A Mosaic of Misunderstanding: Occident, Orient, and Facets of Mutual Misconstrual

by Julia Szołtysek (Author)
©2016 Monographs 212 Pages
Series: Literary and Cultural Theory, Volume 47


The book investigates relations between the ‘East’ and ‘West’ which have been forming and evolving from the Enlightenment until the present times. On the basis of material covering a selection of American, British and Turkish literature, as well as examples of Western Orientalist painting and musical (operatic) illustrations of analysed issues, the study aims to usher in a deeper and more nuanced understanding of post/colonial phenomena and their broader socio-cultural implications. The work attempts to accentuate the resonances and dissonances between various arts and disciplines, with the view to illuminating the organic nature of both inter- and intra-cultural relationships. The rationale behind such an orientation in research and methodology has not been to arrive at a final eclectic perspective, but rather, to promote a more comprehensive and diverse approach towards the ‘Other.’

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Images
  • Acknowledgments
  • Bibliographical Note
  • Prelude
  • Chapter One: Of Mutual Threats – 9/11 Re/Considered
  • Introduction
  • History caught red-handed: towards the emergence of ‘literature of terror’
  • Home, Hearth, and Horror: Don DeLillo’s Falling Man
  • The Ethnic Exception Clause: Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist
  • Zipping up the sleeping bag of oneself: Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
  • Memorializing – Museum (at) Work
  • Chapter Two: Of Orhan Pamuk’s Delightful Obsessions
  • Introduction
  • Love’s Labour’s Lost? Triangles and Compulsions
  • Catalogues and collections: passion for the commonplace
  • Chapter Three: Of Temptations Lady Mary Discovered, and Shared with Others
  • Introduction
  • ‘Tis just as ‘tis with you? Mediating cultural difference
  • Dialogue inter artes
  • Post-Scriptum: Of Promises and New Beginnings
  • Appendices
  • Interviews with Erdem Erdoğan and Elijah Moshinsky on Die Entführung aus dem Serail
  • Works Cited
  • Index

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List of Images

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The present project would not have materialized into its final state, had it not been for the support and assistance granted me by many institutions throughout the process of research and writing between the years 2009–2014. Along the way, I have consistently remained the taker in the exchange.

I am grateful to the John F. Kennedy Institute for North-American Studies of the Freie Universität Berlin for granting me a four-week research fellowship at the JFKI Library in Berlin in 2011, during which the foundations for the present project were laid. At roughly the same time, the University of Wrocław in Poland offered me two successive research grants which helped me with many international trips, sponsoring my participation in conferences and congresses in Europe, Asia, and Africa. In 2011, the Foundation for Polish Science allotted me a Conference Stipend thanks to which I could take part in the 14th EACLALS Triennial Conference held at the Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, Turkey, a trip co-funded by an EACLALS/ABES Eastern European Scholarship, which I had the honour of receiving. I also had the good luck to be recognised by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education for my research and academic performance during the first three years of my doctoral studies at the University of Wrocław, in acknowledgment of which I was granted a generous stipend in 2012. The University of Wrocław has significantly supported me up to the final stages of work on the present project, sparing me the distracting task of seeking material support on a corporate basis, for which I remain continuously grateful.

It is one thing to esteem the essential institutional help; it is quite another to acknowledge the personal kindness and goodwill of individuals that make the institutions as remarkable as they are. First and foremost, my gratitude goes to Prof. dr hab. Zbigniew Białas, Chair of the Department of Postcolonial Studies and Travel Writing at the Institute of English Cultures and Literatures, University of Silesia, Poland, an all-time mentor. To have such a research supervisor is a rare privilege and an honour that I only now begin fully to comprehend. Inspiring, supportive, and critical, Professor Białas is to be credited with encouraging me to look beyond, beneath, and into the surface of things, and rise to unbeatable-seeming challenges, thus leading me to overcome my own weaknesses and to accomplish feats originally only timidly imagined. I consider myself lucky to have had the chance to learn and draw inspiration from this distinguished scholar and writer. ← 9 | 10 →

I would also like to express my deep appreciation to Dr. Katarzyna Nowak–McNeice of the University of Wrocław, for having triggered the original ‘spark’ of my academic interests and pursuits, and for unfailingly helping me to keep it alive and bright through times good and better. I am in debt to Dr. Nowak–McNeice for having introduced me to the maze of intricacies of academic practice.

A very special “thank you” goes to my big brother, Dr. hab. Mikołaj Szołtysek, P.D., who has been my role model for what the life of an academic should be like, and, as all big brothers should but not many actually rise to the challenge, has always lent me his protective shoulder. He is also to be credited with providing the specific direction my own interests – scholarly, musical, and cultural – have assumed.

During two fruitful and stimulating research stays at the John F. Kennedy Institute for North-American Studies I relied on the assistance of Prof. Dr. Ulla Haselstein who was my kind patron on both occasions, in 2011 and 2012. My work at the JFKI Library would not have gone so smoothly or been so pleasant and comfortable had it not been for the support offered by Ms. Angelika Krieser, Deputy Librarian, who provided me with sound practical knowledge on the functioning of a library so extensive as the JFKI Library, and who took care of my creature comforts by allotting me a convenient study place with a view over the Institute’s peaceful backyard, and who helped me solve a number of pressing practical matters.

While working on what has become Chapter II of the present study, I stumbled upon obstacles which I could not have overcome had it not been for Professor Sarah LeFanu’s kindness and disinterested help involving such time-consuming tasks as rummaging through attics in search of pieces of information that I could not go on without, copying them and posting to Poland. For the visually attractive shape of the project I am greatly indebted to the Royal Baths Museum – The Palace on the Isle in Warsaw, in particular to Ms. Izabela Zychowicz, Curator and Head of the Museum Centre, who shared with me her knowledge of the Royal Collection of Paintings exhibited in the Palace on the Isle and gave me a royal tour of the premises. Jean-Étienne Liotard’s painting A Woman in Turkish Dress appears here by the Royal Baths Museum’s kind permission.

Chapter III has been greatly enriched by interviews with two important figures of the international operatic scene. I am grateful to Dr. Elijah Moshinsky, opera and theatre director with such productions to his name as the 2000 film Mozart in Turkey, the 2012 Otello for the Metropolitan Opera HD Live series, and a number of Shakespeare plays directed for the BBC televised series, who found the time to respond at length and in depth to my amateur questions pertaining to Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail. My thanks go also to Ms. Allana Sheard of Opera ← 10 | 11 → Australia for acting as an intermediary between myself and Dr. Moshinsky. For the other interview I am indebted to Mr. Erdem Erdoğan, Turkey’s leading tenor recently engaged at the Izmir State Opera and Ballet House, who – between singing Belmonte in Izmir and Rodolfo in Mersin – provided me with extensive answers to my opera-enthusiast-questions, for which I humbly say, çok ama çok teşekkür ederim sevgili arkadaşım. Invaluable help in moving back and forth between English and Turkish has been granted me by a dear friend of mine, Dr. Reyhan Özer Taniyan, Assistant Professor at Nigde University, Turkey – but for her kind-heartedness and linguistic expertise much of the Turkish-language material would have been lost. Sana çok minnettarım, kalbim ve gönlüm her zaman senin yanında!

Last but by no means least, appreciation is due to my dog, Koski, for keeping me reasonably fit throughout the entire process of research and writing, which – though intense – was for the most part a sedentary endeavor.

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Bibliographical Note

This study is the outcome of intense research conducted between the years 2009 and 2014. Some parts were originally presented at several international conferences which provided apt occasions for the subsequent revising, deepening and development of the ideas that have finally found their way into the present project.

Fragments of Chapter One were presented in various forms and under different titles at five conferences held between 2012 and 2014: in September 2012 at the 11th Conference of the European Society for the Study of English (ESSE) organized at the Boğaziçi University, in Istanbul, Turkey, and Grievings International Conference organized by the University of Silesia, Poland, in Ustroń; in November 2012 at the Reading Readers International Conference of the Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey; in October 2013 at the Third International BAKEA Symposium of Western Cultures and Literatures held at the Gaziantep University in Gaziantep, Turkey; and in May 2014 at the International Conference Representing, (De)Constructing and Translating Borderlands co-organized in Krasnogruda, Poland, by the University of Białystok, Poland, Warsaw University, and the Borderlands Foundation. The result of these various presentations was the essay “They call this ‘organic shrapnel’: Violent Closeness Between ‘Victims’ and ‘Perpetrators’ in Don DeLillo’s Falling Man, and Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” published in the collection Culture and the Rites/Rights of Grief, edited by Zbigniew Białas et al. (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013, pp. 108–123).


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2016 (August)
East and West paintings music postcolonial phenomena intracultural relationships intercultural relationships the Other
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2016, 212 S., 12 s/w Abb.

Biographical notes

Julia Szołtysek (Author)

Julia Szołtysek completed her doctoral dissertation at the University of Wrocław, Poland. She currently lectures at the University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland. Her academic interests include literary and artistic representations of the Middle East, travel discourses, racial/ethnic theories, and opera studies.


Title: A Mosaic of Misunderstanding: Occident, Orient, and Facets of Mutual Misconstrual
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214 pages