Orientalism and Visual Culture: Imagining Mesopotamia in Nineteenth-Century Europe

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9780521806572: Orientalism and Visual Culture: Imagining Mesopotamia in Nineteenth-Century Europe

Orientalism and Visual Culture is the first sustained analysis of historical exoticism in the nineteenth century. Supplementing the tools of art history with aspects of postcolonial theory, the work of the Frankfurt School, and reception theory, Frederick Bohrer examines the varied reception of the art of ancient Mesopotamia at the time of their archaeological discovery in England, France and Germany. He surveys the full range of visual culture of the time, from museum display, painting and sculpture, to fairs, jewelry, and illustrated magazines, among other media. The representations of Assyria and other ancient cultures are considered in their different national contexts and in connection with differences of class and gender, as well as media of representation. This study analyzes the visual logic of Imperialism, the boundaries of aesthetic evaluation, and the mediation of imagery within the complex forces at play in nineteenth-century Europe.

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Book Description:

Orientalism and Visual Culture is the first sustained analysis of historical exoticism in the nineteenth century. Bohrer surveys the full range of visual culture of the time, within the complex forces at play in nineteenth-century Europe.

Review:

"Bohrer's fascinating and illuminating study of the aesthetic reception of Mesopotamia in the nineteenth century and his understanding of the ultimate petrifaction of the "horizon of expectation" that eventually subsumed Mesopotamian discoveries provide an acute historiographic perspective on Mesopotamia's place in the intellectual and popular imagination that persists even today. It is thus important reading not just for scholars of nineteenth-century Europe and postcolonialism, but also for those interested in the development of the disciplines of Near Eastern studies and art history." - CAA Reviews, Marian Feldman, UC Berkeley

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