The Dialectics of Orientalism in Early Modern  Europe, 1492-1700
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, October 7-8,  2011

In early modern Europe, discourses on and images  of the Orient and Islam are inextricably tied to the rise of national  consciousness and the formation of a European identity as several Western  states were striving for imperial supremacy. The goal of this international  and interdisciplinary conference is to explore the dialectical function of  early modern Orientalism for the creation of different notions of a collective  self: national, European, and/or imperial.

We invite proposals  for contributions that analyze the multiple uses of an imaginary Islam and  Orient and compare at least two national orientalist discourses and/or the  intersection of nation-building and the invention of Europeanness catalyzed  through these discourses. Beyond being simplifications, what role do  stereotypes play in the complex and often contradictory rhetorical dynamics  that served to articulate, implement and promote both internal policies and  supranational endeavors of imperial supremacy? To whom are these stereotypical  representations addressed and through what media? In what instances does the  creation of a fictive homogeneous nation lead to the conceptual “islamization”  of minority groups? Is there a competition among European nation-states for  the hegemony in the representation of the Oriental, and in which ways does it  feed into a transnational rivalry for imperial power? What does the comparison  of different national accounts of Orientalism reveal about the supposed  homogeneity of the stereotypical Muslim?

Proposals for  presentations of 20-25 min that address any of these or related questions will  be evaluated by an interdisciplinary organizing committee. The conference  language is English.

Please send a 250-500 word abstract by  November 15 to , along with information about your professional affiliation and a brief cv or  a reference to your personal website.

For more information, visit or contact the organizers:

Marcus Keller (Department of  French):

Javier Irigoyen-García (Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese):