By Hsu-Ming Teo
The Sheik—E. M. Hull's best-selling novel that grew to become a wildly well known movie starring Rudolph Valentino—kindled "sheik fever" around the Western global within the Twenties. A craze for all issues romantically "Oriental" swept via style, movie, and literature, spawning imitations and parodies with out quantity. whereas that fervor has principally subsided, stories of ardour among Western girls and Arab males proceed to enthrall readers of trendy mass-market romance novels. during this groundbreaking cultural historical past, Hsu-Ming Teo strains the literary lineage of those desolate tract romances and ancient bodice rippers from the 12th to the twenty-first century and explores the gendered cultural and political reasons that they've served at quite a few old moments.
Drawing on "high" literature, erotica, and renowned romance fiction and flicks, Teo examines the altering meanings of Orientalist tropes corresponding to crusades and conversion, abduction by way of Barbary pirates, sexual slavery, the terror of renegades, the Oriental despot and his harem, the determine of the robust Western concubine, and fantasies of get away from the harem. She analyzes the impression of imperialism, decolonization, sexual liberation, feminism, and American involvement within the heart East on women's Orientalist fiction. Teo means that the increase of female-authored romance novels dramatically remodeled the character of Orientalism since it feminized the discourse; made white girls crucial as manufacturers, shoppers, and imagined actors; and revised, reversed, or collapsed the binaries inherent in conventional analyses of Orientalism.