Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Fall 2013

Department 1



This paper specifically discusses the cultural attitudes that made writing fully realized Muslim characters problematic for Western authors during the 19th and 20th centuries and also how, through their writing, certain authors perpetuated these attitudes. The discussed authors and works include William Beckford's Vathek, Lord Byron's poem “The Giaour,” multiple short stories from the periodical collection Oriental Stories, one of Hergé's installments of The Adventures of Tintin, and E.M. Hull's novel The Sheik. Three “types” of Muslim characters emerge in these works: the good, the bad, and the white. All three reflect Western attitudes towards the East as a place full of indolence, luxury, and childish vice. This paper draws heavily on Edward Said's notions of Orientalism but focuses more specifically on how Western authors wield their power and how readers can be more active in questioning stereotypes found in literature.


English Honors Thesis