English and Modern Languages


Master of Arts (MA)


Emily Heady

Primary Subject Area

Literature, English; Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies; Anthropology, Cultural


Bell, Drower, Orientalism, Postcolonialism, Said, Stark, Other


Critical and Cultural Studies | English Language and Literature | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Reading and Language | Social and Cultural Anthropology


Although postcolonial criticism has run its course for thirty years, a fresh look at Edward Said's Orientalism offers insight into how Orientalism functions in the writings of three British dames. Gertrude Bell in The Desert and the Sown, Freya Stark in The Southern Gates of Arabia, and E.S. Drower in The Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran, however, challenge Said's theory. Their writing raises questions about how gender alters the discourse about the Other, and whether Said essentializes the Occident. Bell, Stark, and Drower serve as case studies in which to analyze the politically and rhetorically complex interactions between the West and the East at the end of the Colonial period. Over time, these women moved from approaching the Other with superior attitudes and a focus on otherness to developing a sympathetic understanding and greater appreciation of the similarities between the West and the East.