Book Review: Creating East and West Nancy

Pages: 5 (1478 words)  ·  Style: Chicago  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Drama - World  ·  Buy This Paper

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] To be fair to Bisaha, the book largely achieves her stated goals, which do not actually include an analysis of contemporary events in light of Renaissance developments. Instead, her primary goal seems to be a reevaluation of contemporary understandings of the constructed East-West dichotomy, and as multiple reviewers have noted, she seems particularly interesting in challenging, or at least expanding, Edward Said's notion of Orientalism.

Though the book does not really address Said's theory explicitly, the effect of Bisaha's research is to challenge the notion that an East-West, barbarism-civilization dichotomy arose as a result of colonialism. In this, she succeeds, because her analysis of European humanist writings convincingly demonstrates a marked rhetorical and ideological shift following the fall of Constantinople. Thus, it no wonder that reviewers have received the book favorably, and have particularly noted its robust textual evidence and critical analysis.

The more interesting critical response to the book have been reviewers problems with it. Though not substantial -- one reviewer only has a "small quibble -- these critiques are interesting precisely because they do not question the underlying assumption that a book of historical and textual analysis need not try especially hard to relate its research to contemporary events, even when contemporary events seem to in need of historical contextualizing.

The "small quibble" noted above was that Bisaha occasionally attempts to draw conclusions regarding "the openness and tolerance of Ottoman society" rather than exclusively discuss the rhetorical framing of this society by Europeans independent of "any relationship between humanist rhetoric and the reality of Muslim and Christian relations."

A different reviewer actually had almost the opposite complaint, noting that "one might wonder at suggestions that every culture is essentially equal and that there is no evil that should be resisted without first becoming perfect oneself."

While these complaints are legitimate, they ultimately focus on tangential elements of Bisaha's book, and overlook the fact that the book lacks any substantial consideration of how the Renaissance response to the fall of Constantinople is the source "of Western belief in its cultural superiority over the rest of the world."

Aside from an almost cursory mention of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks and the imperialist notion of a "clash of civilizations," Bisaha seems uninterested in discussing contemporary events and beliefs other than in an extremely broad manner.

Even the epilogue, which is ostensibly concerned with "The Renaissance Legacy," deals more with how the events described in the book affected the rest of pre-21st century history than with their resonance on contemporary political events. Again, to be fair Bisaha's expertise and focus are obviously not concerned with contemporary events, but the almost self-evident connection between Bisaha's work and the most pressing political and cultural issues of today leaves the reader longing for a more substantial discussion. Had Creating East and West featured a more substantial discussion of the rhetorical forces at work today and their relation to the humanist rhetoric of the fifteenth century, Bisaha would have been able to transform her book from a well-researched, generally enjoyable look at a particular moment in historical development into a more crucial and arguably more influential examination of the larger-scale trends in human history and contemporary political action.

Bibliography

Bisaha, Nancy. Creating East and West: Renaissance Humanists and the Ottoman Turks.

Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004.

Dursteler, Eric. "Creating East and West: Renaissance Humanists and the Ottoman Turks."

Renaissance Quarterly 58, no. 3 (2005): 904-906.

Urban, W.L. "Creating East and West: Renaissance Humanists and the Ottoman Turks." Choice

42, no. 9 (2005): 1644.

Nancy Bisaha, Creating East and West: Renaissance Humanists and the Ottoman Turks (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004) 64.

Bisaha, Creating East and West, 64-67.

Bisaha, Creating East and West, 67.

Bisaha, Creating East and West, 102, 129.

Bisaha, Creating East and West, 172.

W.L. Urban, "Creating East and West: Renaissance Humanists and the Ottoman Turks," Choice 42, no. 9 (2005): 1644.

Eric Dursteler, "Creating East and West: Renaissance Humanists and the Ottoman Turks," Renaissance Quarterly 58, no. 3 (2005): 905.

Dursteler, "Creating East and West: Renaissance Humanists and the Ottoman Turks," 906.

Dursteler, "Creating East and West: Renaissance Humanists and the Ottoman Turks," 906.

Dursteler, "Creating East and West: Renaissance Humanists and the Ottoman Turks," 906.

Urban, "Creating East… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Creating East and West Nancy.  (2013, March 21).  Retrieved May 25, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/creating-east-west-nancy/5638167

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"Creating East and West Nancy."  Essaytown.com.  March 21, 2013.  Accessed May 25, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/creating-east-west-nancy/5638167.