DR):
I compare medieval and modern popular Orientalist fictional stories (including Harlequin Mills and Boon sheikh novels) featuring romantic relationships between Christians and Muslims, east and west, looking at how these relationships are made successful.
The book's table of contents is as follows:
- Romance in the East: An Introduction
- Chapter 1: Saracens and Sheikhs: Romance in Context (introducing the two literary genres)
- Chapter 2: Geographies of Fantasy: Exploring the Romance East (setting the scene - what is the world of the Orientalist romance like?)
- Chapter 3: "For you are a man and she is a maid": Gender and the East (about how gender identity is affected by the eastern world of the romance)
- Chapter 4: 'Neither Fish Nor Fowl": Representing Difference, Fabricating Sameness (about how these romances deal with religious and ethnic difference)
- Chapter 5: Romancing the Abduction Motif (about how gender and religion/ethnicity interact with the motif of abduction in these stories)
- Romance in the East: Conclusions
In addition, the book will have two appendices:
- Appendix 1: A list of Middle English Verse Romances containing Saracens
- Appendix 2: A list of Sheikh and Desert Romances Published in Britain by Mills & Boon, 1909-2009.