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Reading the Other and Reading Ourselves: An Interpretive Study of Reviews on Bestsellers about Muslims

Angemeer, Alicia (2012) Reading the Other and Reading Ourselves: An Interpretive Study of Reviews on Bestsellers about Muslims. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Since September 11, 2001, Western readers have been turning to bestselling texts written by or about Muslims in their need to learn more about Muslims. These texts promise an insider’s view of predominantly Muslim countries and peoples and are informally influencing and educating many Western readers in their perceptions of Muslims because they are so widely read and discussed. In this study, I explore how Westerners are reading and interpreting the Muslim Other as portrayed in these bestsellers and how they are often unaware of the Orientalist lens through which they read and interpret the Other. I also consider how Westerners may read these texts more critically and responsibly.

I perform a conceptual analysis of how Western readers read and interpret the Muslim Other, as expressed through the “texts” of their reviews of bestsellers Reading Lolita in Tehran, The Kite Runner, and Three Cups of Tea. Using Edward Said’s (1978, 1993) postcolonial theoretical concept of Orientalism and employing postcolonial theorists who expand on Said’s concept to craft my theoretical frame though which I analyze these texts, I illuminate the texts’ problematics associated with representations of identity and otherness to show how their reading responses perpetuate negative, colonizing stereotypes of Muslims. I then bring in a second theoretical frame, reader response theory, to reinterpret my first analysis of their reading responses within the context of pedagogical challenges of teaching students to read the Other. In crafting this second theoretical frame I provide an added perspective of a poststructural consideration of the relationship between Self and Other and utilize the work of such theorists as Boler (1994), Burwell, Davis, and Taylor (2008), Felman and Laub (1992), Grobman (2007), Taylor (2007a, 2007b), Todd (2003), and Welch (2000), whose challenges to reveal contextualized reading practices and present more responsible approaches to reading are developed from cross-disciplinary discussions of reading the Other. I also explore the pedagogical implications of reading the Other, challenging the way in which reading the Other is currently approached in teaching multicultural literature in the elementary and secondary classroom.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGunzenhauser, Michaelmgunzen@pitt.eduMGUNZEN
Committee MemberGarman, Noreenngarman@pitt.eduNGARMAN
Committee MemberAndrade, Susansza@pitt.eduSZA
Committee MemberOtto,
Committee MemberThein,
Date: 29 August 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 7 May 2012
Approval Date: 29 August 2012
Submission Date: 1 August 2012
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 230
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Postcolonial Theory Reader Response Theory Edward Said Orientalism
Date Deposited: 29 Aug 2012 18:17
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:01


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