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Vicky Morrisroe, “‘Eastern History with Western Eyes’: E. A. Freeman, Islam and Orientalism’

2010 October 24
E.A. Freeman in his study at Oxford

E.A. Freeman in his study at Oxford. Image from http://www.hull.ac.uk/oldlib/archives/paragon/1997/anatomy.html

In her forthcoming article  in JVC issue 16.1, Vicky Morrisroe explores representations of Islam in the work of the Victorian historian E.A. Freeman. Freeman’s two obscure Oriental volumes emphasize the evils and barbarism of Muslim societies to demonstrate that Britain’s support of the Ottoman Empire was misguided.

This article foregrounds Freeman’s fear of the threat posed to Euro-Christendom by Islam and suggests that he was not, as is often assumed, a confident proponent of Western progress. In so doing, it highlights the complexity of nineteenth-century views of Islam, and questions the extent to which accounts of Oriental ‘otherness’ empowered European self-identities.

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