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1 SAND, SHEIKHS, AND SEX: ORIENTALISM, AUDIENCE RESPONSE, AND EXPRESSIONS OF A VERNACULAR I NTERNATIONAL R ELATIONS THROUGH DESERT ROMANCE NOVELS By CATHERINE JEAN A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2013
2 2013 Catherine Jean
3 To m y f amily
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I offer thanks to m y advisors Dr. T rysh Travis, Dr. Aida Hozic and Dr. Laura Sjoberg for their excellent advice and support. Dr. Travis has patiently guiding me through this journey from inception to completion. She is a mentor par excellance! Thank you to the readers I interviewed who grac iously lent me their time and opinions. I could not have completed this project without their interest and cooperation. Thanks go out to my girlfriends who reminded me to have fun. And, finally I thank my family for their sup port in numerous ways. I thank Hashem for picking up the extra slack with the childcare, to Liam and Zane for putting up with a mother who does uninteresting things like study on the weekends and to my parents, Jim and Carole Jean for babysitting, offering quiet writing spaces and bring ing me take out.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOW LEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 7 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 8 LIST OF ABBREVIAT IONS ................................ ................................ ............................. 9 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION: SAND, SHEIKHS AND SEX ................................ ...................... 12 2 MOVING BEYOND ORIENTALISM: CREATING SPACE FOR AUDIENCE RESPONSE ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 23 Orientalism and the Other ................................ ................................ ....................... 23 Critiques of Orientalism ................................ ................................ .................... 29 Desert Romance Scholarship ................................ ................................ ........... 33 Moving Toward Audience Response Studies and Orientalism ......................... 38 Audience Response Studies: Reader Response Criticism and British Cultural Studies ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 41 Reading the Romance ................................ ................................ ............................ 44 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 49 3 CONTESTING IMAGES: ORIENTALISM AND POST ORIENTALISM IN MODERN DESERT ROMANCE NOVELS ................................ .............................. 52 A Brief History of the Romance Novel Industry ................................ ....................... 55 Structure of Romance Novels ................................ ................................ ................. 57 The Sheik and Legacies of Middle East Representations ................................ ....... 61 Pre 9/11 Novels ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 66 Post 9/11 Novels ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 70 Changes in the Hero ................................ ................................ ........................ 71 Changes in Setting ................................ ................................ ........................... 74 Changes in Religious References ................................ ................................ .... 79 Changes in Cultura l Sensitivity ................................ ................................ ......... 79 The Desert Romance Novel ................................ ................................ .................... 80 A Closer Look at a Post Orientalist DR Novel ................................ ......................... 94 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 97 4 READING THE DESERT ROMANCE ................................ ................................ ... 1 00
6 Methodology ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 101 Who Are Romance Readers? ................................ ................................ ............... 104 Who Are Desert Romance Readers? ................................ ................................ ... 106 Observations from Amazon Comments ................................ ................................ 106 The Amazon Engages the Middle East ................................ ................................ 111 East and West: Moving beyond Difference toward Love ................................ ....... 113 Interviews ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 119 Interview with Serena ................................ ................................ ..................... 120 Interview with Pamela ................................ ................................ .................... 125 Interview with Brenda ................................ ................................ ..................... 128 Interview with Kristen ................................ ................................ ..................... 132 Interview with Cheryl ................................ ................................ ...................... 137 Interview with Dorrine ................................ ................................ ..................... 143 Interview Analysis ................................ ................................ ........................... 146 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 151 5 CONCLUSION: EXPRESSIONS OF A VERNACULAR INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 154 APPENDIX A POLLING DATA: AMERICANS FEELINGS ABOUT ISLAM/ MIDDLE EAST ....... 160 B 275 NOVEL SURVEY RESULTS ................................ ................................ ......... 164 C SPREADSHEET OF DESERT ROMANCE NOVELS ................................ ........... 166 D ROMANCE NOVEL COVERS ................................ ................................ .............. 176 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 177 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 183
7 LIST OF TABLES Table page 1 1 Number of Desert Romances published by decade ................................ ........... 69
8 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page A 1 American prejudice toward Islam/Middle East ................................ .................. 160 A 2 Islam most negatively viewed religion ................................ .............................. 161 A 3 Overall impression of Islam ................................ ................................ .............. 161 A 4 Little admired about Muslim world ................................ ................................ .... 162 A 5 Americans believe Muslim countries are prejudi ce against U.S. ...................... 163
9 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ARS Audience Response Studies DR Desert Romance IR International Relations ME Middle East U.S. United States
10 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the Uni versity of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts SAND, SHEIKHS AND SEX: ORIENTALISM, AUDIENCE RESPONSE AND EXPRESSIONS OF A VERNACULAR I NTERNATIONAL R ELATIONS THROUGH DESERT ROMANCE NOVELS By C atherine Jean August 2013 Chair: Trysh Travis Major: Scholarship on orientalism thus far focuses solely on the cultural products without analyzing the relationship between orientalist products and audiences. I find this to be a weaknes s in representational studies (including orientalism) as it is not the representation itself that imbues meaning, but the interaction between audience and text. I argue by including a udience analysis scholars will 1 ) have a more thorough understanding of h ow orientalist products work, 2 ) take individuals as agents who are not simply programmed into certain ways of thinking, but have the ability t o engage with representations, 3 potentially open up space for moving through the dilemma of self/other and the quagmire of orientalism. In this thesis I will analyze the relationship between orientalism and Audience Response Studies through D esert R omance novels and their readers. Through the texts I demonstrate the orientalist representations in D esert R omances are more complex than scholars have allowed. Through audience engagement I show that people, as individuals with agency, interpret orientalist texts in a variety of ways that at times
11 contra dict an orientalist reading and at times help individuals work through racist and problematic representations of the Middle East towards a more benign engagement. I recognize these readers are performing a type of international politics. Through their int eractions with the novels, they express concerns, fears, and desires about the Middle Eastern Other. In order to better understand what type of politics they are articulating, I believe I n eed to conduct more interviews with Desert Romances readers as well as possibly interacting with other audiences.
12 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION: SAND, SHEIKHS AND SEX It was late. The fireworks were over. Katar rested as Malik drove the hosted. Shafir pulled his wife across the long seat of the limousine into his Tomorrow they would return to Qasr Al Ward. Shafir planned to take Megan deep into the desert for a few nights of time alone. But tonight they would s pend in his city residence. Shafir started to laugh. living in the desert. I told them that I came to Dhahrar in search of that worry you? If it does, my ain The Untamed Sheik (2009) by Tessa Radley is a best selling Desert Romance (DR) novel, a sub genre of the romance novel which is the highest grossing and best
13 selling genre of books in the United States. 1 Defined primarily by the Arab male hero of (usually a fictitious country). Particularly in the years since 9/11, the subgenre has dramatically increased in popularity in the United States from 32 novels published in the 1990 s to 161 in the first decade of the 2000 s, a 500% increase. 2 This surge in popularity has occurred in a context in which polling data suggests American attitudes towards Islam/Arabs/the Middle East 3 are overwhelmingly negative or ambivalent. 4 That romance readers choose to read novels about romantic unions with Arab men at a tim e when the United States is involved in military operations in the Middle East and news about the Middle East is prevalent in the U.S. media, is a paradox that has not gone unnoticed. In academic and journalist articles (Evelyn Bach 1997, Jessica Taylor 2 003, Brian Whitaker 2006, Jarmakani 2010, Jarmakani 2011) authors from Gender Studies, tropes in the narratives. They suggest that DR novels perpetuate static and raci st 1 According to the Business of Consumer Book Publishing 2012 romance was the largest share o f the U.S. book sales in 2011 at 14.3% and 1.37 billion dollars in sales. While Desert Romances are only a very small fraction of the number of romances produced (in recent years roughly 20 per year), the increase in production is significant. 2 Although increases in publication begin around the year 2000, the significant jumps begin in 2002. 3 Despite the differences in the identifying markers of The Middle East, Arab, and Islam, these terms are often used interchangeably in U.S. popular culture. As I am primarily interested in the views of Americans, in the terms they appropriate, I will use the common discourse of conflating the religion of Islam, the region of the Middle East (also a problematic term set by Area Studies departments) and ethnicity of b eing Arab, while recognizing that reproducing these stereotypes is problematic. Attempting to detangle these separate, but at times co existing, identities in analyzing polling data and conversations with readers would miss the meaning these labels have f or those I am studying. 4 For details of the polling data please see Appendix A.
14 representations and direct a problematic gaze from the reader towards what I will loosely refer to as the Middle East. As the passage from The Untamed Sheik demonstrates, such tropes are not difficult to find. The opulence of the palace and the limousi ne, the romantic desert, and presence of these orientalist clichs, I will argue throughout this thesis that in order to better understand what is happening in these tex ts and more important what is happening when readers read them, we need to move beyond textual analysis to the My argument for the importance of reader interaction with the novels for scholarship on orientalism is both a methodological and theoretical one. To arrive at a understandings, audiences must be included. Adding the audience into analysis of orientalism adds another piece to the puzzle in how representations work. I have purposefully chosen the term work because representations do not just exist, they are active; they are both noun and verb. Representations do not stand alone in a vacuum. They require a creator, the product, and the audience (Hall 1997). 5 By including audience analysis, new understandings in both how people interpret representations and how they act upon them can emerge. It is not enough to simply state that a body of work is orientalist. The importance of assessing representations by all scholars who engage in orientalism is 5 Another dimension, the means of bringing the representations to the audiences, the marketing process, cess for my analysis of DR novels, it is not the focus of my thesis.
15 ultimately not the product, but what emerges from the human encounter with the product. If the orientalist product did not interact with people and their understanding of Others, the representation would not signify. It is precisely because scholars believe representations and audiences do interact in a meaningful way th at they analyze 6 scholars of orientalism have not engaged with audiences. In addition to my argument for including audience interaction as a more thorough way of investigating orientali sm, I argue leaving out the voices of the consumers of these texts is indicative of a broader problem I wish to address. To claim eople, by either ignoring the audience or problematic. People create representations, people distribute and market representations, and people engage with representations. limits our understanding of how representations work, but prioritizing the text to the exclusion of the person denies the agency of individuals. even the feminist academics who have studied DR novels (as I discuss further in chapter 2 ), imply the readers lack agency in their readings by assuming the novels guide readers into certain ways of imagining the East. Taking a feminist reading of the nov s but ignoring the readers 6 I will discuss the limitations of this article in chapter 2.
16 and their opinions does not make for a feminist project. I will further the DR and orientalism scholarship through a feminist lens by engaging with and taking the readers and their opinions seriously. By doing so, and by accepting these readers as individuals with agency (although I do not claim any person has complete agency), a more nuanced political analysis of these interactions can emerge. We engage in politics with the tools available to us (hooks, 2000). These tools may include academic articles and books, television sitcoms, newspaper articles, novels, talk radio, conversations with family and co workers, films, religious and political leaders, travel experiences, and more. I argue popular culture 7 is a widely available tool that everyday people (people outside of academia and political elites) use to help make sense of the world around them. In this thesis I do not prioritize academic or high brow ways of experien cing international affairs and encounters with Others over every day experiences. Relations (IR) scholar Cynthia Enloe (1989) argues for a political understanding of people political in ignored and presumable apolitical female dominated spaces. She writes: work here. Ig noring women on the landscape of international politics perpetuates the notion that certain power relations are merely a matter of taste and culture. Paying serious attention to women can expose how much power it takes to maintain the international politic al sys tem in its present form (2 3). 7 I recognize the uses of the term popular culture are problematic and at times so broad as to be rendered meaningless (Stor ey 2006). However, without an alternative language to convey the products, ideas and actions of a population with wide or mass commercial appeal, I will continue to appropriate the term.
17 I argue engagements with international politics, such as reading DR novels, need to be recognized as a form of politics Ignoring the political implications of these acts does not m ean they do not exist or are a politic al, only our understanding of them is seriously, I think we can acquire a more realistic understanding of how international politics actually works. We may also increase w exp eriences and knowledge. class suburban women reading these novels may not be discussing war tactics in the Pentagon or marching in protests, but practice and articulate a type of international politics that I refer to as Vernacular IR Vernacular refers to the native language or dialect of a population that is distinct (while related) from the dominant language. People who engage in international relations (in a language that is unrecognizable to those who dominate the practice and interpretation of politics) are opening an alternative space of practicing international relations and speaking a vernacular of IR. Although I do not believe the line b etween elitist/academic discourses and everyday discourses of international relations are completely distinct or separate, I find giving a name to the ways in which everyday people engage in international politics is a useful tool towards taking their expe riences and opinions seriously. My third argument involves the application of academic theorizing on orientalism. The scholarship surrounding orientalism is limited in its uses in thinking about more benign (and perhaps compassionate) interactions with re presentations of the Middle East and with the Middle Eastern Other. The frameworks set by Said (as well as other
18 scholars) render nearly all western interactions and representations with the East as problematic. Said provides only one way around this dilem ma, the individual ascending to a rare place of alienation and displacement in which the Other can be viewed as part of a common humanity rather than someone set apart from oneself. He writes, Humanism is centered upon the agency of human individuality a nd subjective intuition would go so far as to say, the final resistance we have against the inhuman practices The bar is s et high in this formulation educated, well travelled person who has experienced alienation as a stranger in a strange land, as the prototype of who can elevate above orient alism. 8 I doubt Said imagined a southern middle class romance reading woman in his description of transcendence. How then can we think about readers interactions with DR novels? Are there ways for everyday people who are engaging with representations of th e Middle East to do so in a way that is not always reproducing negative stereotypes of the Other? Plenty of Americans are interacting with representations of the East and may never periences as incapable of positive or productive interactions with the Other, I propose, through engaging with audiences, alternative solutions for interaction may emerge. By speaking directly with consumers of orientalist products, other interpretations, understandings and interactions with the text may open up possibilities unimaginable in current scholarship 8 He speaks of someone like himself. As a Palestinian refugee in Egy pt and then the United States, he discusses the complexities of being both an insider and outsider in both Middle Eastern and western contexts (Said 2002).
19 of orientalism. To summarize, I am arguing for the inclusion of audience response in scholarship of orientalism in order to add to our understanding of how orientalist texts are used by individuals, to take DR readers as individuals with agency and their opinions as sites of politics, and to potentially open options for improving the dialogue between East and West. To support my arguments I will exam ine both the DR novels and the readers of Orientalism in in the United States before honing in on the co ntent of the Desert Romances. After situating the texts within the larger romance industry, I examine the broader patterns that can be found in DR novels, arguing that specific books and passages ultimately give a more complex picture of these cultural pro ductions than has previously been believed. Exoticizing and othering does frequently occur in these novels. I do not deny the presence of orientalist representations. However, I believe the moments of disruption are worth examining. My analysis breaks from previous academic articles on DR texts that take the Saidian position that these novels perpetuate stereotypes of the Middle East and work to create an exotic and barbaric Other. The authors rarely reference instances of novels straying from this singular mold. I believe part of the reason for this monolithic reading of the novels is the limited methodological approach of the authors: Bach, Taylor, and Jarmakani appear to rely on a subjective sample of DR texts in their readings. These authors reference be tween 8 11 novels (roughly 3% of the total novels produced since 1919) and do not examine the development of DR novels over time. Moreover, the
20 methodologies of the authors are not transparent: none of the above authors ever divulges the manner of novel se lection or attempts to justify why the titles she scrutinizes are especially important. In pursuing a mo re thorough analysis, I analyze d all 275 DR novels that have been published from 1919 to 2012. Through this general overview, I locate several basic pa tterns which highlight how particular titles fit in with or deviate from these common narrative configurations. To gain a more nuanced understanding of how the genre works, I read thirty DR in their entirety (roughly 10% of the total number of novels produ ced since 1919). I chose texts spanning from 1919 2012 in order examine change 9 best create my chosen sample of thirty The more thorough attention I give to the selectio n and reading of the novels has resulted in findings that at times contradict and complicate the findings of earlier DR scholarship that relies upon convenience sampling. Desert orientalism and representation with audience response studies by highlighting the role of the readers of DR. Through Amazon.com book reviews and open ended interviewing, I engage with the readers of these novels to hear in their own words how these texts work in their liv es. Rather than assuming a cultural product has a pre determined meaning to its consumers or results in a specific orientation to the Other, I allow the readers to speak for themselves which complicates the story of orientalism. From doing so, I have found that 1) Readers interactions with the text are not monolithic and do not take prescribed patterns, but are diverse between readers and at times even 9 Primary publisher of category romance novels of which DR novels are a part.
21 contradictory within their own responses. 2) Readers at times come away with unexpected and complicated in terpretations of the text that could not be foreseen solely through textual analysis 3) Readers find through DR ways with which to attenuate prejudice and negative stereotypes of the Middle East rather than simply reaffirming stereotypes as Orientalism sch olarship suggests. In the conclusion, chapter 5, I will review the arguments and findings in this thesis, and make suggestions for how scholars interested in orientalism and representations can benefit from and further my research. The following Appendix offers tables and visuals referenced throughout the thesis and the List of References offer full citations for the resources I drew from in my research. Before engaging with the novels and their readers, I must first contextualize my arguments through exa mining the lineage of Orientalism and Audience Response Orientalism and the critiques of his work. In particular, I focus on feminist critiques that p oint to feminine desire of the East and the exasperation original argument and feminist ad ditions to scholarship on orientalism while expressing experiences and expressions of orientalist products. I then move to the tradition, primarily in literary and cult ural studies, of audience response studies. By reviewing the contributions of audience response scholars, again with a focus on feminist works, I argue studies of orientalism can benefit from the lens of
22 audience response studies. By drawing from the schol arly traditions of orientalism and audience response, through feminist analysis, I offer a contribution to the studies of orientalism. Studies of orientalism are currently in a paralysis. Scholars are comfortable discussing representations, but in order t move beyond theorizing orientalism to the interactions between people and representations. Once people are engaged and their understandings of the te xts surfa ce, new ways of imagining this journey towards a greater d egree of compassion and respect of difference may emerge.
23 CHAPTER 2 MOVING BEYOND ORIENTALISM: CREATING SPACE FOR AUDIENCE RESPONSE Before moving into my primary sources D esert R omance (DR) novels and their readers I must first situate my argument with in the diverse literature of orientalism and Audience Response Studies (ARS). Through reviewing the scholarship of these two areas of inquiry, focusing particularly on the contributions of feminist scholars, I will demonstrate how I use these fields to sup port my argument for a more complex understanding of orientalist representations through a more holistic reading of the novels and by engaging with r While theories on representation of the Other are vast, I will focus primar ily on the works of Edward Said which arguably have framed the debate of orientalist studies, with a review of Orientalism and other relevant works on representation (Todorov 1984) before reviewing the conversations surrounding Orientalism I will focus on the critiques briefly review the lineage of ARS paying particular attentio contributions to this field. Through the review of these two distinct literatures and through the supporting evidence of my primary sources, I will argue for the advantageous connection between studies on orientalism and audience re sponse that will allow for a deeper understanding of how representations work and possibly lead toward more humane encounters between East and West. Orientalism and the Other Examining the ways in which westerners think about and present the East, particul
24 Orientalism ( [ 1978 ] 2003 ). Using the case studies of western writings (Shakespeare, Dante, Napoleon, Balfour, Chaucer, Byron, Henry Kissinger and others) he explores what is prese give meaning to both identities. Said does not believe in a stable category of East or outsi de of our social constructions (Said, 5). However, he argues, most writers across all disciplines have accepted an inherent distinction between East and West as the basis for their theories (Said, 2). The East is presented as an exotic, irrational, feminin e space while the West is portrayed in rational and masculine terms. This foundational presumption of the Other then itself helps define the West as the superior in this East West binary (Said, 1). While Said focused his research primarily on European writ ings about the Orient, he believes the United States has carried on the tradition of western created exhibitions of the East. Said claims orientalist studies cannot be separated from a long history of western interests and western notions of superiority (S aid, 11). T hrough orientalist logic Europeans were able to make sense of the imperial project their nations were wrapped up in. Not only did orientalist representations encourage imperial economic objectives, but they served the political role of creating and solidifying the modern European identity by contrasting Europe with the backward East (McAlister 2008 9 10). Orientalism has not simply been a case of depicting the exotic Other, but has historically provided a means with which to dominate and further imperial w estern objectives. He the guild of Orientalists has a specific history of complicity with imperial power,
25 Said argues while one malicious or exotic repres entation of the Middle East may not be worthy of attention, the overall representation of the Middle East by the West (through thousands of individual representations) creates a problematic pattern. The repetitious and monolithic portrayals of the Middle E ast as a knowable and inferior place turns what could be an individual representation of the Middle East into an The term orientalism has more widely come to mean any western created exotic and/or racist representation of th intent Since Orientalism an explosion of scholarly work using the tenets of Orientalism as the theoretical framework for other case studies continues to grow. Scholarship on orientalism, since Said, te nds to fall into three categories. Most scholarship follows the principles laid out by Said which find representations of the East by the West as tainted. These authors generally take a case study a specific cultural production to use in their confirmatio n that orientalist productions exist in their chosen area of study and imply or explicitly state the representations perpetuate a racist or imperial gaze from the consumer. A few writers in opposition passionately guard western study and representations of the Orient. 1 This Orientalism has word. The third group is comprised of scholars who agree wi th much of the arguments of Orientalism, but add their own critiques and additions to this vast body of scholarship. 1 Lewis (1993), Warraq (2007), Irwin (2006)
26 This has occurred in several ways. Feminist scholars, for example, have pointed to the lack of attention by Said and other early scholars, to the role of gender in orientalism and the role of women in orientalist/imperialist projects. These revisionists 2 argue women are not only the objects of orientalist productions, but are desiring subjects as well. While this third category of scholars wh o offered the original revisions gave us a more complex picture when thinking about orientalism, the plethora of subsequent works which simply find another case study to support, in this example, female driven orientalism, do not add much to the ongoing c onversations on orientalism. from various disciplinary backgrounds have also analyzed representation of the Other in ct, Tzeven Todorov (1984) in, Conquest of America argues any encounter or representation of the Other not based His argument that even seemingly benign representatio ns are dangerous is an important one to engage for DR novels. DR, unlike more hostile representations of the Middle East, do not present the Middle East as a scary place full of violent people, but as an alluring exotic locale with sensual Arab men. While othering takes place in these novels, it is in less confrontational way. Todorov, however, would find these representations equally, if not more, precarious than overtly racist ones. He argues their seemingly benign nature makes them more insidious. Todoro v is important in this conversation because he more clearly articulates all representations of the Other and he agrees with 2 Melman (1992), McClintock (1995), Lewis (1996).
27 In his research, Todoro v examines the initial contact between the European colonizers and the Native Americans through the writings of the European conquistadors. He examines how the conquistadors interpreted the Natives in various ways that all manifested in harmful policies an subjects today to acknowledge the dangers of viewing the Other as different and inferior as that will likely lead to some form of domination and subjugation of the population in ques tion. This direct form of control and rule (slavery and colonization as example s ) is treated as part of western civilizations dark past. 3 of these overtly harmful and abusive ways of thinking about and interacting with the justifications for historical and present abuses. Colonial policies framed in terms of civilizing the Natives for their own good, religious policies of converting Natives so they might join in eternal salvation, and more current tropes of saving brown women from acceptable version of oneself. If forcing and loving the Other to be more like oneself is harmful, can greater knowledge of the Other lead to greater understanding and appreciation? Here Todorov also points to historical examples of how conquistadors used in depth knowledge of the Ot 3 Although current policies and abuses may rival the destruction of earlier forms of domination, less overt forms result in a difference in perception.
28 come to a more neutral space in which to encounter the Other, Todorov finds differ ence with inequality (conquest) does not work, sameness with equality (loving them into conversion) does not work, and sameness with inequality (knowledge for subjugation) does not work. What then has the potential to transcend this self/other dilemma? Whi le Todorov is right to point to the more subtle forms of racism and subjugation obtained through knowledge and love, his typologies to do not leave much room for shades of grey and moving past the dilemma of the self and other. He claims we must erson who today best incarnates. ability to achieve a neutral position (acceptance of difference and equality at the sam e time), the person who experiences all places and encounters as equally foreign a stranger in a strange land (249). assert ( although less clearly ) that nearly all interactio ns and representations of the Other are harmful. While we may put this sense of humanism/displacement as the goal for arriving at a neutral point to engage with the Other, the reality is, most people do engage on some level with Others and most likely will not come to know this alienation Said and Todorov describe. How then can we think about middle class suburban western DR romance readers and their relationship to the texts they read? Must it only be framed in terms of hierarchy and domination of the Othe r or is there space for readers to think about difference in ways that may not be liberating or neutral, but also may not be as harmful as Todorov and Said suggest. Might it be possible to turn this notion of alienation on its head and suggest these reader s can experience a type of
29 discontent or alienation of the familiar through their reading about the Other? How do we frame interactions with the Other that cannot be characterized by either orientalism or emancipation from orientalism? I will return to the se questions in chapter five after hearing from DR readers. Critiques of Orientalism Not long after Orientalism made waves in the academic world, critiques emerged. While varied, the critiques converge primarily on the methodologies used by Said, feminist arguments most pertinent for my project: feminist critiques concerning female participation in Orientalism and desire for the masculine East, and the exasperation displa yed by scholars of the Orient. Responding to Said and Saidists, several scholars (Lewis 1993, Irwin 2006, Warraq 2007) take offense to the proposition that orientalism is a politically charged project and accuse Said of taking an aggressive anti western st ance. They critique the accusation that studies of the Orient are tied to political/economic projects and claim orientalist studies sprung forth from benign curiosity which predates colonial interests rather than more recent history which might be imbued w ith imperial motives. They European imperialism distorts the interests and motivations of early orientalists. These authors fail to acknowledge the ways in which earlier hist orical periods in the West were also immersed in interests in the Middle East; the Crusades of the European Middle Ages are obvious examples. They also fail to recognize the power differentials and the historical environment in which studies and cultural a nalysis took
30 place. The contentious historical and political relationships between western countries and the Middle East did not necessarily occur elsewhere. argument or Midd le Eastern studies within a historical context, I do sympathize with the overall frustration expressed by these critics. If western representations of the East are tainted, but interactions and representations between people and cultures will continue to t ake place, where should western scholars and people interested in the Orient go from here? Must studies or interest in the Other always be a corrupted encounter? Can interactions continue in a more sensitive way? Neither Said nor Todorov offer a satisfyin g answer. Both scholars hint that somehow individuals can wipe their slate clean and interact with the Other from a place of acceptance and non judgment. as different and s till equal, we can reach an acceptable place with which to interact with and represent, if necessary, the Other (who at this point is no longer an Other, but simply another, a fellow human being). While this may be a safe way to end a theoretical text on r epresentation, it offers little guidance for a scholar of the Orient or someone interacting with the Middle East In addition to Lewis, Irwin and Warraq, scholars such as Daniel Martin Varisco (2007), Lisa Lowe (1991) and Christina Klein (2003) critique Sa They fault Said for focusing solely on the Arabic Middle East rather than broadening his studies to other areas of the Orient, for focusing on French and British representations while leaving out other western engagements with the East, and for analyzing only
31 western representations of the East without looking at eastern representations of the West. Lisa Lowe (1991) focuses her critique on the monolithic representations of both nd subsequent) work. While she acknowledges the persistence of orientalist representations of eastern countries by 4 scholars of orientalism must pay attention to the specific sites and the ways in which orientalisms are manifest. Likewise, In Cold War Or ientalism (2003), Christina Klein claims many of the uses popular mid twentieth century texts, such as novels 5 and Broadway musicals 6 to examine popular representations of Asia from 1945 1961. She argues as the U.S. sought to commit itself to notions of equality, tolerance, and inclusion, while also expanding its power globally, older notions of racial hierarchy, which Klein claims Said relies upon in his definition of o 4 She believes scholars must lo ok at the particular sites where orientalisms take place to find orientalism ways depending on the relationship between the groups involved (8). She representations of India. She claims Said, on the other hand, argues there is an underlying and persistent logic and pattern to these re 5 The Voice of Asia (1951) and Hawaii (1959) by James A. Michener; The Ugly American (1958) by William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick; The Edge of Tomorrow (19 58) and The Night They Burned the Mountain (1960) by Thomas A. Dooley. 6 South Pacific (1949), The King and I (1951), Flower Drum Song (1958) by Rodgers and Hammerstein.
32 intellectuals eagerly embraced these id eals of tolerance and inclusion. Although her assertions of a liberated non racist (even if only in rhetoric) American populace appears nave, she, and o thers, effectively make the case for an expanded and more complicated understanding of what is occurring when West represents East. It is possible for these representations to both reify and contest orientalism; to solidify difference while also encouragin g understanding and reciprocity. Klein believes the cultural texts of the mid twentieth century create that opening for moving beyond orientalism. This focus on context specific analysis is a hallmark of feminist research; I will draw upon these arguments when discussing DR readers. Feminist writers engaging Orientalism Billie Melman (1992), Anne McClintock (1995), and Reina Lewis (1996) offer direct feminist critiques by focusing on gender and the role of women as subjects instead of objects of orientalis t studies. The scholars investigating DR novels draw from this body of work. marginal positions in a dominant culture can offer different ways of engagement with the Other. She wri sisterhood (which has been complicated in feminist theory), race to gender and class in assessing imperia lism. She notes that men and women did
33 not have a monolithic experience of imperialism and the repression of women comes considerations of gender and class which limits our understanding of the power dynamics involved. 7). As with Lowe, McClintock is interested in complicating the monolithic and bina ry terms with which the Occident and the Orient, the colonized and the colonizer are presented in scholarship on orientalism. orientalist project. As this was a neglected subject up u ntil the publication of Gendering Orientalism (1996) faceted positioning, altered the gaze and discourse on impe rialism and orientalism into analysis of the art work of Henriette Brown and the writings of George Eliot, Lewis w insights into the imperial subject. Desert Romance Scholarship Scholarship on DR novels is emphasizing Jessica Taylor (2007), and Am ira Jarmakani (2010 and 2011), present these novels as perpetuating exotic and racist representations of the Middle East through the narrative tropes of an exotic Middle East, the civilizing of the Arab male by the white western female, and the importation of western values and modernity through the western
34 at engage with reader resp onses in addition to the novels to validate orientalism. While these authors rightly point to instances of racism, exoticism, and orientalism in DR, the articles do not leave room for alternative spaces of understanding between the texts and their readers. Readers become passive submissive receptors of culture and when they do speak or act, it is in compliance with the internalized orientalist messages they have received. Agency is denied. Evelyn Bach first marked the trend of DR novels in her 1997 article, the orientalist images she found in her ten sample texts. She writes it is a blending of a believable, amalgam of fantasy and observation, in which observation feeds and validates the Bach highlights the citational aspects of DR by claiming the authors of these novels base their writings on popular images of the Middle East rather than experience or research. Bach and Jessica Taylor (2007) both locate the ways in which wome n are Sheikh: Gender, Race, and Orientalism in there has unfo rtunate gap, especially considering the existence of texts like sheikh romances.
35 Bringing these texts into the picture can yield some interesting results about how representation concerns. Taylor highlights DR novels as cases in which the Other is presented as masculine while the West is feminized through the white heroine. In addition to the presentation of an exotic and erotically masculine Middle East, the authors asses the western heroi Arab male requires a degree of civilizing not found in general romances. Through the unfolding of the story, the Arab ma n must prove he is not as barbaric as he might first ( Bach 1997, 22). Most notably, he mu st show the heroine (and the reader) that he is Loved Me: Romancing the War on Terro abduction or isolation precisely to suggest the potential for the bad Arabian to be As with Bach and Jarmakani, Taylor finds the heroine transforms the hero, but more specifically through a union between the male and female in which the West
36 woma n). He must become incorporated into the discourse of the white romance and the 2007 1045). Jarmakani focuses le East) into western notions of modernization. She writes, Desert romance novels combine the neoliberal theme of freedom and progress through global (free) trade and investment with the theme of rapprochement between East and West through heterosexual nu 2010 999). Although the novels use traditional orientalist themes, Jarmakani believes they also work within a larger context of current fears and desires with the War on Terror by presenting a possibility of resolution through inco novels and how that relates to the racial ization of Arabs/Muslims/Middle Easterners 7 in sites. She argues that while readers enjoy the exotic otherness of the hero, his difference must be muted in ways to keep h im as a desirable subject. She suggests readers in the 1 970s and 1980 s were able to more easily accept the Arab hero than readers today. Jarmakani returns time and again to the notion of reality vs. fantasy in the novels and the fine line that must be walk ed to keep the sheikh as a desirable hero. 7 Jarmakani argues the distinctions between Arab ethnicity, Muslim religious identity, and geographic location of living in the Middle East are often conflated as to render the distinctions between them almost meaningless in American popular culture.
37 While the authors use textual evidence to support their findings, their readings are limited and at times inaccurate. Yes, orientalist tropes do exist, but that is not all that is functioning in the novels. I am interested in discovering where these novels diverge authors) relationships with these texts. I argue the representations in these novels are more complicated and multi fa ceted than is acknowledged. What can we learn from representations that both adhere to and diverge from orientalism? The four Desert Romance articles focus their attentions on the orientalist aspects of the novels (Bach and Taylor), the civilizing of the A rab male (Bach, Taylor and Jarmakani) and the white woman (aka west) leading the Arab male (aka east) into modernity (Taylor and Jarmarkani). While these are all areas of interest in the novels, I am most interested in how readers read and interpret these novels. Are the attempts to unite the West with the East always a case of exporting neo liberal American values? What does the transformation of the hero by the heroine tell us about DR specifically? opinions on the Middle approach to the Middle East. Clearly, as the opening novel segment demonstrates, we will find orientalist elements displayed. However, a more careful analysis will show an attempt by readers (and writers) of DR to learn, explore, and reconcile perceived Christian heritages. By focusing only on the cultural productions and leaving out t he main players, the readers, we are given a partial picture entirely from the long gaze of the ivory tower. By
38 returning to foundations of feminist projects we can add depth to the scholarship on orientalism and representation. Moving Toward A udience R esponse S tudies and Orientalism Melanie McAlister ([2 001 ] 2005 ), has studied U.S. cultural engagement with the East though historical analysis. In addition to Jar representations of the Middle East in American popular culture. I would like to build upon and f urther this initial step toward audience resp onse and orientalism by engaging directly with contemporary audiences. In Epic Encounters ([ 2001 ] 2005 ), Melani McAlister moves a step closer to audience interaction with orientalism by combining orientalist (or as she would label it, post orientalist) rep resentations of the Middle East in the United States with historical archival analysis of responses to those cultural phenomenon. McAlister challenges the logic of orienta orientalism rests on the distinction of an Us vs. Them, a feminized East vs. masculine West, and citational representations. Particularly following World War II, the racial diversity pr esent in the U.S. and the ways in which U.S. representations differentiated between Middle Eastern countries, presents cleavages in the notion of a distinct Us and Them. McAlister also finds the East as feminine and West as masculine as too simplistic in c apturing the ways the U.S. represents itself and others. She argues the postwar U.S. identity is far from masculine. Women, femininity and the home are central to the projection of U.S. interests. The home represents the U.S. and the necessity to
39 guard and protect the U.S. In this construction, the outside world becomes the masculine the U.S. must protect itself from (8 12). Just as a masculine West becomes problematic, so does a feminine East. Perceiving the East as feminine leaves little room for western female desire of the East. I would add, it also does not speak to U.S. fear of the East. Framing the East in only feminine terms also strips the East of its constructed masculine power and ambition. A feminine East does not pose a threat to a masculine Wes t. McAlister finds most scholarship on U.S. representations of the Middle East focuses on surveys to determine whether the representations and U.S. opinion are int erests and representations in the Middle East are rationally decided and acted upon by an informed public or opinions and representations are manipulated through elites to push U.S. policy in a certain direction. In breaking with this approach, McAlister c laims we should look for the nuances and intersections between interest, consent, representation and power. This is where the importance of culture and politics emerge. culture is only politics), but because where the two meet, political meanings are often f public opinion surveys toward DR audiences by neither claiming the readers are complete agents or complete victims. In her research, McAlister focuses on particular moments and interactions in U.S. history since World War II which highlight these intersections. For example, in one chapter she covers the popular King Tut exhibit that toured the U.S. from 1977 79. While it is c lear the U.S. Tut tour was seen as significant in the highest levels of
40 government, 8 McAlister devotes most of the chapter to the more subtle ways in which the exhibit expressed U.S. fears and fascination with the Middle East. This exhibition brought in no t only art elitists, but found mass appeal in the U.S. Viewers were able to marvel over exotic items discovered half way around the world by a white Br itish archaeologist in the 1920 s. McAlister argues the display of the exhibition (encountered as though t hrough the eyes of Howard Carter) allowed viewers to feel they were discovering something both foreign and yet universal. The extraordinary wealth displayed by the gold artifacts also signified a connection between ancient Egypt and the modern Arab Middle East (connections she argues earlier generations of anthropologists tried to sever). At the time of the exhibit ion, the OPEC oil embargo and marked the beginning of the clic h image in the U.S. of wealthy, greedy and corrupt oil sheikhs who claimed power over the U.S. McAlister finds American fascination with modern day gold, oil. McAlister analyzes reactions from individuals such as the New York Times art critic, Hilton Kramer, and Shirley Du Bois (wife of W.E.B. Du Bois) presented in articles of the time. McAlister allows a few distinguished voices to share their interactions with these exh ibitions, but the majority of her analysis remains with the texts (for example, 8 In 1974 President Nixon personally requested President Sadat to allow the Tut treasures t o tour the U.S. In allowing the tour (as well as allowing one more city and several more displayed items than the 1973 Soviet tour), Egypt made an open display of increasingly friendly U.S. Egyptian relations. Sadat was not the only one concerned with impr oving diplomatic relations. When the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) expressed concerns about the responsibility of caring for such priceless artifacts and conveyed second thoughts about the wisdom of the tour, Henry Kissinger personally called the board of the Met and made
41 Foreign Policy Her work, for the most part, does not interact with the opinions of everyday viewers. people. The feminist critiques and reformulations of Orientalism made an important contribution to the feminist theory body. Nevertheless, while feminist scholars deba te the need to acknowledge the female gaze and the role of women in the orientalist project, the debate remains in the lofty space of academic theory. The experiences of everyday women and their relationship to orientalist production and consumption have b een left unexamined. Other feminist scholars, unaffiliated with orientalism, have explored the relationship between cultural productions and their audiences. These feminist scholars have helped establish and build upon the Reader Response Criticism and Bri tish Cultural Studies traditions th at gained attention in the 1970 s and 1980 s. I will now turn to this tradition that I refer to as Audience Response Studies (ARS) 9 Audience Response Studies: Reader Response Criticism and British Cultural Studies Audience Response Studies (ARS) gained prominence in the last quarter of the twentieth century in response to the dominant Formalist/New Criticism School of literary analysis. Within New Criticism, scholars focus on close readings of the text while eliminating con siderations of historical context, author intent or reader response. Early leading proponents of New Criticism, William K. Wimsatt and Monroe Beardsley (1949) legitimate mean 9 This field of inquiry is given various names such as Reader Response Criticism and Audience Theory.
42 the po em and its results. It begins by trying to derive the standard of criticism from the psychological effects of a poem and ends in impressionism and rel and Be ardsley 1949, 31). Proponents of New Criticism treat the text as an independent objective work with the ability to impart meaning outside of a historical and cultural context. In contrast, Reader Response Criticism (RRC), while not a unified approach, shar es the common belief that reader engagement with the texts is an important component of scholarship. Wolfgang Iser (1980) proposed that the text creates meaning for its readers while Stanley Fish (1980) approached literature not as an object a reader studi es and makes sense of, but as an experience. Fish re centers the focus of analysis from the text to primarily the reader. In addition to disagreements on the central unit of analysis, the text or the reader, reader response scholars also differ in how the y believe readers engage with texts. Jonathan Culler (1980) proposed that the text does not create meaning in itself for the reader, but a reader must be aware of a system of agreed upon conventions in order to make sense of what he/she is reading. In this case, both the reader and the text are dominated by the concern for uncovering the underlying system of rules readers employ (Tompkins 1980). Other scholars have turned to a 1980, xix). number of cultural phenomenon, including film, televisio n, and artwork. The focus on television and media is most readily found in the British Cultural Studies (BCS)
43 movement occurring at the same time in Britain as Reader Response Criticism was occurring in the U.S. and continental Europe. Responding to the ac ademic focus on high brow art and literature, pioneers, such as Raymond Williams (1950) and Stuart Hall (1980) at the Center for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) at the University of Birmingham insisted on the importance of studying popular culture an d rejected abstract grand theory in favor of theory for specific contexts and circumstances (Turner 1990, 4). As with RRC, BCS cannot be easily defined. As primarily a critical field dedicated to exploring the complexities of cultural studies and exposing power dynamics in society, scholars have resisted the establishment of an orthodox approach to Cultural Studies (Turner 1990, 6). Although beginning with the analysis of popular texts, BCS broadened into engagement with audiences with the publication of D The Nationwide Audience interpretations of the television show and their particular socio economic position (Turner 1990, 132). He engaged audiences by bringing individu als together to watch a the audience members afterward Feminist scholar, Dorothy Hobson (1982), complicated the relationship between viewer and interpretation by adding an ethnographic approach to he r research. She argues, rather than interviewing audiences after having them view a television program, scholars should enter into the natural spaces of the viewers and conduct participant observation, in addition to open of soap opera viewing by women in their homes argued for a complex understanding of how women
44 appropriate the show into their lives. Her work greatly influenced the future of BCS. Graeme Turner argues this move toward ethnography in BCS is what helped shi ft the scholarly focus from texts to everyday people and popular culture ( Turner 1990, 161). Feminist BCS scholars have been more attentive to the various elements that news over soap operas and other traditionally female dominated sites of entertainment, Angela McRobbie (1980) took issue with the overwhelming focus BCS had on public spac es and male sub culture groups This male dominated focus relegated women invisible and ignored the rich interactions between women and culture. Many of the feminist scholars call for an integrated approach in analyzing the intersections of class, gender, and race where class based analysis had been dominant. Further studies by Christine Gledhill (1988) and McRobbie (1984) turned around the traditional analysis of women as the objects of desire in popular culture to women as desiring sub jects. This re direction toward with ro mance novels. Janice Radway ( [ 1984 ] 1991 ), as part of the American RRC movements, engages directly with readers and their interactions with the texts in her pivotal ethnography of American romance readers. Reading the Romance eaders emerged from a socio historic context in upon the content or the covers of the novels without regards to the readers themselves. Romance fiction has been scorned by bo consumers and feminist scholars and activists. Coinciding with emerging feminist movements in the 1970 s, these novels came under intense fire from several key activist
45 and academic feminists who proclaimed that ro mance novels upheld patriarchal norms and the subjugation of women. Germaine Greer (1970) characterized romances as the The passive domestic housewife was seen as being he ld back by literature which re inscribed traditional notions of womanhood which the reader took with her from the Although romance is essentially vicarious, the potency of Porn ose and in the soft porn fantasies of the H arlequins, woman's independence is made horrifically unattractive and unrewarding, her dependence (28). Feminists during the 1970 s nearly uniformly labeled romance novels as damaging to women and feminist goals. Ra dway states her motivation with Reading the Romance was primarily in taking worn arguments of how romance reading oppresses women, Radway sought to speak with women directly a nd explore more deeply questions of feminism, gender formation, and identity. Her resulting ethnography has complicated the ways in which romance novels are discussed by challenging the paternalistic and condescending manner in which romance readers were addressed by the broader public. Radway chose an active romance book club as her research site. The women she interacted with participated in both a written survey and extended open ended interviewing. While Radway initially directed her queries to specifi c features of the
46 novels in order to glean how readers interpreted those narrative features, the majority of readers discussed the pleasurable act of reading rather than novel content. Radway claims she abandoned her pre conceived grand approach of pursuin g a specific research enquiry in favor of allowing the readers to express themselves on their own terms. Through this open process, she learned not only about reader preference and interpretation of narrative details, but the psychological and social effec ts of romance reading for these women. The romance readers 10 most often cited a desire for personal relaxation and pleasure, a means to escape everyday hassles and worries, as their driving motivation for romance reading ( Radway [ 1984 ] 1991 61). By carving out time and space, not in the production of caring for others, or in social engagements and activities, but solely for individual private pleasure, these women were able to find moments of self enjoyment and rejuvenation, not available to them otherwise. Radway and Nancy Chodorow (1978) argue patriarchal culture does not nurture the emotional needs of the mother. It is the mother/wife who is expected to give emotionally to others without reciprocation. Romance reading, therefore, can potentially serve as a space for women to unwind and enjoy stories in which the heroine is being well cared for. Through finding moments to subvert the demands of domestic work and vicariously experience a woman who is o reader response shows cracks in the official story of romance reading as harmful or a waste of time for women, and offers a more complex picture of the relationship between reader and text. 10 Primarily middle aged stay at home marrie d women with children, from middle income households.
47 That is not to discount completely the messages in the novels. Radway does believe that in turning to romances because of the failures of patriarchy, these women reinforce patriarchal norms by the literature they choose. Even progressive romances tend to limit female desire to monogamous heterosexuality in which marri age, and often children, are the ultimate, and only, rou te to womanly happiness ( Radway [ 1984 ] 1991 11). Radway does not deny the patriarchal messages in the novels but she finds through engagement with readers, the act of romance reading can be viewed a s a engagement with readers was Radway able to locate complications and resistance to the dominate presentation of romance novels and their readers. I will likewise draw on r eaders to complicate the dialogue of orientalism in DR novels. While ARS studies became a well known line of academic inquiry in the 1980 s and 1990 s, it has since fallen out of fashion in most disciplines. Some critics argue ARS offer only inconclusive an d messy findings while Toby Miller (2008) argues ARS has a tendency in practice to either claim people are unwittingly being molded by cultural of popular opinion pol ling). Miller tracks two kinds of ways in which ARS stands in for force that can either direct or pervert the citizen model which sug gests other cultures are seduced by western popular culture (particularly American) to the neglect of their own local traditions and ways of knowing. To avoid these pitfalls, he claims scholars need to situate audiences and texts within
48 er which culture is produced, circulated, received, interpreted, and Janice Radway (2008) and Lila Abu Lughod (2005) have pointed to ethnography and a more complex understanding of the multiple systems in which cultural productions and a udiences o perate as the best means toward a useful ARS. Abu Lughod, in her analysis of television viewing in Egypt, finds most studies of popular culture lacking as r should be employed for the study of reception. Radway reflects that reception study can be potentially limiting if we want to address the diverse social worlds and activitie s people are involved in and. She also calls for a more sociological and anthropological study of reception. In this vein, it is neither my intention to claim DR readers are ignorantly perpetuating a female orientalism, or that they have somehow escaped th e legacy of orientalism and are blazing a trail toward humanism through their readings. Neither model allows for the complexities of the intersections of people, cultural productions, and the various other ways of daily life which come together in an indiv with a text, especially texts that intimately interact with current geo political situations. As I believe Radway successful accomplished with her research, it is my intention, through careful attention to the novels, the authors, and t he readers to reveal a more complex story about orientalism than is currently told. While scholars should be mindful approach to inquiry, an ethnographic approach to st udying the interaction of reader
49 engagement with DR novels has the potential to offer new insights into studies of orientalism, even if these insights cannot be tidily packaged with clear conclusions. Studies of orientalism can benefit from more complexity even at the cost of messiness. Conclusion Feminist studies of orientalism and audience response, particularly the work of Radway, will inform my study of DR readers. Combining the feminist orientalist critiques (which give space for female desire and repr esentations of the masculine Other and argue for a multiplicity of positions in the traditional orient/occident binary) along with feminist ARS (which delve into the relationship between audiences and the productions they consume, with particular attention to female audiences and gender studies), will not just in academic theory. To date, only limited analysis of audience response to orientalist texts in American cultu re has been conducted. And, currently, no one has engaged directly with audiences to see how they use and make sense of the orientalist texts they receive. As scholarship on orientalism has had such a dominating impact on western study of the representatio n of the East (part icularly the Middle East), I am surprised that scholars have not explored how audiences understand and use the texts by speaking with the consumers themselves. It is not enough to simply state that a body of work is orientalist. The natu ral follow scholarship denies a relationship between a text and its audience. Instead, there seems to lay an u nexplored assumption that the orientalist text acts as a brainwashing mechanism to promote racist stereotypes of the Other within the consumer.
50 I believe it is necessary to engage with consumers of orientalist texts, and hear in their own words what these texts mean to them and how they use them to better understand the world in which they live. This approach can perhaps offer new insights, understandings, and complications into current scholarship. Consumers, as individuals with agency, are not merely acte d upon by the texts they receive, but also interact and write upon the texts themselves. Including the voices of consumers has the potential to reposition orientalist scholarship from only analyzing representations to the more important examination of the meaning making that lies between the representations and audiences. it is imperative to ex plore not only the representations, but the ways in which these orientalist depictions are received and used by people. Without an audience to interpret, what meaning does a text have in of itself? It is precisely because these texts interact understanding of the Middle East that they cannot remain neutral. Public opinion and foreign policy emerge in part from the cultural assumptions citizens and policy makers carry with them. I would not suggest that a direct causal relationship exists betwe en the texts and public opinion of the Middle East, the ways in which humans make meaning of the world is too complicated to explain with one rational, but I do believe an important relationship exists between the messages we receive through popular cultur e and the manner in which we perceive the world. Before turning to the readers, I will examine the novels themselves. In order to
51 for previous critiques of Desert Roma nces, I must first spend time reviewing the novels. I will analyze both the romance genre as a whole and DR within that genre. As DR are tied to the broader romance g enre, I will show the relationship between the romance industry and Desert Romances before delving more deeply into the content of the DR novels.
52 CHAPTER 3 CONTESTING IMAGES: ORIENTALISM AND POST ORIENTALISM IN MODERN DESERT ROMANCE NOVELS While the focus address the content of D esert R omance (DR) novels. In order to make sense of addition, scholars desc ribing orientalism including DR scholars use cultural productions to support their argument that orientalism is present. To understand the context of this claim I need to engage with the content of their analysis. And, complicating the orientalism argume nt, which I do, requires engaging with the content of in the DR novels. Instead, I argue in addition to orientalism, representations counter to orientalism are also pr esent. In this chapter I will acknowledge the exoticing/racist elements in the novels, but I will spend more time locating where the texts diverge from the typical orientalist assessment of the novels. My critique of DR critics stems from their inadequate understanding of the relationship between DR romance novels and the broader romance genre, and the partial and limited reading Bach, Taylor and Jarmakani give to content. Many of the described instances of orientalism are not unique to DR, but are indicat ive of the romance genre as a whole. Richly detailed and exotic setting descriptions, a domineering alpha hero with animal like comparisons, and a heroine civilizing and taming the wild hero are all evidence authors have used to substantiate the argument o f orientalist representations in the novels. What is not adequately acknowledged is that these devises are common to nearly all romances of any romance subgenre.
53 While certainly common elements and themes in DR (and all romances) exist, so does diversity of form. DR authors give varied presentations of the culture, language, not acknowledge any deviations from their orientalist reading of the texts. These authors also d o not concede the significant shifts in presentation from earlier novels to more recently published DR. I believe this deficiency stems from a limited methodological approach. As I discussed in the introduction, Bach, Taylor, and Jarmakani chose a limited number (8 11) of novels to assess, a limited span of years to assess and they did not divulge their manner of novel selection. Through intensive online research (blogs, romance websites, and online bookstores such as Amazon.com), I found 275 DR that were published from the original DR, The Sheik, in 1919 through the most recently published in 2012. 1 The spreadsheet in Appendix C reflects the data I gathered on the 275 novels I surveyed. I looked for general information I could obtain by reading the back c overs and online summaries. I attempted to answer for all the 275 novels the nationality and ethnicity of the author, the publishing date and house, the ethnicity of the hero and heroine, the time period (modern or historic), the location of the setting, a nd the basic plot. For the novels I could not easily obtain this information I marked unknown. My goal with this data gathering was to understand the broad patterns and commonalities to most DR. In addition to this expansive overview of the DR subgenre, I read thirty novels in their entirety (roughly 10% of the DR that have been published). Nine of the novels were written prior to 9/11 and twenty one post 9/11 for the purposes of noting changes in the 1 Although I conducted a comprehensive search, I imagine a few DR exist that I have not accounted for. Nonetheless, I have included a substantial number in my survey
54 representations over time. Rather than randomly selectin g the novels in my dataset (or choosing novels that best fit my argument), I decided to focus on the best selling novels. Because of the unusual manner category romances are marketed and sold (which I will describe shortly) this information is not public. I contacted Harlequin 2 to request a list of their best selling DR novels. While Harlequin would not provide me with sales figures or rankings, they did send me a list of their best sellers (in no particular electing the ones that represented the greatest span of years so I could make comparisons and draw conclusions about the DR subgenre over time. The more comprehensive approach I have taken in reviewing DR will result in a more holistic analysis of the DR p henomenon. I begin this chapter with a brief overview of the history, industry and structure of the romance genre before turning my attention specifically to DR novels. Because DR are intimately tied to the broader genre, the context of romance novels need s to be explored. I will then analyze the earlier, pre 9/11 romances (starting with The Sheik) before assessing the ways in which post 9/11 DR conform and deviate from the earlier novels. Through the content of DR novels and interviews with their authors, I will argue that while elements of orientalism certainly exist, the picture is not as fixed as previous scholarship describes. The post 9/11 novels exemplify an altered representation of difference which move s toward ovels are written, produced, and read by people, I argue the more nuanced representations in recent novels reflect a changing environment in which readers, writers, and publishers wish to imagine a more empathetic relationship between the U.S. and the Midd le East. 2 Harlequin is the largest romance publishing house. Harlequin also owns Mills & Boon and Silhouette.
55 A Brief History of the Romance Novel Industry The romance novel is a literary genre that developed primarily in western English speaking countries. Early examples of romances go back to the mid eighteenth century 3 but the genre did not fully take form until the nineteenth century with Jane Austen who is considered one of the founders and masters of the genre. He r novels, Pride and Prejudice (1813), Emma (1816), Sense and Sensibility (1811), to name a few became immediate successes. Charlotte Bronte built upon Austen's work with her mid nineteenth century romance, Jane Eyre (1847) (Regis, 85). While we can trace the evolution of the romance novel over the past 250 years, the genre, as we are familiar with it today, was refined in the early twentieth century. In 1908 Gerald Mills and Charles Boo n founded Mills & Boon in the United Kingdom as a general fiction publishing house with romances as only one of the genres offered. Due to the success of the romance line, the company began t o concentrate specifically on s. Meanwhile, Harlequin, a Canadian company, began a re selections for reprints were romances they had bought from Mills and Boon. The romances were extremely popular in both the U.K. and the U.S. At the urging of Mary exclusively on romances by the [ 1984 ] 1991 39). In an attempt to dup licate Mills and Boon's U.K. success in North America, Harlequin improved their distribution and marketing system. Rather than concentrating 3 Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded, by Samuel Richardson was published in England in 1740. Pamela was the first popular novel to be told from the perspective of the heroine and was complete with a happy ending. The book was widely popular, with five editions printed in the first year of release (Regis, 63).
56 on bookstores they chose to sell their books "where the women were" supermarkets, corner drug stores and eventuall y mass market stores such as Wal Mart. Harlequin also began a reader service, shipping directly to readers who agreed to purchase a set of books each month (Radway [ 1984 ] 1991 40). Due to their marketing success, in 1971, Harlequin purchased Mills and Bo on. Although the former Mills & Boon lines were now owned by a North American company, they did not include an American writer until 1975. Simon and Schuster formed Silhouette Books to take advantage of the untapped American talent. Silhouette soon saw their market share expand, and in 1984, Harlequin bought out Silhouette (Regis 2003 157). To day, Harlequin/Mills & Boon/Silhouette continues to dominate the market and produces the majority of the romance novels in the U.S. and the U.K.; they are responsible for 88% of the DR published between1919 2012. 4 Romance novels are divided into two marke ting types, category romances, also known as series romances, and single title romances. Many authors write only within one of the formats and some readers only read within one format. The majority of romances published are category romances which typicall y run under 200 pages in Harlequin/Mills & Boon/Silhouette is by far the largest publi sher of category romances and has achieved worldwide distribution. Category novels are published within a specific line/theme and are numbered sequentially within that line. A line might focus on contemporary foreign settings (as with DR), historical setti ngs, paranormal beings 4 See Appendix B.
57 (vampires), African American characters, and other themes. Category romances have a are released any unsold books from the previous month are r emoved from the retailer, returned to the publisher and destroyed 5 In contrast, single title romances are released by various publishing houses such as Avon and Dell. These novels are generally longer averaging between 350 and 400 pages, and include more complex plots. Authors of single title romances have more freedom in their writing, although all romance writers will conform to certain conventions (described below). Single title novels, as with most non romance books, remain on the booksellers' shelves at the discretion of the individual retailer (Parv 2004 13). While the single title romances are the ones that make it to the best consumed. The vast majority of Desert Romances are cate gory romances published by Harlequin/ Mills and Boon/Silhouette and will therefore be the focus of this chapter. Structure of Romance Novels Romance is by far the most popular form of fiction in the United States. One out of every six novels sold in the U .S. is a romance. Romance fiction generated $1.37 billion in sales in 2011 and was the largest share of the U.S. consumer market in 2011 at 14.3 percent ( Romance Writers of America website ). Romance consistently outsells all other forms of fiction. Despite the genres overwhelming popularity, romance novels remain a dirty secret women hide in oversized purses; myths and stereotypes abound in regards to content. What exactly is a romance novel? 5 This is one reason it is difficult to obtain statistics on category romance sales. All category romance novels have a set number of printed regardless of how many people actually purchase them. In order to get an idea of the best sellers among the DR novels, I contacted Harlequin directly and relied upon the list of best sellers Harlequin provided me(lacking ranking or speci fic sales information).
58 Romance novels are recognizable by two essential elements: A cen tral love story and a happy ending. 6 A writer may include as many subplots as she wants as long as the love story is the main focus of the novel. The romance genre is distinct from eroine's relationship with her family, friends, career, etc. may be equally or more important than her relationship with her love interest. romance reading found a majority of the women interviewed ranked a happy en ding as the most important ingredient in a romance novel (Radway 1991, 67). As for the most important elements not to include, women ranked a sad ending second only to rape (Radway 1991, va 1991, 66). becomes art when the story unfolds seamlessly, [and] the conclusion ties all loo se ends together in a happy ending. 1999 1). Although not a requirement, another common feature is conveying the narrative from the heroine's viewpoint, in either first or third person Expanding on the elements of the central love story and happy ending, romance novel historian, Pamela Regis (2003) identi fies eight essential ingredients in a romance novel. 7 Although all elements must be included, Regis argues they can occur in any order, certain elements can be diminished or highlighted, one action can cover several 6 By this convention, novels such as Gone With the Wind (the love story is not the central theme and the ending is not happy) are mislabeled as romance novels. 7 1) Society defined (somehow flawed) 2) the meeting between hero and h eroine 3) the barrier between them 4) the developing attraction and love 5) the declaration of love 6) the point of ritual death (the point when it appears it will be impossible for the hero and heroine to overcome obstacles) 7) recognition (barrier overco me) 8) and the betrothal.
59 elements or many actions may converge ar ound one element, and the novels can take place in any setting or time period. Therefore, Regis believes romances contain a of being the same, as it is in any other romance novel hold true for DR as well, Regis would argue against the DR scholarship which treats all DR as one monolithic story. Traditionally in romances, a detailed description of the setting is essenti al. Romance authors Cristie Craig and Faye Hughes describe the importance of the details The Everything Guide to Writing a Romance Novel (2008). For many romance authors, the setting of their novel is as important to the success of their plotline as the characters themselves. After all, romance readers, more so than the readers of any other genre, want to experience the novel as though it were happening to them. They want to pretend they are the characters you've writ ten about on the pages of the book. They want to live your story. (34). But be forewarned: to please a romance reader, you'll need to pay strict attention to the details of your fictional world. That means you'll need to research your setting and write abo ut it convincingly, whether it's small town Ame rica or the Elizabethan court. or if the setting's unique components aren't fully utilized you run the risk of alienating the reader. (163) As the above advice suggests, romance authors include richly detailed settings in their narratives, particularly if the setting is foreign to the reader (either because of location of time period). While DR novels do fetishize the rolling sand of the desert, the camels and the colorful cloths, they are not only adhering to notions of the exotic East, but are observing the expected conventions of the genre. Romances will equally give detailed descriptions of the exotic surroundings whether by describing the gowns of a
60 R egency era lady or the robes of an Arab sheikh. Attention to sensory detail is considered essential for a successful romance. The central characters in a romance are of course the hero and heroine. The typical romance hero is an alpha male with a striking masculine presence and body. He is a man who is accustomed to power and getting what he wants. He is often wealthy and powerful in his community (at times also royalty or aristocracy). Radway found the ideal hero of any romance must be characterized by bot h super masculinity and sensitivity. His compassion side will bloom into love and devotion for the heroine by the ( 1991) writes that this essential feature of the softening of the hyper male manifests itself in physical de scriptions of the hero. The hero of the romantic fantasy is always characterized by spectacular masculinity. Indeed, it is insufficient for the author to remark in passing that the romantic hero has a muscular physique. The reader must be told, instead, th at every aspect of his being, whether his body, his face, or his general demeanor, is informed by the purity of his maleness. Almost everything about him is hard, angular, dark. It is, however, essential to add riptions of the ideal romantic hero, the terrorizing effect of his exemplary masculinity is always tempered by the presence of a small feature that introduces an important element of softness into the overall picture. (128). As for the heroine, she must be feminine, intelligent, witty, and independent to balance the hyper masculine hero (77). She is spunky and adventurous, but her secure her own happily ever after by softening and molding the hero into a strong, yet importantly, emotional needs. In this transformative process, the hero realizes his dependence on the heroine for emo women want to feel that the heroine will be protected by the hero, they also seem to
61 The critiques of the hyper masculine hero in DR and the civilizing of the Arab hero by the white heroine generally do not take into account the roles of the hero and heroine in romances. Both a British hero and an Arab hero will most likely be described as dark and fore male who is Othered in romances, but all males. The heroine of a DR does civilize the rough edges o f the hero and teach him to love. Now that I have described the conventions of the romance genre, I will turn to DR novels. Current DR emerges from both the legacy of the romance genre and the historical environment of U.S. (and western) cultural interest in the Middle East. Both of these legacies come together to make the DR phenomenon possible. Before examining the specific content of DR novels, I will address the historical context of representations of the Middle East in the twentieth and twenty first c enturies that made novels such as the iconic The Sheik ( [ 1919 ] 1977 ) both imaginable and extremely popular. As The Sheik has had such a lasting influence in the U.S. on both representations of the Middle East and the romance genre I will devote several pag es to this famous, or infamous, n ovel The Sheik and Legacies of Middle East Representations While several Arabian themed novels were published in the early 20 th century 8 British author E.M. (Edith Maude) Hull 's novel, The Sheik (1919) popularized the Desert 8 The GardenOf Allah (1904), The Call of the Blood (1906), The Will of Allah (1908), The Spell of Egypt (1910).
62 Romance genre. The novel placed on Publishers Weekly 's top ten best sellers in 1921 and 1922 and sold over 1.2 million copies worldwide. In its first year the novel went through thirty one printings. The Sheik widely read novels of t and Hull followed up its success with The Shadow of the East (1921) and Sons of the Sheik (1925). Cultural critic Jack Shaheen (1984) Middle East can b e traced back to this popular novel and subsequent film (Shaheen 1984, 13 ). Current romance writers have also emphasized the legacy of The Sheik for romance novels of all genres 9 Cultural historian Melani McAlister ( 2005 ) argues The Sheik emerges a t a point when U.S. popular curiosity in the Middle East was shifting from a predominantly sexual freedoms. Cultural phenomenon such as publication of The Sheik the film vers (1926) 10 acted as catalysts for these changes. The Orient, long associated with sexuality, luxur y, and irrationality fit well with corporate desires to cultivate a mass American consumer culture. Store fronts and 9 On the 2001 edition cover of The Sheik best first or the romance boom in the 1970 s (Regis 117). 10 Revolt in the Desert (abridged version of Seven Pillars of Wisdom) was publi shed in 1926, selling over 100,000 copies. Lowell Thomas, a journalist of the time, drew large travelled the world speaking to audiences of over 4 million (Mc Alister 25).
63 displays called upon Oriental motifs to capture the American consumer, particularly hairstyles, and architecture became popular in the U.S. as well as Europe. Films and novels featuring the adventurous li The film version of The Sheik (1921) established actor Rudolph Valentino as a Hollywood heartthrob. By filming Valentino partially unclothed, backlit, and in soft focus, (techniques usually reserved for female stars) he became the feminized masculine object of female desire (McAlister  2005, 25). Both the novel and film versions of The Sheik do take on the overtly orientalist overtones as described by Said. Primaril y though the Arab characters, we see orientalism at work. The hero, Sheik Ahmed, is particularly noteworthy in his animal like and abusive manner toward the leading lady. The heroine, Diana Mayo, is a young, independent and eccentric English lady (The New Woman of the 1920 s) who has no interest in marriage. She decides to have a last adventure across the deserts of Algeria before joining her brother in America. On her first day trekking across the desert, her traveling party is attacked by Arab men on horse back. One of the men, Skeikh Ahmed Ben Hassan, grabs Diana, covers her head with a cloth and rides off with her. When they arrive at his encampment she demands to know what is going on. Why have you brought me here? Why have I brought you here? Bon Dieu! A re you not woman enough to know? I think you do. (57) The novel plays on the stereotype of the savage sex hungry Arab man who must chase after and force himself upon the white woman. Do these clichs feed off white
64 with ethnically marked film stars such as Rudolph Valentino Through the following chapters it bec omes clear that Ahmed has raped Diana. She is both angry and terrified at her predicament, but sees no way of escape. In Arabic, English, and French, well groomed, and his tent is stocked with academic think of a rapist as a gentleman, the authors must continually emphasize a well known 1999 96). Diana begins to venture outside the tent and test the waters for escape. On a day by Ahmed. It is upon her recapture that she discovers her feelings for him ha ve superb animal strength. And he was an Arab!. Aubrey [her brother] would have  1977 133). Diana falls in love with Ahmed only to be captured by a rival sex crazed sheikh. Although both kidnappers, Hull is clear in distinguishing Ahmed from the slovenly rival sheikh. Ahmed puts himself in great danger to rescue Diana. The pair returns to their encampment, but Ahmed is seriously wounded. After his recovery Ahmed realizes his true feelings for Diana and decides to let her go out of love. She begs to stay with him, but he resists. It is not until she attempts to kill herself out of despair that they reconcile and live and love the remainder of their days in the desert.
65 The Sheik some romance scholars argue that writers and publishers of the time believed readers wanted passionate stories, but would not accept premarital sex. Therefore, if the virginal heroine was forced into it, she would be absolved of any guilt and maintain her innocence (Thurston 1987 78). However, the rape fantasy has persisted even after audiences have accepted premar 1999 92). In The Sheik British father mistreated and abandoned his pregnant Spanish mother which has instilled within him a disdain for all things British. Capturing and tormenting Diana becomes a source for revenge wrapped up in a delectable package. e exotic East and savage Arab man fall comfortably western woman writing about a Middle East she has never personally seen or tional and reinforce stereotypes of the Middle East. Hull also places the Middle East as inferior to the West in this East West binary. recite French poetry. His more p rimitive harsh side is formed by the Algerian desert. He only becomes a realized mate for the white heroine once the readers learn that he is not really an Arab at all, but a European of noble blood. The only break The Sheik makes Orientalism i western female ultimately chooses East over West.
66 McAlister notes the shifts in U.S. interest in the Middle East (from religious to exot ic consumer culture in the 1920 s) a lters once again. Fr om the 1940 s onward (following the creation of Israel, the Arab Israeli wars, and the oil boom), the Middle East was framed (in the media and popular culture venues) primarily by the political tensions between the U.S. and Middle Eastern countries. The rep resentations of the mid to late twentieth century 11 combined elements of the exotic adventuring along with overtly political images of greedy oil tycoons and religious crazed terrorists. The DR novels of this era (196 0 s to 2001) draw upon both of these rep rese ntational histories in which Pre 9/ 11 Novels In addition to The Sheik I read eight other pre 9/11 DR: The Jewelled Caftan Lo rd of the Desert (1990), Hostage of the Hawk (1995), and The Desert Bride (1996) representative of these older pre 9/11 novels in the vein of The Sheik. In my analysis, I have found that many of the plot devises in The Sheik were carried over into other pre 9/11 novels with the exception of rape. As rape scenes were not included in other DR, but have been included in other early subgenres of romances 12 I am led to believe rape as a plot devise has much more to do with when the novel was published than which subgenre it fall under. When Desert Romance author, Connie Mason, was asked 11 See Shaheen (1984 and 2001 and 2008), Terry (1985), Gottschalk and Greenberg ( 2008 ), Nacos and Torres ( 2007 ). 12 American historical romance, The Flame and the Flower (1972).
67 devise, sh e replied: I don't believe any author enjoys writing rape, tortures or forced sexual encounters in their books today. I don't know why certain authors wrote them in the early years of romance, but it didn't last long. Heroines today are strong, independent women who are faithful to their one love. The same holds true for heroes. Once they meet the heroine, they remain faithful. Mostly, anyway. (Mason 2000 ). The commonalities between The Sheik and the seven pre 9/ 11 novels converge around 1) the ethnicity of religion and 5) the degree of cultural sensitivity. The pre 9/ 11 hero is characterized by his Arab ethnicity, but white (or partially white) racial identity. Novel covers (which usually show th e hero and heroine) offer insight in the presentation of the hero. In the and western features (in the vein of Lawrence of Arabia). Just as with The Sheik these pr e 9/11 romances reveal by the novels conclusion that the hero is not fully Arab. His father might be Arab while his mother is usually British or French. This trend of the ime with miscegenation. The pre 9/11 sheikh hero is often a hyper alpha male, such as Ahmed in The Sheik While all alpha males in romances are by design imposing, take charge men, the hyper alpha hero takes these traits to an extreme. More common of old er romances, these heroes can even be physically or emotionally abusive to the heroine prior to their reconciliation (again, as in the case of Ahmed). Just as with the inclusion of rape in early romances, the hyper alpha males are more indicative of when a novel was written rather than the subgenre.
68 While fictional locations for the novels are the norm, a higher percentage of the novels prior to 9/11 were set in actual countries, as was the case with The Sheik (set in Algeria). Of the eight pre 9/11 novels I read, nearly half were set in non fictional locations. I believe this reflects the context in which readers consumed th ese novels. Readers in the 1970 s, s perhaps had less awareness and certainly less access to information about the Middle E ast than readers today. Authors could place a setting in an actual country without as much regard for the political climate or leaders of those countries. The pre internet reading environment meant it was difficult for readers to fact check information in the novels. Readers today have greater access to information about foreign countries. The pre 9/11 novels are likely to mention religion and religious differences between the hero and heroine. When religion is mentioned in these older novels, the reader of ten learns that although Islam is practiced by most people in his country, the hero, for a variety of reasons, is not a Muslim, but a Christian. Just as revealing the hero was not really Arab, revealing he is not really Muslim may have served to assuage fe ars (whether readers, writers, publishers or all three is unclear) of interfaith marriages. The pre 9/11 DR I read have a widely diverging range of cultural sensitivity and respect for the culture being described. A few of the novels describe the local cul ture with respect, a few with veiled disdain (usually through the character of the heroine), and a few with neither malicious nor sensitively constructed representations. Overall, the pre 9/11 novels present the West as superior in comparison to the East. As all of these novels became published, it seems regulating the degree of cultural sensitivity
69 respect more likely stemmed from the individual authors. The pre 9/11 nov els conform in many ways to the orientalist tropes of The Sheik I argue significant differences between the pre 9/11 and post 9/11 novels exist and are worth reviewing. 13 Since 9/11, the sheikh hero (both in terms of racial identity and behavior), the sett ing, religious references, and the overall level of respect toward the local culture described has altered. I will address these changes momentarily. In addition to substantive differences between pre and post 9/11 novels, the production of DR novels dra ma tically increased in the 2000 s. Of the 275 DR novels I collected information on, 198 (72%) were published after 2001, with a 500% increase fr om novels published in the 1990s to the 2000 s. Table 1 1 Number of D esert R omances published by d ecade Decade Nu mber DR Published 1960 1969 1 1970 1979 5 1980 1989 12 1990 1999 32 2000 2009 161 2010 2012 40 13 Although I am pl acing 9/11 as a marker separating the earlier from the more recently published DR, the time period between these two types of DR is more blurred than a single date will allow. Some changes in the presentation of DR can be seen before 9/11 and older tropes can be seen in DR published after 9/11. However, I find it useful to keep 9/11 as a distinguishing marker as the overall trends and changes in the novels do fit this temporal marker.
70 The significant jump in the popularity of the DR coincides with political developments of the past decade. I suggest the events of 9/11 and the subsequen t wars in Iraq and Afghanistan correlate with the popularity of the genre. It is safe to say that Americans today have a greater exposure to this elusive thing called the Middle East from constant news feeds about the region. Greater exposure does not mean that the awareness is always operating consciously. Katherine Orr, vice president for public relations at Harlequin, stated the jump in DR is simply a coincidence, and ha s nothing to do with world news (Reardon 2006). Marilyn Shoemaker, a DR fan in Seatt 2007 novel sheiks are more often featured on book covers in Western style clothing or shirtless rather than in their traditional Arab believes DR are growing in popularity she responded to 9/11, the leap in production in the early 2000 s cannot be discounted. I will return to questions of DR relationship to current events though content analysis of the novels and interviews with readers (chapter four). Post 9/11 Novels DR are a white western, and more specifically American and Briti sh, phenomena, at least among the writers. Of the known authors, nearly all (97%) are western
71 Caucasian women. 14 This demographic information on the authors is consistent with pre 9/11 novels as well, except for the recent addition of an Fijian New Zealand (Nalini Singh) author and African American author (Brenda Jackson), which break the white, but not western mold of authorship. Changes in the H ero Overwhelmingly the novels contain a white western heroine and an Arab man. Of the leading ladies, 90% are wh ite western women (92% if including mixed heritage). The racialization of the heroine has slightly altered in recent years. Prior to 9/11 only three of the heroines were from a non white or mixed heritage. In more recent years, twenty two of the heroines are non white, including an African American heroine and Asian American heroine, in addition to twenty Arab heroines since 2002. In her analysis of the Arab women in DR novels Jarmakani (2010) writes: In the sheikh subgenre, however, these qualities are on ly expressed through the character of the white heroine, while the specter of the silent and oppressed Arab woman haunts the novel as a compelling absent presence. She serves as a convenient, nonthreatening foil through which the essential qualities of the white heroine can be emphasized. (1003). While Jarmakani portrays Arab women in these novels only as foils for the white heroine, she fails to locate the growing number of Arab heroines in DR. Just as with the white western heroine, the Arab heroine assum es the conventional romance role of the sassy heroine who brings the hero to his knees. 14 Two known men have been involved in writing DR. One husband and wife te am write under the pen name Emma Darcy and one man wrote under the pen name Christina Nicholson. For the full chart of information describing these statistics please see Appendix C.
72 All of the heroes are Arab men 15 In the pre 9/11 novels most of the heroes appear as Caucasian men in Arab robes and are exposed by the novels conclusion as not truly not really Arab at all ng fourteen years later, agrees that only a submersed racial identity, can make the sheikh palatable for audiences. On the contrary, though the sheikh character has a long history of commodification in the United States, what makes him consumable for a ma instream white audience in the post 9/11 context is a submersion of overt racial marker s. (900). In contrast, the vast majority of post 9/11 heroes (98%) are fully Arab. The reader is proudly ethnically and racially Arab and remains so throughout the passages in the novel. However, the post 9/11 novel covers generally show the hero with darker dep icting a white hero in Arab clothing. 16 Do these findings suggest publishers/readers/writers in the 20 th century were more concerned about racial differences between the hero and heroine, but less concerned about ethnic differences than current readers and writers? Perhaps discomfort with miscegenation has lessened as discomfort with ethnically Arab markers (such as robes and kufiyas) has increased. When I asked author, Kate Hardy, what she believed was the appeal of these novels for 15 Desert romances, also known as Sheikh Romances, are defined by the Arab hero. Technically, a romance novel is not a DR without an Arab hero (in the older novels while he was not racially Arab, he was still ethnically Arab) A novel set in the Middle East with a non Arab hero would just become a romance set in the Middle East, not a DR (Sheikh romance). 16 Please see Appendix D for examples of novel covers.
73 I think it's the exotic location and the flowing robes! (Having said that, my editor asked if I could do one almost without robes, making him a very W esternised Sheikh. Arab dress and hig hlight his compatibility with western ways. The DR hero has changed not only in looks, but in temperament. Romance readers today, of all genres, are less willing to read novels with hyper alpha heroes. r that contemporary mass market romances focusing on the sheikh hero engage readily with the specter of the terrorist figure, though invocations of the terrorist figure do not in any way preclude authors from invoking the fierce desert man and greedy oil s description of the hero appears much more violent and horrific than the heroes I have encountered in post 9/11 novels. Heroes like Ahmed from The Sheik do not exist in contemporary DR novels. While the hero may still be a rou gh around the edges alpha male, it is unlikely a reader will come across an emotionally abusive hero. 17 The contemporary DR hero is in many respects like all other alpha heroes, although the exotic Otherness of the hero is certainly heightened in many DR no vels. In describing the appeal of writing an Arab sheikh hero, current DR authors Jen Lewis and Marguerite Kaye shared : Well, t element of exoticism in the appeal of the sheikh, dating back to the silent movie with Rudolf Valentino. Dramatic landscapes, striking architecture and rich fabrics, fierce and uncompromising men raised in a harsh and demanding environment, who can only be tamed by that one woman strong enough to rule their heart is getting hot in here? 17 I found one post 9/11 exception, Girl (2009) by Sharon Kendrick.
74 Once I started writing I realised why Sheiks are so popular as heroes! versed in the arts of Lewis and Kaye d western heroes. Penny Jordan describes the connection she likes to create between the hero and the broader culture an d landscape. I tend to create a background for the hero in particular which will allow me to reflect certain aspects of his character, to which readers can easily relate. The backdrop can be a form of shorthand that communicates immediately with the reade r. ie if the blurb says a book has a sheikh hero the reader immediately has a sense of what that hero will be. I tend to create heros whose family history comes from regions of the world in which historically it has been necessary for the man at the head o f a family to be a strong leader in order to protect the interests of his 'people'. Changes in Setting Unlike the pre 9/11 novels where roughly 25% of the novels settings are actual Middle Eastern countries, the vast majority of the post 9/11 novels ( 88 % ) take place in 18 Authors give several reasons for the appeal of fictional settings. In an online interview, DR author Susan Mallory suggests that the image in the media of the real Middle East is too tumultuous for audiences The real world of the Middle East is complex and difficult. There are religious differences and deadly conflicts. My books are about taking people away from the real world. So I created my own countries where my no religious issues, no war, no disagreements, except between the hero and heroine. ( Shoemaker 2009 ). personal opinions is echoed by romance writers Cristie Craig and Faye Hu ghes (2008) in their advice to aspiring romance authors: 18 Of the novels that do use real locations, the majority are historical r omantic fiction.
75 Don't get carried away with using your setting as an opportunity to comment on the society's ills as you see them. Most romance readers are looking to be entertained, not to be lectured. Losing sight of the romance in favor of espousing your views on a particular subject would likely result in your book being tossed aside assuming, that is, it ever got past an editor in the first place.(169). Today, readers are increasingly aware and/or have easy ac cess to knowledge about real locations in the Middle East. While Morocco may have seen like an unknown distant country before, today it is very easy for people to find out information about any country with the click of the mouse. One of the authors I inte rviewed, Penny Jordan, chose Kuwait as the setting for her first novel, (1978) and a fictional country for her more recent, Possessed by the Sheikh (2009 ). As Jordan has been writing romances for over 30 years, she can offer a unique perspect ive between the different socio political contexts in which she wrote. My book set in Kuwait was written before both authors and readers travelled as much as they do today and pre internet. I researched my background via newspaper articles etc and chose Ku wait because it was a Western friendly Arab country. These days I use fictional kingdoms as this works better for keeping the characters free of religious issues and allows me to blend in a variety of facts and information. However very often my descript ions of weather conditions etc are those I have experienced myself in Dubai. Also, in using a fictional location, authors are free from worries of inaccurately representing a specific location or offending any real individuals in Arab countries. While Mall Mostly because some plot turns require the freedom of not having a real country. I n eeded to play with historical events to fit my book, and I can only do that with a fictional country. Also, when I talk about bandits, or villains high in the government, I wouldn't want to offend any real people. Every people are proud of their country. I wouldn't appreciate to read books where the U.S. was put down, and I won't write books that would shine a less than favorable light on another country. I'm currently working on a trilogy about
76 undercover agents fighting against the drug and gun trade in S outh America. I chose to use a fictional co untry there as well. Chris Doyle of the Council for Arab British Understanding dismisses the fictional set cheesy, inaccurate rubbish. They are as far removed from the reality of the Middle East as one can imagine. For a long time it has been an urba n culture, not a desert culture. If one writes a love story set in the United States, there is no fantasy state or city created. By and large readers can glean some idea of 2006 ). While his criticism of the fictional settings in the novels is understandable, Doyle does not acknowledge that an American writer setting a novel in America she experiences daily is not comparable to an American writer placing a novel in the a Middle Eastern setting where she (and her readers) are not as familiar with all of the intricate experiences that would make up a setting. One response to this c onundrum would be to suggest that writers should not attempt to represent others, but write only within their own background and personal experiences. Not only would this advice be it does not these representations are situated in time and space. We cannot create a tabula rasa in which all knowledge and representations of the Other are wiped clean and we can all face each other as part of a common humanity in which there is no historical legacy of difference and the meaning attached to that difference. The question should not remain in the theoretical realm of whether or not individuals should repre sent Others, but recognize that people do engage in representation and look instead at what those representations are and how they are interpreted.
77 Eastern countries then re aders would have a better understanding of that society. In some respects, keeping the location fictional is more honest than choosing an actual location. Through their fictional countries writers are pronouncing they are writing a piece of fantasy fiction Writers have legitimate concerns about using actual locations for their novels. Furthermore, while I would not claim readers gain a historically or culturally accurate picture of the Middle East through these novels, it does not mean they are completely their writing process and several had actual travel experiences in the Middle East 19 While I recognize research and travel does not equate to open minded assessment s, I writers do take their craft seriously. Authors Jen Lewis and Dana Marton respectively respond: I love to research and do a lot of research for every book I write. On e excellent piece of advice I learned early on regarding foreign settings, is to get you started and not so much that you get overwhelmed by information about gross domestic produ ct. When I was preparing to write Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and Yemen, which were helpful to me in forming a picture of the Arabian Gulf region and the differences between the countries and their cultures and dress. Then I went online and researched details I wanted for my book, including the excavation of an ancient Silk Road city. I also explored the geography of coastal Salalah, Oman, which led me to discover the Fog Mountain s, the painted fishing dhows in the harbor, etc, which made t heir way into my book 19 Penny Jordan and Theresa Southwick had travelled in the Middle East, while Dana Marton, Jen Lewis and Kate Hardy had not, but were interested or already planning a trip.
78 I did a lot of research, read books, even talked to an American friend who lived in the Middle East for years (due to her husband's job). I love history and different cultu res, so the research was a pleasure. I collected photographs, cut images from travel magazines and made myself a montage to get me into that frame of mind. I researched desert survival and nomadic cultures. Although the books are a carefully painted fantas y, I did want to make sure that readers feel that the characters are real, and that their love story is somethin g that could really happen. When I asked Penny Jordan and Kate Hardy if they conducted research before writing their novels they answered respec tively: I've always been intereste d in Arab culture and geography right from the time of the Crusasders onwards as I enjoy reading historical fiction and biographies I try to keep abreast of modern developments in the Arab world I've visited Dubai seve ral times, and bought there books written about the culture. I particularly recommend books such as Don't they know it's Friday and Mother without a Veil which give good insights into Arab culture.. I also research the history of Arab and European culture for background for my characters. The French in particular were very well established in th e desert at one time. Yes, I did research language and culture I wanted to make my fictional country as real as possible. (I've always enjoyed languages, so it was great fun to learn a bit of Arabic.) In addition to trying to re create a believable physical and cultural landscape for country. Hardy was not the only one to stu dy the Arabic language before writing. Roughly one third of the novels I read included actual Arabic phrases in the text. Unlike some films 20 that use made up gibberish in place of Arabic or news which places the Arabic language only in the context of viole nce and religious extremism, these novels use Arabic in benign or romantic ways. 20 For example the 1985 film Back to the Future produced by Steven S peilberg.
79 Changes in Religious References Islam is more likely to be mentioned in earlier novels than in recent ones. As mentioned previously, earlier references to religion were primar ily made to separate the hero from Islam. In most recent novels religion is not mentioned at all. In the instances villain represents religious extremism and violence while the hero represents an honorable and pious Muslim man. In these particular novels the caricature of the Islamic terrorist is certainly reinforce, but at the same time, authors are careful to foil t he negative depiction with a positive one through the hero. Dana Marton writes: Religion is a touchy subject. I think some authors leave it out to make sure not to offend anyone. I include it, but make sure I treat it with respect. I do respect all religio ns. If I write a sheik hero then he must obey Muslim customs. Otherwise he wouldn't be authentic. I write heroes of all backgrounds and religions, and I write villains of all backgrounds and religions. I think all nations have wonderful individuals and som e people who are true villains. It's important to treat everyone with respect and fairness. Changes in Cultural S ensitivity Just as post 9/11 DR novels are more careful with the presentation of religion, the more recent novels display a greater sense of cu ltural sensitivity toward the Middle recent novels show a greater appreciation for differences the setting provides. While the country, she also notes occasions when the West could learn from the East. This is most apparent in reference to familial relat ions. While the West is presented as cold
80 (both literally and metaphorically) and driven by greed, the Middle Eastern country is presented as warm, inviting, loving. Honor and family connections and loyalty are admired by a heroine who believes she has see n too little of these traits in her western home. The Desert Romance Novel While shifts in DR between pre and post 9/11 romances are apparent, orientalist narratives are still highly visible in current DR. Through the exotic locale (filled with camels, goa t skin tents, souks, and palaces), the strong powerful rich Arab man and the feisty western heroine a distinction between East and West is maintained. If one is looking for orientalist elements in these novels, unsurprisingly, you will find them. However, upon closer examination, more is at work on the pages. These post 9/11 novels present contesting images of both traditional orientalist tropes along with a presenting the East a s inferior to the West, a portion of the post 9/11 novels present difference with equality, a notion both Said and Todorov would welcome. In this section I will turn to passages in the novels to highlight the ways in which the post 9/11 DR conform and disr upt a traditional orientalist reading. As Pamela Regis suggests, despite conforming standards, variety of form still exists in these novels 21 Nevertheless, there are enough commonalities in the novels to discuss them together. Although the outliers (such a s the only novel written by and 21 27 of 30 take place in Arabia, while 3 take place almost entirely in the West. 27 of the 30 heroines are western (one of which is African American and one is Arab American) while 3 are Arab. Of the heroes, all 30 are Arab ( although one of them is an ancient Egyptian /Arab vampire god) 9 of the 30 novels use at least a partial kidnapping or hostage scenario (although very few are overt kidnappings like The Sheik ). In most of the novels (23 out of 30) the hero and heroine did not know each other p rior to the meeting at the start of the novel.
81 featuring an African American heroine ) 22 would make for interesting lines of inquiry on their own, I will focus on the most commonly reoccurring themes. The novels follow in he reader is apprised of both the lacking. The heroine is often unhappy in her current environment or cannot find any decent western men she wants to date. The hero has his ca reer (and oftentimes kingdom) to occupy him, but he is emotionally scarred and/or unfulfilled. When the hero and heroine meet in DR novels it is often under stressful conditions which cause tension and miscommunication between the two. For example, in seve ral novels, the heroine is kidnapped by bandits and the unknown hero stumbles upon the situation and saves her, but he may have to do so in a way that limits her trust in him (such as pretending to be one of the bad guys). Despite the obstacles to the rela tionship, both real and emotional, the couple falls in love. While overcoming the barrier to other romance novels may purely be overcoming emotional baggage, in the DR a material reason exists for why the two may not end up toget her (such as class or cultu ral difference). The hero is usually an Arab Sheikh/Prince while the heroine is an average middle class western woman. His duties to his title are initially in conflict with his feelings for the heroine. Eventually they defy the odds, declare their love, a nd marry (if they are not already married). The epilogue includes a scene of marital bliss with one or two children in tow. The typical heroine is an attractive western white woman who is either American, British or Australian. She is usually a career woma n who comes to the Middle Eastern country on business. As with other sub genres of romance, she is spunky, independent, 22 Brenda Jackson, (2002).
82 and ready to open up the heart of the hero with her love. The typical hero is an attractive wealthy Arab man who is either the ruling sh eikh or connected to the ruling family. He is the quintessential alpha male: dark, serious, commanding, used to getting his way, a match for the heroine in stubbornness and wit. While the heroine allows him to open up and explore his emotions, he introduce s the typically virginal heroine to physical pleasure. In some very real ways, these novels do line up with an orientalist reading. Particularly at the sites of 1) the more earthy/primitive hero, 2) the exoticized environment, and 3) the emphasis on modern ity, particularly when influenced by the western heroine, we can see orientalist elements at work in which Arabs become exotic Others and western notions of progress are often seen as the road to success for the emerging Arab country. Examples from the nov els do confirm these trends. I have chosen selections from the novels to highlight what I have found as representative of the orientalist aspects of the DR genre. While the hero may be sophisticated and worldly, he is often described at some point in the novel as primitive or animal like. Although describing the hero as primitive or animal like is a hall mark of any genre of romance with an alpha male hero, by comparing the racially and ethnically marked Arabs to white western men a specific Arab othering occurs. In (2000), Dora describes Prince Khalil: she could believe that he was more close to his animal nature th an many Western men. But, she still truste which is what Gerald had done. (37).
83 When Melanie from The Arabian Love Child (2002) meets her former lover, Arab in every way yo u wished to look at him. Make an Arab look a fool and you win yourself a life with Rafiq to his home country, her best friend warns her: ock you away there while he Of course, it is not only the hero who is exotisized, but the environment as well. In Possessed by the Sheikh (2005 ) by Penny Jordan, heroine and hero, Katrina and Xander discuss the differences between the desert and the rest of the civili zed world. The desert becomes a world unto its own where normal legal or social rules no longer apply. Immediately Xander took hold of her arm, giving her a small shake as he did so. as her shocked emotions burst through the frail barriers of self control. is a harsh master and those who inhabit it live by its harsh law or die ( 71. ) The environment also becomes marked as exotic and different through less harsh, but equally stereotypical images. In Stolen by the Sheikh (2005) by Trish Morey Sheikh Khaled Al Ateeq leaves on an overnight trip into the desert to meet with leaders from the desert tribes and insists the heroine, Sapphy, come along. The vehicles can
84 only go so far into the desert before the party must continue the journey on came ls. made up of sexy belly dance costume covered up by the conservative abaya, hijab, and burka (119). ional 2003, 23). In her analysis of DR, Evelyn Bach suggests these familiar props are used to authenticate the rest of the story. She believes once an audience is comfortable with the familiar tropes they associate with the Middle East, it is easier to believe and follow along with the rest of the novel The appeal of the setting for the heroine lies not only in difference, but in opulence. All of the heroes, whether sheikhs or not, are in positions of power and enjoy unusual wealth. Their surroundings are well above anything the heroine is accustomed to and provide a source of intimidation as well as luxury. I n To Kiss a Sheikh ( Southwick 2003) heroine Crystal looks on in awe. palace. Marble floors, grand staircases, a fountain in the foyer, lush gardens. There were sinfully expensiv e furnishings and gold fixtures everywhere priceless art, paintings, vases and tapestries, oh my. (19). The third site at which these novels do confirm stereotypes is the use of the western heroine as a means of bringing the East into modernity. The heroi ne at times
85 assists the Arab country particularly in the domain of gender relations. Dora ( The 2000 ) eventually convinces the King to place greater emphasis ning (225) Dora even e arns the Desert Warrior ( Singh 2003) claims she will personally have a law repealed which allows the Sheik more than one wife (111). Sheikh Jamal, from 02), doubt in his mind that with her Western views she would be a breath of fresh air Jarmakani (2010) believes the heroine can offer the possibility of modern izing the East for the sake of peaceful co Through romantic fantasy, they present the possibility of resolution between the West (usually Canada, the United States, Britain, or While it would be convenient to say that orientalist or racist tropes is all that is operating in these novels, it is simply untrue. As we have seen, the novels often portray a hero who is hyper masculine when compared to western men, but he is also port rayed as more loyal, honorable, and ultimately desirable than western men. The heroine ultimately always chooses the Arab hero over a western man. Second, the setting of the novel is often exoticized with props such as camels and tents making their way int o the novels or essentialized by making sweeping claims about gender relations, modernity, etc. Nonetheless, the physical, social and cultural environment is also
86 admired by the heroine, and in some ways preferable to her own western home. She usually choo ses to live in the Arab country over her own. Third, the heroine often does modernizing and integrating in to the world system on its own terms. In certain novels, the hero even c ritiques the western model of modernization and the ways in which the western world has exploited other areas of the globe. While the hero may be presented as dark, brooding and exotic, he also exhibits admirable qualities that set him apart from other men the heroine has known. Upon to meeting the hero in To Kiss A Sheik ( Southwick 2003) is typical. She finds him not only incredibly attractive and alluring, but d ifferent than other men she has met. This difference is centered around his aura, powerful position, and ethnicity. He was the flesh and blood definition of tall dark and wow. He could be the model for the handsome prince in a fairy tale. Smiling politely, he extended his hand. Just as Clark Kent was invulnerable to anything but Kryptonite, she was impervious to the charms of your average, ordinary, everyday, run of the mill normal hunk. But Fariq Hassan was so not average, ordinary, everyday or normal. (7 11). In addition to his looks, the hero is also particularly honorable, loyal, and trustworthy, unlike the disastrous relationships she may have previously had with western men. In many of these novels the tables are turned. Rather than the stereotype o f the Arab men mistreating women, the western men are the ones who have either mistreated the heroine or simply did not measure up to the qualities of her sheikh hero. The western man ends up unfaithful, dishonest, or uninteresting while the Arab man, at f irst may appear domineering, becomes the honorable man worthy of her love. In Stolen by the Sheikh ( Morey 2005) we learn:
87 This was a different man. A real leader of his people, who ensured their ongoing existence in the style of life they had been accustom ed to since ancient times. He could have forced them to abandon their way of life and move to the cities in the name of progress, simply by not supplying them with modern medicine and education. Yet he was ensuring the continued existence and preservation of their separate and special way of life. And from his reception here he was clearly well loved and re spected as their leader. ( 113) Julia in Sheik Protector ( Marton 2008) discu ss why Julia put herself in danger to help Karim, he responds : will do what you must. You dislike me, but you protected me. So you have ause 92) gender equality varies widely among the books. On one extreme, in gin Stable Girl ( Kendrick 2009 ) the hero Kaliq is a complete misogynist. On the more progressive end (represented below), these heroes exhibit a commitment to pursuing gender equality in their personal lives and their kingdoms. In ride ( Mallory 2000 ) the King chastises his son, mentioned earlier, in this matter
88 Hero Karim tells Lily in Surrender to the Playboy Sheikh ( Hardy 2009 ) that the sexism inherent in this law, Karim responds: born, you have a different take on things, he said, succession laws. My father and grandfather have taken a modern approach in t hat women in Harrat Salma have the right to an education and the want to. If they want to stay home and care for their family, then that is an few men do that even here 144). In West 2007 ) Belle, a marine biologist, reflects on her career and experiences with western men. Arab hero Sheikh Fariq encourages her to pursu e her career after they marry. mind I thought interesting option: keeping you secreted in my harem. Seeing no men but give up your career and devote yourse lf entirely to me?. .No?. What a when my parents wed. She contin ued to run clinics all th rough their 127 128 ). Here Rafiq pokes fun at the assumptions made about Arab men. He uses a western time period, the Midd le Ages, to describe a backward view of women, rather
89 than putting this view in a Middle Eastern context. These passages break down essentializing notions of Arab men as x and western men as y. We see eastern cultures in these novels can in some ways be equally or more liberating for the heroine. The heroine grows to love both the hero and his home c ountry. The landscape, like the hero, speak to the heroine in a way that her western environment does not. In Bodyguard Confessions ( Young 2007 ) the country, Taer, is described positively as a traditional and religious country that looks after its poor an d needy. The heroine Anna cool bursts over the sand dunes, now washed in pink and gold h ues from the fading 108). Heroine Sapphy, in Stolen by the Sheik ( Morey 2 005 ) falls in love with the rugged desert upon arriving in Jebbai: Sapphy content to gaze out of the windows and drink in the view, finding even the passing dunes and rock formations fascinating, barely able to contain her excitement at the harsh beauty o landscape was like a breath of fresh air. She looked over to him, surprised by his words danger what gives it the edge over, say, a landscape of green hills and valleys? There the land is lush and fertile, beautiful in its own way, yet soft and safe. Whereas this place has colour and drama and magnificence that goes hand in hand with danger. ( 42. ) In this passage, the heroine uses her description of the geography as a mirror for her feelings about the hero. Just as the land is a little more intense than the safe bet of of mate, but one that always pays off in the end
90 The novels that address religion are careful to portray Islam, as practiced by either the hero or bedouins as honorable and peaceful. Any references to political or religious terrorists are placed in the context of individual extremists. These novels, written and read in the context of nightly news discussing Islam in association with terrorism, offer an alternative to Islam equals terrorism discourse. The majority of references to Islam are benign or posi tive encounters and are clearly separated from the actions of terrorists. In Sheik Protector (Marton 2008) the villains are religious zealots ready to kill anyone in possession of false idols that existed prior to Islam. These villains are contrasted with the hero who prays to Allah for guidance and help in thwarting the villains. In Bodyguard Confessions (Young 2007) the hero Quamar and a secondary character, Farad, are openly religious Muslims. Their honorable religiosity is contrasted against the non r eligious villains of the story, terrorists attempting to stage a coup against the current government for monetary gain. In ( West 2007 ) Rafiq draws attention to criminals who claim to be traditional and religious but really mask a different agenda. ing with the sanction of revered community elders, but 79). Earlier I gave exa mples of ways in which the heroine helps the hero and his country along the western path to modernity. While that is a common narrative devise in DR, there are also mom ents when the hero works toward integrating his country into the
91 world economy on his ow respect to tradition and the natural environment. As the head of tourism, Sheik Shafir in The Untamed Sheik ( Radley 2009) makes sure Dhahara is integrated into the global system and is seen as a d esirable place to natural beauty and resources will not be spoiled by increased traffic (8). S hafir also shares with Megan how Dhahara comes out the winner in trade agreements with the hand crafted goods. The riches of the land are shared by all. The cheap things they [the desirability of U.S. products, and claims all the people of Dhahara are able to enjoy a higher material quality of life, unlike the U.S. A socialist prince, perhaps? Hero Xander of Possessed by the Sheikh ( Jordan 2005), brother to the King, has undergone a mission to promote better understanding and better relations between Middle Eastern a nd western students. Unlike some novels which offer a model of the eastern sheik learning from the west, here we see an exchange of equals. Many of the environment and tradi gain will be shared by all. Sheikh Karim shares with Lily his strategies for introducing tourism into his country in Surrender to the Playboy Sheikh ( Hardy 2009 ) :
92 picked them over the last few months people whose work I like and whose beliefs fit with mine. People who believe in more than just a local people, local expertise engineers and builders and the like in the to be as carbon look a common sense and using our gifts wisely. We have a very special landscape, and it deserves conserving 104 105). Just as the heroine often helps the hero improve gender equality in his country, the hero offers his talents and experience to help the heroine grow in other ways. He teaches her about his culture and language, provides her with a model of a close knit family and in some cases even helps her grow spiritually. In many of the novels the hero helps the heroine learn and understand his one third of the novels. The language is put into a context of love and family relationships among the hero and his family and the heroine takes pride and joy in learning the language. and at times he helps the heroine make peace with god and herself. In Bodyguard Confessions (Young 2007) Quamar uses his faith to help Anna come to terms with and guilt that has pre vented her moving on with her emotional and spiritual self.
93 ( 171 ) The greatest gift the hero gives the heroine (besides of course finding true love in each other) is a strong and warm connection to family that is usu ally lacking in her western environment. The heroine, who may be orphaned or estranged from her own country, extended family live together under one roof and family of all generations come together regularly. The hero would take on any risk on behalf of his family or his country. The heroine is unaccustomed to this level of loyalty. In ( Mallory 2000) Dora is an orphan who is dumped by her fianc Fatima, who offers Dora advice and a listening ear throughout the novel. In Her Desert Family (Mc Mahon 2005) sibling as he is too busy running the family business. Widower Rashid not only has close family connections, but he has a young child. Bridget delights in spending time and his grandmother. In Desert Warrior (Singh 2009) parents and sister betrayed her and ruined her initial relationship with Tariq. When the hero and heroine meet again, years later, and renew their relationship, Jasmine is enveloped in a l oving family in which loyalty, not betrayal, is the norm. In Possessed by the Sheik (Jordan 2005) Xander puts his life on the line by going undercover to expose those who are trying to overthrow his secondary to the protection of his family.
94 The novels offer many more examples of loyal heroes whose family relationships are portrayed as healthier and more desirable to the heroine than her own. The Middle country. This greater emphasis on tradition can result in more restrictive gender norms than the heroine is accustomed to, but also represents a system of kin which results in close loving family relationships. These novels po rtray a way of life that is not conclusion, the heroine enters a new stage in her life that will be centered around her husband and children (and somehow she will squeeze a brilliant career in the mix as well). As family becomes her top priority, it is not surprising she happily chooses to A Closer Look at a Post Orientalist DR Novel In this final section I will highlight a DR that I believe disrupts many assumptions about these novels. What this novel does explicitly and on a large scale, other authors do on a smaller and more subtle scale. The overtly political and religious content in this novel offer us a chance to see how the a uthor addresses material that goes beyond the love story. Undercover Sheik (2006) by Dana Marton follows Sadie, an American M.D. working with Doctors Without Borders who are holding her for a five million dollar ransom from the U.S. government. As she knows the U.S. government will not negotiate with terrorists, she believes her life is over until a stranger, Nasir, saves her from the bandits. During their long travel back to the capital, Sadie learns that Nasir is brother to Saeed, the King of Beharrain. Their uncle, Majid, is working with bandits/terrorists to cause unrest and t ake the crown for himself. Nasir has been secretly tracking Majid and
95 his followers in ord er to save his family and country. The lives of the royal family and Sadie are in jeopardy multiple times, but in the end they are able to prevail over Majid and his followers. Throughout this plot, the romantic relationship between Nasir and Sadie develop s into love as both are able to appreciate one another as individuals and as members of equally rich cultures. Undercover Sheik is the ideal novel to explore the contradictions in Desert Romances. Does it contain many of the orientalist tropes such as kidn apping, wild untamed deserts, traditional Bedouin camps, magical natives, and a traditional alpha hero? Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. However we can clearly see an attempt by Marton to present a Middle East that is different (in all these above exotic ways) but an equal. gender roles, Nasir teaches Sadie the importance of family, honor, loyalty, and trust. In the passage below, Sadie compares the admirable qualities o f Nasir, with the not so admirable qualities of people she knows in the U.S. He had a strong sense of loyalty and honor that seemed almost archaic when compared to the type of people she was normally surrounded with. le at the hospital in Chicago, but lately it seemed more and more doctors were concerned only with their fees and their next promotion. (59.) In regard s to development, Nasir offers his version of a post colonial critique. Early on in the novel he reflects on the legacy of western involvement in the Middle East and clearly separates his devotion to tradition and religion from political or religious fanaticism. In general, he believed that the fewer foreigners in the country, the better. Most of them came to his part of the world for gain at the expense of his people. He was conservative and proud of it. There was much in his culture he wished to preserve. But he had nothing to do with this new breed of religious devotees who sought to rule by terror, pre ach purity in the
96 streets, then engage in the vilest acts o f immorality behind their walls. Nasir looked up to the ceiling of the tent and swore to Allah he would stop them. As long as there ran blood in his veins, he would protect his people and his f amily. And beyond them, he would protect all who needed his help. He was Bedu (37). In another passage Nasir questions Sadie on the superiority of the modern resulted from w estern interference: think. Right was right, the bedu code meant something. People were more raids and war. But it was Bedu you know? The foreigners changed there were tribes, trading, raiding, raising sheep and goats and camels. Running caravans They fought over wells and territories from time to time, She nodded, and he went on. Then foreigners came and the oil was found. And they said to one tribe, eat it, your She was silent, listening. was over, our peop le were deeply divided, and the oil rights belonged to keep the bitterness out of his voice.
97 se were the only foreigners we saw here, understand that when unethical corporations contaminated tribal grazing gover have nothing to do with the bandits and terror ists. We are more. We have scientists, architects, and poets. We love peace. We want to see our (141 ) In this novel, as well as others, we see a mix of traditionally orientalist tropes and, shall we call them, post ori entalist themes that are neither all essentializing or all emancipatory in representing the Middle East. The above passages, and others, show an obvious effort by authors to present a different kind of relationship with the Middle East. Rather than a relat ionship of pure domination and superiority by the West or a more subtle conversion of making the Middle East into a copied version of the West, some of the DR authors are describing a new relationship between East and West. One in which both cultures have something valuable to offer, both cultures can learn from one another, and both can co exist in difference and equality. Conclusion In this chapter I have placed DR analysis back into the context of the romance genre which I argue has as large of an influ ence on the narrative features in these novels as orientalist representative traditions. Claims of orientalism in the novels by DR scholars are sometimes simply features indicative of all romances. To draw conclusions on the texts, without placing them wit hin a broader context skews the meanings in the novels. My findings show that orientalist representations cannot be analyzed in a
98 vacuum. Representations are often multi faceted and part of broader cultural conversations. By acknowledging the connections b etween DR novels and the romance genre, I am able to provide a more thorough analysis that can more accurately describe when and how orientalist representations are present. I have also shown through a broader and more detailed assessment of the novels, th e ways in which they adhere to and break away from orientalist colonial critique of western imperialism is not the norm in DR, I have shown in various small ways how more recent DR novels are distancing themselves from earlier overtly racist representations of the Midd le East and are striving toward respectful cultural interactions between East and West through the narration of a love story. Of more importance than the existence of orientalism in the novels, is the quest ion of how those messages are used by people. Romance author Jayne Ann Krentz (1992) argues that romances are simply fantasies not meant to reflect reality and (2). She Other scholars find it is over simplistic to draw a clear distinction between fantasy and reality and precarious t o deny the effect images have on our daily lives. Writers such as feminist sociolo gist Patricia Hill Collins (2008 ) have written extensively on how a vacuum of the fantasy world, but permeate everyday discourse in ways that can be
99 dangerous. Similarly, in regards to the Orient, Edward Said ( 2003) Whether readers separate their fiction reading fro m reality and how they engage with these texts is not for us to speculate. Ultimately we need to interact with the readers themselves to learn if and how readers understand and use the information contained in the books. Is the appeal of DR in the exotic hero as author Jen Lewis suggests? I think that handsome powerful sheikhs are one of the tropes, like cowboys and Greek Tycoons, that readers enjoy and want to experience on an dist urbing news we tend to hear from that region and enjoy stories with Middle Eastern characters and settings. Is the appeal the appreciation of difference as author Dana Marton suggests? I think it's always fun to escape to another world and learn about anot her culture. Our differences make us interesting to each other. You hear so much about Middle Eastern culture, some things that are pretty far fetched even. I think people are curious about this world and love to travel there through a well written book. B oth authors indicate that these novels have the capacity to bring readers away the Middle East. While DR authors do reinforce certain stereotypes about the Middle East in their depictions, they see themselves as transcending racist stereotypes. How do readers express their interpretations of the novels and the Middle East? It is time to turn to the readers themselves and allow them to voice their experiences and opinions a bout these novels and the Middle East in their own words.
100 CHAPTER 4 READING THE DESERT ROMANCE confident feminist. The next, she is breathless, whimpering and whining, Gwen Kramer ) fictional character as much as I hate this sheik. The re's nothing redeemable about him at all and absolutely no reason why Diana would fall in love with him. He uses and abuses her. Diana needs some serious therapy and A. Woman ) tuates the absurd clichs of its age Jazz It Up Baby ) The above Amazon.com reviews reference the well known original D esert R omance (DR) The Sheik ( [ 1919 ] 1977 ) While this novel is honored as one of the iconic romance novels of all time, t he above scathing comments reflect a different view The Sheik opinions. The traditional mold for displaying male female relationships and the overt racism present in early DR novels such as The Sheik are found both problematic and depth interviews with several readers of the sub genre, we begin to see a desire for West relations in a different light. In this chapter, I will share the voices of DR readers to explore how readers think about these texts and the Middle East (ME) These voices com e from reviews of the novels on Amazon.com and open ended interviews I conducted. I will begin reviewing the generic appeal of the novels in comments from Amazon.com reviews before moving
101 on to the more Middle East/Arab specific information in both the on line reviews and the interviews I conducted. Through the responses we will see that readers are at times articulating a post orientalist view that contradicts Orientalism texts, the readers I engage have create d space for experiencing a taste of Said and ed audiences into stagnant ways of imagining the Middle East, but rather have helped open doors for new ways of imagining relations betwee n East and West. Methodology Polling data suggests, albeit in a generalized way, the overall feelings Americans have towa rd Islam and the Middle East are predominantly negative. 1 However, it would tions such as DR novels and general public opinion polls. We can only gain so much information from cultural representations and polling data. In order to explore the intersections and nuances between representations and their audiences, we must interact a nd listen to the voices of people. I have engaged with DR readers in two distinct ways. First, I collected the online Amazon.com reviews for the thirty novels I read in my sample. A total of 191 reviews have been published 2 for the thirty novels, several having zero reviews, several having over fifteen reviews, with an average of six to seven reviews per novel. While the Amazon reviews are an important contribution to insights on reader preferences and 1 See Appendix A 2 As of June 2012
102 expectations in the novels, they do not provide thorou thoughts about the Middle East and the representation of the Middle East in the novels. The Amazon comments are largely, although not entirely, apolitical with the readers focusing mostly on the budding romance between the hero and heroine. It was obvious that I needed to speak directly to readers to gain further insights. depth interviews with six DR fans. I found these readers primarily through online romance b logs and forums and by connecting with key informants who brought me into contact with other readers. While I imagine the number of DR fans to be quite high (based upon the incredibly increase in publications, blog sites, and DR Amazon page), I found reade rs reluctant to share their opinions with me about their reading. In addition to the usual reluctance of some people to give their time to a survey or interview, I have found that romance readers are particularly reluctant to engage with academic or publi c interest in their reading. For the most part, romance readers feel as though their reading choices and their personal character (because of their reading choices) are under attack. The mainstream media, literary critics and some feminists have all been g uilty of criticizing the romance genre and those who participate in romance reading. DR enthusiasts find themselves under additional scrutiny. In addition to the usual sex ist/patriarchal literature, DR enthusiasts are also labeled as taking part in racist/neo colonial/orientalist pop culture. Both academic articles and popular news articles have contributed to this association. The Guardian
103 had, I believe, a significant impact on the willingness of DR fans to speak with another person writing on the DR phenomenon. The two most enthusiastic DR fans I contacted chose not to participate in a survey or interview. One of the fans runs a blog dedicated completely to the DR subgenre. She regularly blogs about DR books that have recently been published and reviews books on Amazon.com as well as other sites. The other enthusiast ran a website that compiled all the DR novels with detailed inf ormation about each book. This The Guardian article. The tone of the article was caustic and neither the portraya l of the subgenre or these two women by association was flattering. Although these women did not mention their previous interviews in declining to participate in my project, I imagine they would be g preferences. As both women are readers who write and have connections in the online romance community, it is possible other readers took heed from their Guardian experience. The crux to locating my six informants was in finding a key individual or two wh o were open to my project and who then vouched for me in the relatively closed (to outsiders) romance reading communities. I located two of the women I interviewed through romance reading forums. One of these readers operates her own romance reading blog a nd after our initial communication, she put me in contact with others who are also DR fans. Another general romance reader put me in contact with a friend of hers who reads DR. All of the interviews were open ended conversations guided, but not limited, to my research interests and were conducted by phone (the four who lived in
104 the U.S.) and email (the two who lived abroad and preferred email communication). I conducted one to three phone or email exchanges with each participant. Each phone interview lasted on average 30 min with a maximum of 2 hours. Who Are Romance Readers? The Romance Writers of America (RWA) website includes statistical analysis of U.S. romance novel purchasers. 3 While romances do not make their record breaking sales based on only a nich e demographic group, there are a few marked trends among buying readers. Most notably, romances are primarily bought and presumably read by women. Because of the feminized stigma of romance reading, it is difficult to know how many men actually read romanc es. The RWA results state that 91% of romance buyers are women and 9% men. Roughly half of romance novel purchasers are women aged 31 and 54. The mean reading age for print books is 49 years and for e books is 42 years. Romance buyers are more likely to l ive in the southern (38%) or mid western (26%) states than the western (19%) or northeastern (17%) states. These regional percentages held true for all adult fiction, not only romance. Slightly over half of romance buyers are married or live with a partner The greatest percentage of romance book buyers (39%) earn between $50,000 and $99,900. Of the readers surveyed, 44% consider themselves frequent readers, 31% avid readers (always reading a romance), and 25% occasional readers. The romance genre also show s longevity in readership. 44% of the polled readers have been reading romance for at least 20 years. To sum up, 3 RWA commissioned Bowker Market Research to create, implement and analyze surveys on romance readers for 2011 and 2012. Th ese surveys do not necessarily reflect the demographics of all romance readers (some of whom may only borrow books from the library, borrow from friends and family, or reside outside of the U.S.). I have summarized their findings below. For a more complete look at the results, please see the appendix.
105 based on these statistics, the largest share of romance novel buyers are middle age, middle class women working women who are equally likely to be in a committed relationship as not. In describing purchasing habits, buyers purchase 25% of all romances through Amazon.com. The next two greatest sources are other online book sellers at 19% and Wal Mart at 13%. In addition to purchasing paperback boo ks through online sources, readers today are increasingly buying e books. The sale of romance e books have doubled from 2011 to 2012 and are the fastest growing e book genre. One reason for the popularity of e book is the cover of anonymity it provides the book and reader. As romance readers often feel they are being judged for the reading choices and must hide their books, e book readers provide the perfect solution. Romance reader and blogger, Sarah Wendell, remarking on the appeal of her e reader, says r always something that you are comfortable holding in your hand in public ( Bosman 2010 ) The top deciding factors in readers choosing a book is the storyline at 50% (as described on the back cover or on online reviews and blogs) and secon dly the reputation of the author at 19%. Readers describe becoming most aware of new romances through reading an excerpt online or a teaser excerpt in the current book they are reading, through recommendations by friends and family, from a store display, o r an a strong preference for one subgenre over another. Most readers exhibit a willingness to try new subgenres and authors.
106 Who Are Desert Romance Readers? My acces s to demographic information specifically about DR readers varied from next to nothing with the Amazon.com reviewers to detailed information from the interviews. Unfortunately, Amazon.com reviews do not offer any information about the individual reviewer o ther than a screen name and occasionally a location (that location not equate to, a female reviewer. I was not able to contact the reviewers or access further information from readers except to connect to their other book reviews. In the six interviews I conducted with Desert Romance readers, two of the women describe themselves as white Americans, two as African Americans, one as a non white immigrant permanently living in the U.S, and one as a white Englishwoman. Four of the six live in the southern United States and two live outside the U.S. The ages range from mid twenties to mid sixties with the average age in the early forties. All six readers describe themselves as mi ddle class and middle income earners. One has the six are married. While the RWA su rvey is more limited than the information I am able to provide from in depth interviews, the demographics of the readers I interviewed appear to align with the general romance buyers polled by RWA. Observations from Amazon Comments In contrast to the larg ely negative polling data on Americans attitudes toward the Middle East reviewers of DR overwhelmingly feel positive, albeit usually expressed in non specific ways, about the novels. These reviewers are individuals who chose to read these novels and comme nt on Amazon.com, so it is not surprising that someone who
107 would chose to pick up these books will have more tolerant and/or favorable ideas about romance stories set in the Middle East with Arab men. Nonetheless, their interest in these stories, at this p articular post 9/11 historical moment in U.S. relations with Middle Eastern countries it is worthwhile to note. Of the 191 Amazon comments, 74% commented they liked the book they had read, 16% had mixed feelings, and 10% did not like the book they were re viewing. On Amazon it is required to give a book stars ranked from 1 5, with 5 representing the best possible rating. 55% gave 5 stars, 19% 4 stars, 15% 3 stars, 3% 2 stars and 8% 1 star. The reason these results do not exactly match is due to instances wh en a reviewer gave a book 4 or 5 stars, but described it as only ok while others gave a book 3 stars, but described the book as excellent. As both results show, most readers give positive feedback about their enjoyment of the novel(s). Their comments are a t times expressed in ge neral terms of enjoyment : I was gripped from start to finish by this truly enjoyable book. I look forward Yvonne Lindsay ). A truly wonderful read, about honour, protection, and love ( Rebecca Alley ). I was absolutely in love with the character of Prince Khalil Khan of El Bahar. renee I loved the heroine, I loved the desert, I especially loved the clueless hero who has to learn to love! Susan Mallery understands the appeal of the sheik romance and creates a special world where men are men and women are witty and everyone gets to win. Can't wait for the others! ( A Customer ) 4 While the reviewers often use positive words to describe the novel they reviewed, the vast majority of reviewers al so express their opinions in generic terms that are not particular to DR, but correlate with responses to the romance genre as a whole. 4 A Customer is the general name given to a reviewer who has not registered a name on Amazon.com.
108 [ 1984 ] 1991 opinions on the genre. Radway highlight s the ways in which the readers she interviews the Smithton women describe the appeal of the genre in terms of the hero, the heroine, and what makes for an ideal or failed romance. Though nearly thirty years have passed since Reading the Romance many In discussing the appeal of the hero, Radway found it difficult to pinpoint what exactly the Smithton readers liked to see in the hero. She received general answers of intelligence, humor and strength. The women appeared less interested in the particularities of the heroes as individuals than in the roles they should perform. Radway interprets this as a desire less about the heroine finding a unique life partner than e cared for and loved (83). The hero must be a leader among men, capable of protecting the heroine (130). He must be strong and masculine, but gentle and nurturing as well (81). The amazon reviewers often reflect these same desires in the sheikh hero. The combination of strength and vulnerability, appeals to readers: T he hero, Prince Razul was just breathtaking. You can see from the beginning of the story that he is deeply in love with the heroine (Bethany), but very vulnerable due to fear of rejection. (mi mi) We catch the insider's look into the heart of gold that lies hidden behind his all consuming power. ( D. Merrimon Crawford ) Reading about the "dark sheikh" softening and falling for Julia is very sweet and romantic. ( Marilyn Shoemaker) I f only there were more men in the world like rafiq gorgeous sensual and
109 formly consistent and specific. She must exhibit intelligence, a sense of humor (in order to conduct witty verbal sparring with the hero), and in dependence ( 77). These are also qualities required of the hero. The heroine is set apart from other women in th e novels because of her unusual intelligence, fiery disposition, and often s pecial talents or career ( 123).The One thing is for certain --Aliyah is no pushover and in a battle of wills, she can give just as much as she gets! ( D. Merrimon Crawford) Celia is a strong young woman who knows her own worth and is unwilling to settle for less than she deserves. ( Kelley Hartsell "Kel ley" ) The emphasis on the hero and heroine meeting as intellectual equals (although usually never in physical strength or socio economic position) is expressed through the love readers have for the verbal sparring often found between the hero and heroine. The woman whom Olivia Gates brings into his life is someone who is just as stubborn as he when it comes to giving up on a goal, and their scenes are frequently packed with quick witted comebacks to delight the reader time and again. (A. Richard) Radway f ound the mark of an ideal romance is the singularly focus of the developing relationship between the hero and heroine. When too many secondary characters and scenarios are presented that interfere with the romance (such as a love triangle), readers express displeasure (122). A large imbalance of power between the hero and heroine can also disrupt the progression of the love story. DR Amazon reviews most often express displeasure in a novel due to this imbalance. Radway found while it was acceptable, and ev en desirable, for the hero to wear a rough exterior, the heroine must be able to reach his true loving self and help him
110 from this formula and presen ts the hero as too cru el toward the heroine or if his tough and macho, but not overly cruel, hero. Of the c ommenters who gave the novel under review 1 or 2 stars, the majority did so because of the perceived failure of the author to deliver a hero with a compassionate side. Girl (2009) by Sharon Kendrick received overwhelmin gly scathing reviews from readers due to the overbearing hero, Kaliq. I was so disgusted by the misogynistic, arogant, complete jerk of a sheikh Prince Kaliq Al'Farisi. He is overbearing from beginning to end, with no redeeming qualities. ( Nihongoluvr ) I'm seconding the comments that this is probably the worst lead character -physically coercive and verbally abusive -up unt il, what, the next to the last page? Totally offensive storyline. (L.Tutor) So, if you like women who fall in love with irredeemable jerks who call them names, then this book is for you. Since I don't, this became the first book I've ever thrown in the tra sh. (Ali V.) Similarly, if the heroine was not spunky enough to match the strength of the hero, the novel could also fail. I can not stand overbearing men and women who can not stand up for themselves, which she did in the most minimum and insignificant of ways. (Nihongoluvr) T he heroine really irritated me. It was frustrating reading about such a doormat! It distracted from what could have been a good, poignant romance. (RomReader). The pair should be matched in strength as well as interest. A heroine pi ning over a hero who does not show adequate interest is also a turn off. Romreader continues: What I didn't like was the one up, one down re lationship b/w hero & heroine. I felt sorry for the heroine to be stuck with a guy, no matter how
111 attractive or successful, who wasn't sure about her nor did he seem that into her. The Smithton women and the Amazon reviewers both suggest a desire among readers for a semblance of balance and partnership in the relationships portrayed. This balance is more reflective of romances published in the past twenty years. While a commanding hero is desirable, readers today overwhelmingly do not accept a heroine who is unable to meet the challenge the hero presents. Failed romances overwhelmingly stem from a perceived exaggerat ed power imbalance. What we see in the above comments from reviewers is that the expectations readers have of DR match their expectations of romance novels more broadly. Readers enjoyment of a romance depends upon a focus of the developing romance between the hero and heroine and a certain portrayal of the leading characters in which balance and happiness are achieved for both. The Amazon Engages the Middle East While the majority of the Amazon comments represent opinions readers share across all genres of romance, there are times when the comments diverge from the general patterns discussed by Radway. When readers engage with the particulars of DR eastern hero and western heroine. Through particular Amazon reviews we see readers enjoying and desiring the differences presented by the Middle Eastern setting and characters while at the same time expressing mixed feelings about the actual Middle East and Arabs. Readers celebra appreciate the cultural traditions of the East while also acknowledging her role as an exporter of western neoliberalism.
112 fant they are interested in exploring. Reviewers often describe an appreciation for the detail authors bring to their settings: Her attention to detail and rich portrayal of the sce nery our characters are experience is something which pervades all of her novels. 'The Desert Bride' is no exception. Graham's description of the palace both inside and the gardens, is especially beautiful, as are the desert scenes. ( H. Anderson ) I certain ly found her colorful descriptions of the desert locale to be fascinating, and I want to revisit this enchanting setting. (A. Richard ) Until I read this book, I never imagined picnicking in a desert could be so desirable (Margie ) These comments reflect an appreciation for the exotic landscape as well as the focus on the fantasy presented in the novels. However, reviewers also share an interest in the descriptions and pos sible content knowledge gained from the novels. The vivid descriptions allow the reader to experience they describe the importance of experiencing the narrative as a participant: As for the story, it is told with such visual descriptions, letting the read er also experience each enchanting scene. The lavish traditions of the royal wedding are breathtakingly portrayed with such colorful facts, making all the circumstances surrounding this event seem convincing. THE DESERT KING will pull the reader into every mesmerizing instant of this e ). This book took me away to the desert, with it's beauty Woolf ). Annie West writes so beautifully, with rich descriptions of events, people, places & things -to the point where one can easily imagine themselves transported to this beautiful place ( Dream Emporium Dot Com "ZenCyn" ). A journey into an exotic imaginary kingdom that combines her editary and merit as entitlement to the throne. Be prepared to be swept into a world all
113 its own. combining traditional ancient culture and passions with modern characters and concerns ( D. Merrimon Crawford ). readers (who, to the best of my knowledge, are overwhelmingly heterosexual women) identify with the it is important that the heroine is someone the reader can or wants, to identify with. East and West: Moving beyond Difference t oward Love While all heroes and heroines of romance novels must overcome obstacles in order for love to triumph, the DR nove l faces the additional burden of two individuals who must transcend and appreciate religious, ethnic and cultural differences something the Amazon reviewers celebrate. A longtime desert romance fan with her own desert romance blog 5 and a regular contribu tor to the Amazon reviews, Marilyn Shoemaker Love knows no boundaries and comes when you least e xpect it even with (A customer) Brenda Jackson explores two vastly different cultures with a unique realism of their natives' behaviors. (The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers) Through the characters of the western (usually white American) heroine a nd Arab hero, readers express a desire for moving beyond difference to a place of understanding, appreciation and coexistence. It is through love and empathy that mutual respect and understanding will take place. Readers champion the ability of the hero an d heroine to move beyond ), toward a love that 5 Romancing the Desert Sheikh Books http://romancing the desert --sheikh books.blogspot.com/
114 transcends boundaries of race, religion, and nationality. One reviewer loved that the hero and heroine: H ad no insecurities about themselves and they expressed that confidence with the acceptance of the other's social values and reli customer ) The union of East and West is not without tension and compromise. Both characters must be willing to let go of certain expectations or cultural beliefs in order for the union to take place. Kenna Bowers worlds falling in love and willing to make chances in order to be together. I cried when shows, the s takes can be quite high in preserving the union. In this novel 6 Prince Jamal is offering to give up his position and prestige as the future ruler in order to remain with the woman he loves. While the price for marital union is not always so high, it is us ually expected of the Arab hero to be a supporter of western neoliberal policies in his emerging democracy and to favor a western approach to gender relations. M. Waters "m usiclover13" for each other even though she was probably the last type of woman he would have pursuin g someone who might appear more suitable, the sheikh follows through with his love for Delaney and in the process comes to respect and appreciate her independent and forward manner. In response to an Amazon reviewer critiquing the plausibility of a modern western woman agreeing to an engagement to a traditional Arab sheikh she hardly 6 Delaney and th e Desert Sheik (2002) by Brenda Jackson.
115 knows, Dream Emporium Dot Com "ZenCyn" reminds fellow readers of the necessity of the her o and heroine working together to successfully fight terrorism. In Ransomed Bride (West 2007) Belle, a marine archaeologist, has been kidnapped by terrorists and rescued by Sheik Rafiq. In order to secure her release, Rafiq hands over the prec the only way his people will accept his decision to hand over the jewels is on behalf of a higher calling: true love for his soon to be bride. Belle decides to go along with th e pretend engagement because of her desire to maintain stability in the country while Rafiq goes after the terrorists. Because of this higher duty, it is acceptable for the heroine to acquiesce to the Sheikh: I t is part of the story to understand that this little arab country is a new democracy with the country's people still believing many years of traditions & firm cultural beliefs; so they would have considered it a sign of political weakness for their prince to give in to the terrorists and relinquish t he sacred jewels unless it was to save his beloved, so after experiencing the kind of terror Prince Rafiq's enemy creates first hand, Belle makes a conscious choice to help the people in this nation by going along with their traditional beliefs until the t errorists are caught; otherwise they would continue their bombing raids. Essentially, Belle is helping Rafiq buy time for finding the terrorists. (Zencyn). While reviewers find it admirable for the hero and heroine to individually make sacrifices for their union (such as abdicating the throne or going along with a pretend engagement), according to this reviewer, the characters should not stand in the way of thwarting terrorists. In my sample readings that incorporated terrorist plots, the hero and heroine m ust conquer the terrorists While threats to international stability exist, the union of the hero and heroine cannot be realized. Readers are in consensus about what they want to have included in a DR: exotic and detailed set ting, physical and cultural differences between the hero and heroine, a
11 6 modern alpha hero who blends modernization and tradition, a strong independent heroine, and a happy ending that overcomes any challenges to true love. Readers also share what they do n ot want included in desert romances through their comments on what they perceive as failed romances. The iconic The Sheik ( Hull [ 1919 ] 1977 ) and The Playboy Sheikh and the Virgin Stable Girl ( Kendrick 2009) represent the two failed romances, according to Amazon reviewers, among the novels analyzed. It is through the discussions of unsatisfying romances, usually due to the problematic portrayal of the Older romances at times portra y rough heroes who could be verbally, physically The Sheik certainly falls within this category by including the rape and psychological domination of the heroine by the hero. The hero is presented as a brute who only fully redeems himself at reviewers were shocked with what they saw as orientalist overtones in the novel: The Sheik is both reflects and perpetua tes the absurd clichs of its age the mercy of on to these many comments on male female relations, the novel also contains a smattering of other prejudices the like). (Jazz it Up Baby And the racism! The totally unabashed orientalism! That in itself was fascinating. Such a book could not be written today (thank god. oh, hell, maybe it almost could, now), and so it was interesting fo r the historical perspective. S o bad it's good. (A customer )
117 As the above quote shows, while most readers no te the racist and sexist elements in this novel, that does not necessarily detract from their overall enjoyment of it. Many reviewers still chose to give The Sheik 4 or 5 stars (despite largely negative historical interest in one of the most famous romance novels of all time. People either love it, hate it, or don't get it. Of course it's dated, incredibly racist, and horribly demeaning to women, but it's also one o f the most captivating books I've ever read. The book is so well written that it is hard fascinating is to watch Diana's painful and rather revolting transformation. The Sheik is not realistic or politically correct in any way, but it i s a lot of fun (bibliophile ) What can I say? I'm a committed feminist, and I've adored and occasionally reread this hotly spiced ridiculous tale for many years. It's a banquet of outrageous events and incredibly un PC emotions all somehow mixed up with blossoming oases, racism, lust, adoration, great horses, sophisticated cuisine (in the desert!) and piercing through it here and there (as another poster mentioned) one of the most accurate descriptions o f post traumatic stress disorder I've ever read. ( ) While readers admit to the racist and sexist elements of The Sheik the historical nature of the novel, both when it was written and the setting described, allow otherwise accept the problematic elements of the novel as a reminder of the advancements western society has achieved over the past century in regards to race and gender relations. When similar politically incorrect tropes materialize in contemporary DR, readers are much less forgiving. Girl (2009) we find another domineering sheikh, who demeans the heroine throughout the novel. The overwhelming majority of reviewers left contemptuous comments. One reviewer, ho wever, was quick to defend the novel against those who found the text problematic. In response to a reviewer ( ) who wrote,
118 has lack of respect for females. Fischer responded: T he novel is set in a desert kingdom where the royal family has absolute power and everyone bows to them. He is shown as more open minded about the expected behavior from 'commoners' than usual (though still with encountering lots of modern, politically correct romance heroes (American style) in the Middle Ages or the Middle East, to give just two examples. In a separate scathing review by Jennifer L. Rinehart was a weird submissive slant to the story. The heroine was such a doormat and the Sheik was autocratic, selfish and had the emotional mat urity of a spoiled teenage boy. If you want a half way realistic book set in a desert country (i. e. the Middle East), then you can't expect a realistic romance with modern and western and it doesn't follow the formula that no matter what time or plac e a romance is set in, the hero is a nice modern man who treats women as since his often chauvinistic and egoistic point of view is sometimes used really good book with interesting characters, a good story and a well developed cultural background. While S. Fischer finds an aristocratic Middle Eastern male character who does majority of reviewers do not find this portrayal acceptable. S. Fischer received heated comment for her defense of the novel and of the thirteen reviews this novel the majority gave it one star. Two of the reviewers who gave the novel a rati ng higher than one did Through the above examples of successful and failed DR novels, most readers have demonstrated that any hero, regardless of background, should play the role of the
119 virile ye t sensitive hero. The hero and heroine must achieve balance in their relationship and work together as equals in order to appeal to most readers. Readers also appreciate rich description of the scenery and setting so they can experience this foreign land vicariously through the heroine. When readers are unable to relate to the heroine (as we will see in several of the interviews below), the enjoyment of the novel is disrupted. While the Amazon comments demonstrate readers have an appreciation for stories s et in the Middle East with Arab heroes, the readers rarely allow their comments to stray toward discussions of the Middle East. These reviewers, as with most romance readers, read primarily for the love story and the happy ending, not for political discuss experiences we will turn to conversations with DR readers. Interviews In this section I will present the interviews I conducted with six DR readers. 7 Instead of structuring these intervi ews around topics, I have chosen to give each interviewed reader her own section to express her views. Rather than trying to format readers and more honest to this projec t, to allow their words to speak for themselves and focus on what they believe is important to communicate. By allowing their conversations to naturally flow rather than trying to discipline their responses, I believe ponses are more readily apparent. While every 7 I have given each reader a pseudonym to protect her privacy.
120 in its entirety, I believe I will ha ve done more justice to the readers and to the thesis. I will begin each interview section with a brief background biography the reader provided me. I will save authorial analysis for the end of each interview in addition to a final summation. Interview wi th Serena white American living in the U.S. She is a practicing Christian. She has earned a B.A. degree and works full time and considers herself as a lower to middle income earner. then began checking them out of the library. She also manages her own romance reading blog which she began after graduating from college. She reads more than 10 romances per month and her favorites are DR and historical romances. She primarily likes reading romances for the love stories and happy endings. She periodically keeps up with current events and occasionally discusses news and politics with others. Serena likes the Ar is fun to have a foreign setting in a modern novel. For the same reasons, I would also Sheikh themed roman ces are quite popular on her blog and suggests the appeal of the Arabian setting is ultimately its ability to tell a modern love story with a more traditional backdrop. She finds historical romance novels enjoyable for the similar high in experiencing a di fferent setting. She believes that the settings depicted seem realistic and explains that while she scenarios, she also expects the author to do her homework and not pres ent situations
121 After reading DR, Serena became interested in traveling to the Middle East to a recently returned from visiting Turkey and Israel with her mother and she hopes to return to Turkey as well as continue her Middle East travels to Jordan and Egypt. Her recent travels have reaffirmed her belief that the environments presented in the novels She also believes the Middle East is portrayed primarily in a favorable light in the novels, but expressed ambivalence about this po is a good thing. Someone should not read this and assume it is ok to travel and wear and say whatever you like without being aware of cultural expectations. They are like us in some ways, but have different expecta Serena likes reading about modern alpha males in a non historical setting. times, a take charge kind of guy with honor and integrity. He is westernized, but still has traditional roots and likes the independence of the heroine, which is why he doesn't go for women of his own country who have been taught to be subservient and walk behind lthough, this is probably what a real sheikh Serena comments that real Arab men would be less desirable than the fictional believes Arab men to be less wes ternized than the fictional ones, she said they would
122 be incompatible for most western women. The incompatibility has less to do with his Arab man would expect to have a traditional Muslim woman as his bride. Even if he was more forward thinking, those around him, and his culture in general, would provide too aybe an American Muslim would be dif At this point in the conversation Serena shares her only two personal experiences with people who identify as Muslim. In one case, she mentions a friend of the relationship was fine, but when they moved back to his home country, the woman was expected to convert to Islam and follow the local customs. The woman ended up result was the real interreligious relationships are overly complicated. in Miami and now she lives in New York. Her parents are very open minded. They have a Christmas tree in the winter and you would not know they were not Christian. They do not care if she marries a Muslim or not. At first she said she wanted to marry a Mus lim, but now that is not very important to her. She is more of a dominant, take charge personality so it brought up in a western country is perhaps a different situatio n and romances with westernized women could potentially work out.
123 While Serena points out religion as a point of contention, she states that the Other romances leave this out as well. No one wants to be preached at while enjoying a relaxing novel. It is too controversial to introduce into the story, especially the category romances. Authors work in cultural differences in other ways. The reason for fake countries is t o not get into the politics and not to offend anyone. Readers do not want to so the western heroine fits this. The her oine is an average western girl who could become a princess with wealth and luxuries. A regular girl meeting a British prince does not seem plausible, but meeting an Arab prince of a small country seems more independent and demands respect. She helps bring his country into modernization. She country into gender relations that would be acceptable to western countries. She gets to The King and I The a ppeal is the characters can move beyond the odds and compromise. I like the angst and drama of seeing if they will work things out misgivings, Serena believes the hero and heroine in these novels have so mething of his background which I feel translates to lifetime security in his love. He'll be a father
124 who is active in his home life perhaps learning to or fulfilling a father role he never When Serena and I discuss relations between the Middle East and the U.S. she the people were positive toward the U.S. and people I traveled with were positive about the people and places we visited, but overall Americans seem neutral or negative about the Middle East. Although she did not off er own opinion about U.S. military involvement in the Middle East, Serena recalled hearing friends and family say the U.S. should get out of the region, because there is not much the U.S. can do in could come in and help the Middle East, but it is very complicated. The Middle East has been fighting since early times, fighting over scares resources, such as Israel and Jordan fighting over the Jordan River. Three religions are in conflict a nd many fee l their way is the only way. You need a society in which both men and women are highly educated and encouraged U.S. should give up its attempts to solve problems i n the Middle East. Serena states that although many Americans would like to be present in the Middle East to work with Arabs in solving the regional and global problems she believes this is not practical. She believes the U.S. presence in Iraq has the pot ential of helping Iraq become a more democratic society, but factors beyond the control of the U.S. make change difficult, if not impossible. She admits that despite her interest in the Middle East and her travels there, she knows little about Arabs and ba ses her opinion on news sources which she claims could be biased.
125 For Serena, DR are fantasies that are not meant to be read as reality. Despite her strong misgivings about the feasibility of interfaith relationships, she enjoys indulging the fantasy of ha ving a romantic relationship with a wealthy Arab man through her DR reading. In her opinions about the non fictional Middle East, Serena, in many ways, accepts stereotypes of the Middle East without question. Patriarchal men, subservient women, and a Middl e East in need of western democratic influence all appear to be a part of her worldview. However, her admittedly limited and incomplete knowledge about the Middle East and her willingness to encounter and engage with the Other leave her open to new encount ers and possibilities of thinking about the Middle East. While I would not argue that knowledge or experience (through books and international travel) necessarily create a more open and broad mind that will result in Middle East, even in a limited sense, shows the potential for tolerance and appreciation of difference. Serena claims her growing interest in the Middle East is a result of her DR reading. Interview with Pam ela Jamaican of Indian descent and a permanent resident of the United States. She is non religious. She has earned a B.A. and a M.A. degree and works full time and considers he rself a middle income earner. She reads 1 2 romances per month. Her favorites are contemporary category romances with international locations. She likes romances for their happy love stories and the opportunity to escape to a different world. She keeps up with global current events and occasionally discusses news and politics with others.
126 Pamela enjoys DR because of their ability to transport her to a unique setting that she has not personally experienced. It is not the particulars of the desert or the pal aces, visit a foreign land since I can a desire for accurate learn about the actual the descriptions are enjoyable sites for learning. Learning takes place not only in the novels themselves, but they have inspired Pamela to read about the Middle East more broadly. She rewards intriguing fiction by turning to other fiction set in similar locales as well as non fiction and film. Pamela expresses the novels in terms of a modern Cinderella story and claims she cannot identify wit modern career focused women who star in DR. She relates to their life circumstances and ambition. However, she would like to see more diversity in the heroines. weird that all the heroines are white and mostly American. It's like saying the average white American female could only be with a foreign man if he is super rich and/or royalty. I don't like The appeal of the Arab hero for Pamela is his traditional manners and alpha presence, but also his than most heroes because he ha s the exotic traditional side, but also western, so he is more appealing for a western audience. Exotic, but not too foreign. I like that they show
127 that even though the hero is from a harsh land that doesn't mean he is not educated or cultured or modern. H Patrice does not find the storyline or union realistic, but this does not detract from norm for the average female (even if a white American) would end up in the same type of circle as a Middle Eastern royal. I think a rich foreign sheikh would want to be with another rich or famous person. But I see this as a fantasy for the average female reader of the books which I guess is ok. We want to live vicariously and maintain that these fantasies can happen. It's just like Cinderella after all. Marry the prince and become a pri ncess. yada yada. This is just the same fantasy for the adult woman that we had as little girls In addition to the fantasy of becoming a princess, Pamela comments that one of her favorite trends in DR are the close familial and community ties the Arab hero and a s Pamela relat es the novels to actual current events only if the novels themselves there are no mention of political events I'm ok with that too if the cultural, geographical inf manner in which Arabs and the Middle East is portrayed in the news presents a very
128 violence, an po rtrayed Middle Eastern culture For Pamela, DR are a means to escape her own knowable experiences and fantasize about places and romantic interludes elsewhere in the world where the heroine has few material worries. While she recognizes the novels as fantasy, she also hopes to gain information about a foreign locale through her reading and uses fiction as a springboard to learn more about other cultures through non fiction sources. Pamela sees the Middle East represented harshly in the U.S. and finds that DR are a nice at least DR provide an alternative view of the Middle East. Rather than equating Arab men with terrorism and misogyny and the Middle East as a place of violence, the novels portray the hero as an honorable man the heroine loves and the landscape as an exci ting and beautiful locale where their love can develop. Interview with Brenda describes herself as an African American woman living in the U.S. She is a practicing Christian. She ha s earned a B.A. degree and works full time and considers herself a middle income earner. She keeps up with current events and regularly discusses the news with others. Brenda has been reading romances for about 25 years. She was introduced to romances fro m her mother and began reading as a young adult. She has continued the tradition by introducing her daughter to romances. In addition to the three generations of women who read romance in their family, Brenda said she has also seen her brother in
129 recent y ears 3 romances per month. She prefers contemporary category romances with characters of various ethnicities set in either international settings or the U.S. Despite her preferences, she admits she will read whatever is conveniently available from her mother or a friend. In estimates she has read over 30 in her lifetime. While she is well read in Desert Romances, Brend a tends to describe DR within the broader context of international romances with foreign men, rather than a unique category by itself. Brenda says she likes reading romances set in foreign locations because it is an opportunity for learning while also enjo ying the love story. While she recognizes situations, characters and places in the novels are often fictional, romance novels can Muslim woman would wear a burqa, but b y reading a novel about the cultural customs, it puts things into perspective and allows me to appreciate other perspectives and ways gives her a peak into other life The descriptions of the palace, the servants, the mannerisms, the language is authors to research the backdr op for their novels. While many parts are fictionalized, When Brenda reads about locations she is drawn to she will read more novels with similar locations or themes or look up information about the region online. She also
130 likes to speak with people from that region or who have travelled in that region to get their perspectives on the places she is reading about. Brenda has mixed feelings about the typical hero and heroine of DR. She descri unfolding of the novel the heroine of course softens the hero and exposes his softer side Nonetheless, Brenda would like to see a sheikh hero who is not always the typical Brenda appreciates that DR present a minority hero who is not the traditional white romance novel hero. The Sheikh is always described as having brown skin a nd dark hair. While Brenda appreciates the minority status (from an American perspective) always have to be a blond haired blue eyed white do rom a minority background? This is not only with the sheikh themed. Most of the heroines are white in all romances. You have to go to specific lines and specific authors to find hnicity of reason to have the heroine white. People of all colors and backgrounds today can travel to the Middle East or find themselves in any career or situation. Despite her misgivings about the hero and heroine of DR, once she gets past her initial annoyance, she still enjoys r eading about the developing romance. She likes that
131 they bring a new level of understanding and appreciation for each other and each believed the relationships depicted in DR s eemed realistic she replied that while westernized man. An American woman would not be very comfortable living over there When I brought up th e political aspects of the novels, she said that while she has boy who meet for a variety of random reasons. I do not think about politics and current events while r eading romances. I read them for the pleasure of a happy love story, not When we began to ta lk about representation of the Middle East, Brenda said she propaganda in the U.S. about the Middle East and in the Middle East about the U.S. s the novels are more favorable to the region even though and the Arab characters. They show day to day routines and everyday occurrences of people in the Middle Eas t instead of very isolated worse case situations the news When I asked her about the relationship she thought the U.S. should have with the Middle East Brenda said the U.S. should not be heavily involved in the Middle East or any other countries
132 worrying about other places. Yes, there should be some responsibilities and honoring NATO and certain treaties, but we need to focus on problems and corruption in the Like many romance rea ders, Brenda reads DR novels primarily to escape into a pleasant fantasy in an intriguing locale, not to think about world events. However, she does enjoy gaining general cultural knowledge that she believes DR provide and the opportunities for expanding h er understanding of foreign customs. She also enjoys following up on the information presented in the novels though non fiction sources. Although she is critical of the leading characters, she appreciates the racial presentation of the hero. In these novel s, unlike most romances, a non white man serves as the desirable hero. Brenda reifies certain stereotypes of the Middle East in her responses, particularly when discussing the desirability of the fictional Arab hero compared to real Arab men. However, Bren da sees DR novels as a positive step in representing the Middle East. Unlike most media and cultural portrayals, Brenda sees DR as a positive presentation of Middle Eastern cultures. Interview with Kristen ibes herself as a white Englishwoman living in England. She does not affiliate herself with any religion. She has earned a B.A. degree and works full time and considers herself a middle income earner. She regularly reads and discusses current events in the news. She believes the Israeli/Palestinian conflict to be one of the most pressing issues in world politics. Kristen reads 5 7 romances per month. She began reading romances in the past five years. Her interest in the novels first came from a desire to w rite a romance of her own. After reading a few romances for research, she became a fan. Her favorite
133 subgenres are Desert Romances and mystery romances. She enjoys romances mostly for the evolving love story between the hero and heroine. Kristen describes the appeal of the Middle Eastern settings in comparison to her appeal of the unknow n and the exotic by evoking Orientalism Arabian setting as fantastical a setting as anything in a sci fi novel. I have travelled widely in Europe so Mediterranean destinations are mostly places I know well, but I have never been to the middle east and I suppose there is an element of mystery surrounding somewhere one has never been. This element of mystery absolutely buys I asked Kristen if she believed the novels were Orientalist. She p oints to the sheikh romance projects a romanticized image of the Middle East. However, that image ism he argues that the image is negative, thus infusing the West wit h a sense of superiority toward the is argues that whether the Depictions of Arab terrorists vs. Arab heroes is an important distinction. When I asked what she believed was the role of the author conductin g research
134 another language, they should have some knowledge it, too many do not. However, a sheikh romance is primarily a fantasy and anyone with any knowledge of world events lly interested in the politics of the Middle East she does seek that knowledge from her e tall dark men despite being married to a tall blonde one. I also like dominant men as fantasy the romance between the couple, Kristen believes too many of the heroines are Part of her critique of the heroi ne stems from the fact that the majority of heroines are American 8 mysterious as any sheikh hero. Everything about the American heroines are foreign and mysterious to me, in the same w ay that everything about America is foreign and mysterious. I find American politics and culture fascinating but as strange and as unfathomable as anything from the Middle East. For example the problems America has with the concept of a National Health S ervice. I cannot imagine living in a first world 8 I have found that DR authors tend to write heroines who are from their same cultural and ethnic background. White British authors tend to write white British heroines. White American authors tend to write white American heroines. The one DR featuring an African American heroine is written by an African American author. White American is the most prolific category of authors and heroines for DR.
135 country where people cannot afford cancer treatment. To me this is as strange as Kristen appreciates how the cultural differences between the hero and heroine bri g new to persuade me that the hero and heroine have brought a new level of understanding to each other. Sometimes it is possible to see that the hero and heroine have open ed I asked Kristen if she believed the romance between the lead couple seemed outrageous than othe rs, and I have been known to throw a book across the room if I find those things, Kristen responded to my query about the more political aspects included in some of the DR novels they are. I consider myself reasonably well informed on the politics of the Middle East and the world, and find it rather patronizing that anyone would think that women who read romanc
136 When we discussed the representation and perception of the Middle East, positive view of the ME dependin g on what is happening there. The British people will always support the underdog. If at any time it appears an ethnic group, within the ME, are being badly treated you will find both the British media and the British people supporting that group. I h ave no idea as to the opinion of the U.S. public about the ME, absolutely corr osive in any dialogue western governments wish to have with any other Arab state. The Palestinian people need to have their own state, but no one in the west When I brought the dialogue back to the DR novels and what they o ffer, if anything at all, in terms of a different way of interacting or thinking about the Middle should have with the ME, the world is what it is, mercurial and merc enary and that will never change. I cannot emphasize enough that these novels are fantasy novels, as Kristen clearly and consistently argues against a reading of DR as anything other than enjoy able fiction. Despite elements of orientalism that she admits are tied into the appeal of the novels Kristen is insistent that women should be free to enjoy their romantic fiction for what it is, romantic fiction, without being labeled as less intelligen t, less knowledgeable, or less enlightened than other individuals who do not read romances. She draws an distinction in the DR between negative and positive
137 representations. While Said and Todorov might not agree, I think Kristen is right to point out the distinction. With low public opinion of the Middle East and its people (at least in the U.S.), stories that portray Arab men as the heroes, rather than terrorists, and Arab locations as alluring, rather than dangerous can potentially be part of the solutio n for more compassionate interactions Interview with Cheryl American woman living in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.). She has earned a B.A. degree and works full time as well as pursuing a romance writing career. She considers herself to be a middle income earner. She describes herself as a non practicing Christian. She reads the news daily and regularly discusses current events with others. Cheryl reads about two romances per month. She enjoys reading a variety of romances, particularly historicals. She enjoys romances primarily for their happy endings and the opportunity to learn about different places and time periods. She is currently pursuing writing her own Desert Romance They can lead a group of people across a burning desert and keep order until the next h eroes of any romance sub had to write a hero type she did not particularly like. However, I believe her choi ce reflects the widespread popularity of the alpha male in all romance subgenres. the heroines in the novels I've read have b een such unrealistic dipsticks. They wander
138 off into the desert which is a great way to die. They go off with strange men, which is a great way to get yourself raped and then probably dumped into the desert to die. They s just going to get you ostracized and possibly escorted from the premises, not lauded for ond what any intelligent person would do. Running into the desert without water? At the airport there are signs warning you about appropriate behavior. I was given a leaflet on the plane. And then there was one in my hotel room. Given, I originally arrived during Ramadan, but when in Rome you pay attention to how the Romans behave. Some mistakes do happen though. I only found out cap sleeves were too short by wearing them in public. I also ate in public during my first Ramadan here, but in my defense, someo However, Cheryl believes cultural misunderstandings do occur and can be she goes to Marina Mall in a sleeve less blouse and ends up being escorted from the In describing what she wants the hero and heroine to bring to the relationship my book, they brought an awareness of how another culture works. He is
139 like rock star s here, and like rock stars they have a whole entourage that depends on drawn to the Arabian setting because it's different. When I was little and going to horse shows, my sister rode Western, but I was drawn to the Arabians because of the exotic costumes. Later on, taking belly dancing lessons, we used to refer to ourselves as e comfort of being desire to be coddled. Women in these cultures are really sheltered and protected, unfortunately that also means being not allowed to do things, but som etimes being on a Cheryl believes it is very important for an author to research the setting of the novel. She does not believe most of the authors deliver an authentic experience of Middle Eastern cultures and wishes more authors would choose actual Middle Eastern culture all day long, I don't want to see modest, Muslim women roaming around in public with their hair uncovered any more than I want to read about King Henry I eating his dinner with a fork. Now, I will accept an abundance of young, virile sheikhs, but that's about as far as I'll go. (Real sheikhs tend to be on the elderly side these days.). Some fantasy is okay, but if I these novels represent, of are capable of representing the Middle East. She responded, Depending on w
140 When we discussed the instances when DR describe current events such as s burning Korans in the US we were all waiting for it to come up in conversation with the locals, riting escapist In discussing why she chose to write a Desert Romance novel rather than what was available and because I'm in it [the Middle East] so research In her own novel, she has chosen the U.A.E. as the setting and will use the actual street realistic with my plots. My settings are real settings, other than m aybe moving a building. We set a party at the Emirates Palace Hotel and I did my best to make sure it was realistic to the actual hotel and we didn't have a mixed sex party. Men were in one room and woman were in another, just like a real party here would be. That's what I don't like about the current sheikh novels I've read. They're fantasies that have no basis in reality and if I'm going to read something I have to be able to suspend disbelief and just reading a description where the heroine takes off int o the desert, off road, with no supplies and no plans, doesn't make me think romance, it makes me think 127 Hours or that kid who wandered into Alaska and died because he didn't have a plan. I don't like to set off for Dubai without a full tank of gas and that's an hour and a half drive on a busy
141 She shared that living in the Middle East has helped with her writing and her access to local culture than most because I work so closely with locals. My co teacher last year (Afra) called me her sister. I go to the baby showers and the weddings and even sat mourning this year. The fact that I wor view of what it must h ave been like to be in a harem. I have been having the most interesting conversations with my co teacher (Klaithem) because I am on the outside and she can talk to me as an outsider about thin When I asked her about American perceptions of the Middle East Cheryl responded that most Americans, despite strong opinions about Arabs and Islam, are e an accurate vision of the Middle East to begin with so no matter what their opinions are, they aren't coming from an educated place. The ones I've talked to tended t o have a negative impression. her where she thought this ignorance/misi just discussing with a friend the fear of the unknown as a survival instinct. Middle Easterners look different. The Emiratis tend to be kind of soft and round, but the Iraqis, Iranians, Syrians and Jordanians run a little more, I guess, severe in their features. There was a guy who worked at the Iranian restaurant in the mall and I was scared to face. Stereotypes are reinforced b
142 speaks Arabic. Americans d bothering to explain. Arabic also sounds very harsh to English speakers. Phonetically could be wrong. ) We had a National Day pageant at school Thursday and as the kids were singing it struck me how terrifying that would sound to the unfamiliar. The kids are Finally, I asked Cheryl what kind of relationship she thought the U.S. should have have to listen to one another and not jump to conclusions because someone has dark skin or slanty eyes. I think pop culture, including romance novels, will give people a good inside look at the other side. Once they see the sameness in the difference that surv representations in the DR she has read has spurred Cheryl to work on her own novel. She sees the potential in creating a great DR, but is quite critical of th e ones she has read thus far. In contrast to Kristen who sees DR novels as purely fictional fantasies that should not be related to real world events, Cheryl believes romances set in the Middle East while escapist fiction, are sites for learning about othe r cultures as well as opportunities for more open engagement with Others. She points to the ability of popular culture to promote more open and sympathetic engagements with foreign e reotypes rather than reinforcing them.
143 Interview with Dorrine grandchildren. Although she describes herself as an African American woman living in the United States, she feels raci al classification is not very meaningful. She shared with me that one of her grandparents was white and another was a Native American of the be middle class. She is a practicing Christian. She keeps up with current events and sometimes discusses the news with others. as Currently she reads 10 or more romances per month. She enjoys all styles of contemporary category romances and mystery novels. She prefers contemporary stories because, depends on her mo Dorrine subscribes to a mail order program in which she receives four murder mystery novels and ten romance novels per month. She supplements he r mail orders with additional reading from book stores such as Barnes & Noble or Wal Mart. I asked her if she also used the library. She responded that with a reading appetite as voracious as hers, the library selections are too limited.
144 She has passed on grandkids tell me I am the reason they love reading. It is because I take them with me to the bookstore. When I go to pick out my books I let them pick out one for themselves. They get Harry Potter Dorrine said she has read a number of DR as they are sometimes included in her monthly mailings. When we discussed the appeal of the setting she said she likes most recognizes the novels are fiction and the locations and individuals are not real, she feels of view. She is not from a wealthy Dorrine believes it is important for authors to conduct research before writing a think readers hope to learn a little about the culture when reading a book. I look at the foreign locations as allowing me to specific event mentioned, she will look up online to fact check on Wikipedia or a similar site (usually she finds this is accurate) and also just to get a better sense of the real when specific cultur al customs or locations are mentioned, the authors are usually correct in their descriptions. While she acknowledges that some of the novels she has read discuss current desc ribing the appeal of the leading characters, Dorrine stated that she liked that he
145 was from a different ethnic background other than white or African c haracter until later in the story. He is too arrogant and sure of himself in the beginning. He seems to pursue the heroine initially because she is not encouraging his advances, playing hard to get he thinks. Really she is just from a different background. She is there as a teacher or nanny and does not think of a relationship between the two of them as le background and the independent streak of the heroine, she believes authors create the more subtle. Even if you, as a woman, are sitting in the back seat of the car a nd the I asked her if she believed the more assertive heroines reflect the tastes of younger roine. And, some writers say their characters take on a life of their own. So maybe some situations the darker man and different locations, it seems it would be better to have some darker women, perhaps Hispanic or African. purposefully seeks out some African American writer s, she still feels she can relate to a
146 why I would want to read a romance novel like that [with a white heroine or depicting interracial marriage], and I say, why not? We are all a melting pot and should all be able to read about each other. I do think it is better for an African American writers to write about African American heroines and Native American writers about Native American When we talked about what the hero and heroine bring to the relationship titles, money and just love and accept each other for who t hey are. He is wealthy and used to people wanting him for just his money, but she loves him for himself. She would Dorrine enjoys both the fantasy elements of the novels as well as the abil ity to learn about experiences beyond her own. She uses the circumstances in the novels as a catalyst for researching more about locations she enjoys. As with Brenda, she sees the hero as an appealing alternative to white heroes. Focusing primarily on clas s and race in the novels, she appreciates the ability of DR to strip away the characters material circumstances; the hero and heroine learn to appreciate one another as another individual worthy of love. Interview Analysis As the above interviews convey, the readers show diversity in their opinions of the novels, their reasons for reading, how they think about the novels, and how they think about geo politics. Just as the Orient and Occident are not monolithic places with a stable, knowable reality, neithe r are audiences a monolithic knowable subject. The interviewed readers express their interest for reading DR in various ways. Kristen finds the warm desert climate setting appealing while Dorrine enjoys the description of the
147 rena and Pamela both describe the appeal of DR in its ability to combine old fashioned traditions (primarily expressed through the hero) in modern times. The notion of a timeless quality to the Middle East that Pamela and Serena enjoy does play into orien talist notions of a static Middle East. Cheryl is quite critical of the DR she has read, but sees the appeal and the potential for novels set in the Middle East featuring a sheikh hero. While varied, the comments for the appeal of DR novels center on the s etting and the hero. Not surprisingly, these are the features that make DR stand out from other romance novels. Through the setting and the hero, the readers express a desire for enticing difference tempered by enough familiarity to remain desirable. In d iscussing the appeal of the sheikh hero in more detail, several of the readers commented upon his race and color. Interestingly, the racial descriptions of both the hero and the hero ine were commented upon primarily by the three non white readers I intervi in a way that, once again, marks him as different yet familiar. The whiteness of the heroine was not mentioned by Serena, Kristen, and Cheryl. However, the readers who did not identify as white analyzed in more detail the ways in which race plays out in many of the novels. In the sheikh hero, Brenda and Dorrine found an appealing alternative to t he typical white hero. While the hero in some ways may reify stereotypes of Arab men, Brenda and Dorrine note how the brown skinned sheikh hero expands the notion of male desirability to include dark toned men. In this instance, analysis of the sheikh her o in the novel, without speaking with readers,
148 would not impart the full meani ng of what he signifies. O nly through engaging with readers can we see the hero as not just reifying stereotypes, but also breaking them down for some readers. A brown man playin g the desirable romantic lead (a rarity in romance novels not catering specifically to African Americans) is enough for woman of color to find in him a transgressive figure. Having a non white hero is refreshing and breaks boundaries by including minority characters; however, Pamela, Brenda and Dorrine do not have similar feelings for the leading lady. All three women were perturbed by the automatic whiteness of the heroine and what her racial makeup occ urring whiteness as a silent statement that while white women could find themselves traveling the world and falling in love with foreign princes, women of color could not. The interviewed readers discussed to what extent they viewed DR as fantasy fiction or sites for learning about the Middle East. Most of the responses suggest a mixture of both. Serena, Pamela, Brenda and Dorrine believe the novels are ultimately fantasy fiction and the authors should have the freedom to create fictional situations, but a language, and cultural customs. Cheryl, while writing her own DR from the U.A.E., is adamant that authors should always create realistic settings and situations in fictional novels. For Cheryl, ficti on should not include writing situations that could not conceivably take place in the partic ular country the story is set Kristen, on the other hand, is equally adamant that romance novels are fantasy fiction having little to do with the real world. For her, these novels should not have to conform to real life situations any more than a science fiction novel. Furthermore, she argues no one should assume
149 a romance reader believes she is reading anything other than escapist fiction. While Kristen clearly articulates her position, not all readers agree with her strict separation of fantasy and reality. Even through this sample of six readers, diversity among their expectations of the novels and how they relate and integrate the novels into their worldview is present. Most of the interviewed readers (with the exception of Kristen) stated DR novels are not only spaces for amusement, but for learning as well. This learning is not confined to the pages of the book, but spills over into o ther aspects of life. Pamela uses her interest in the fictional setting of a novel to continue taking in other fictional and non fictional experiences that are derived from the DR. Dorrine enjoys looking up online places and events she has read about in DR Brenda also likes to learn more through online searches and by speaking with people she has met from the region described in year with plans of returning. I am not su ggesting that interest or knowledge automatically promotes tolerance or respect. As Todorov has pointed out, these tools ders I interviewed (even though she willingness to engage with the Arab Other, meet the Arab Other, fantasize about the Arab Other (all of which she claims stems from her DR reading), possibly puts her in a more open and receptive position than conservative westerners whose engagement with Arab Others does not extend even that far.
150 The interviewed readers discuss what both the hero and heroine are able to bring to one ano ther. Brenda, Kristen, and Cheryl said they believe the novels should, and sometimes do offer a level of new cultural appreciation and understanding between the hero and heroine. Dorrine suggests the hero and heroine show the possibility for love to act as the great class equalizer. Despite extreme differences in material circumstances, it is possible for love to conquer all. hts. The leading lady is aided in part by the hero who is already considered modern for an Arab sheikh. The appeal of the exotic hero must be tempered with familiarity in order for the reader to understand and accept him as a recognizable and worthy subjec t. Change is not purely one sided; the heroine must also be willing to grow. She will come to love the Middle Eastern landscape and cultural customs, which she will call warm a love she never experienced in her western home. Because many of the desert romance settings take place in the royal palace, cross generational extended family (cousins, gran dparents, siblings, etc.) live together under the same roof. This provides the heroine with the opportunity to experience the love, warmth and loyalty of family and friends she does not experience within her own cul ture. The cold individualistic W est in it s pursuit of modernization has lost touch with the more important things in life: relationships with family and friends and a sense of community. The hero learns modernization from the West and the heroine traditional family values from the East.
151 When we East presented in the novels, the reactions were more varied and overall less open than their view of the fictional Middle East. In particular, Serena finds the Middle East and Arab men less appealing than the novels present. Brenda also believes in reality it would be difficult for a western woman to mar ry an Arab man. However, Pamela and Brenda, like that the novels show the Middle East in a favorable light. They believe this is in sta rk contrast to the negative images of the Middle East the media focuses upon. All of the interviewed American women believe Americans should be better informed with a more balanced view of the Middle East and the challenges it faces in its relationships wi th the U.S. Kristen, the only non American interviewed, sticks to her original point that the international politics and these novels have nothing to do with one another. She also believes that British public opinio n is much more favorable toward the Middl e East and suggests issues that arise are more of a U.S. /Mid East problem rather than a West/Mid East one. Conclusion In this chapter I have brought in the readers of DR novels to hear in their words how they interpret the novels and practice everyday pol itics through their reading choices, conversations, and actions. Through the Amazon reviews readers express appreciation for the representations of the hero, heroine and setting in terms similar to readers seek a sense of equality and balance between the hero and heroine of the novel. Readers gave poor ratings primarily because the novel failed to deliver an equal partnership. Reviewers today are clear in their denouncement of hyper alpha heroes in t he vein of Ahmed from The Sheik In conversation with Middle East content, the reviewers celebrate the
152 settings and the cultural, racial, and class differences between the hero and the heroine; reviewers appreciate the hero and heroine overcoming any objec tions to their unlikely union in the name of love. Through the six interviews, the readers demonstrate a varied rather than a monolithic reading of the novels. Each of these women express different views in regard to the characters, the settings, the resea rch role of the author, politics, and intersections of gender, class and race. The interviewed readers also reveal how new and unimagined readings can take place. I doubt the DR scholars critiquing the Arab hero conceived of readers finding in the sheikh h ero a progressive character breaking down racial boundaries through his desirable non white status. While in an orientalist reading of the text he is labeled as an dangerous stereotype, in the interaction of reader and text, several of the interviewed wome n found the wealthy brown hero a welcomed change from the typical white hero of most romance novels. Also, while the critics of DR consistently point to the heroine providing the hero with modernity, they do not acknowledge how readings can show what the h ero brings to the heroine. The interviewed readers point to the importance of family, loyalty and honor in the hero and his homeland which they read as the opportunity for West to learn from East. The relationship between East and West, through the charact ers of the hero and heroine, in these novels is perceived as one of give and take. Through the readings of the DR, conversations, and actions readers take because of the novels (meeting foreigners, traveling, reading other works about the Middle East, etc. ) these DR readers are practicing a Vernacular IR. Through their choices of what to read and how they think, talk and act upon the readings, these
153 women are articulating a position about international politics. While acknowledging the variation in response ls, as a means of moving toward readers are in some way s harnessing their inter est in DR novels to work toward greater equality in interactions between the western self and Middle Eastern other. They point to the distinctions between the positive portrayals of the Middle East in the novels compared to the over all negative representations of the Middle East in other mediums nuanced to an academic scholar of orientalism, for people encountering everyday experiences of the Middle Eastern Other, these readers are making a political choice to While theoretical questions of representations in academia may focus on whether or not individuals should represent Others, I think it is importan t to recognize that people are engaging with representations. Rather than writing off their experiences as orientalist, we can look instead at their experiences and their ensuing choices. The readers interactions do not stop with the novels; the DR serve a s a facilitator for readers to explore other avenues of encounters with the Middle East whether through travel, other novels, non fictional research, or talking with people from the Middle East. Through their readings and further explorations, these audien ces have the opportunity to create new ways of imaging and cultivating different relationships between the U.S. and the Middle East.
154 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSION: EXPRESSIONS OF A VERNACULAR I NTERNATIONAL R ELATIONS e us an insight participation in imperialist discourses such as Orientalism, perhaps even the back of our hand without ever having set foot on a sand dune or oasis; the fantasy of escape; the fantasy of perfect heterosexual love; the As the above quotes suggest, D esert R omance (DR ) scholarship has focused almost exclusively on the content of DR while implying that through the readings of the we cannot assume that texts work in certain ways in female DR readers, matter. In this thesis I have analyzed the relationship between orientalism and Audience Response Studies (ARS) throu gh DR novels and their is an important component for the analysis of representations. This approach gives scholars a more thorough understanding of how representations work. By locating the various ways audiences interpret and act upon a text, we learn about the important meaning making between text and audience. My approach also recognizes the agency of individuals and the political site of DR novels and their readers. Current theories about DR novels and their readers are overly simplistic and do not recognize how individuals can speak back to and interpret texts in creative ways. Finally, my approach to orientalism may offer suggestions for the practice, rather than t he theory, of moving beyond orientalism.
155 In Chapter 2 I examined the literature on orientalism and ARS paying particular inition by acknowl edging the feminine gaze toward the masculine East while ignoring the role of the audience. Feminist scholars in products. In particular, I drew from Jan inform my position that DR readers opinions are both worthwhile and an important form of cultural politics. In Chapter 3 I reviewed hundreds of DR novels for basic information as well as reading thirty novels in detail. Through my thorough analy sis of the novels I found that 1 ) some instances of claimed orientalism were in fact indicativ e of the broader romance genre 2 ) some instances of claimed orientalism were part of the older pre 9/11 representations, but n ot characterist ic of the post 9/11 novels and 3 ) the representations in the novels were not monolithic, but showed variation in the presentation of the material and in cultu ral sensitivity toward the Middle East. While some novels and some passages within My careful attention to reading a large sample of novels, selecting novels across time novels, in DR n ovels relationship to the larger romance genre, and changes in representations over time that the articles by Bach, Taylor, and Jarmakani did not recognize or acknowledge. My analysis of the novels show that in the post 9/11 DR, the novels increasingly pre respectful to representations of difference.
156 In Chapte r 4 I interacted with readers of DR novels, both through Amazon.com reviews and through open ended interviewing. My interactions with readers a lso showed first, a diversity of responses in how readers thought about these novels and the Middle East. While some comments affirmed orientalism, others directly challenged an orientalist reading. After hearing the words of DR readers and the ways they a t times complicated an orientalist reading, I do not believe scholars can make assumptions monolithic category, the novels and their readers are not a stable monolithic categ ory. Without including, or in the least acknowledging the complexity of audience interpretations, the scholarship on orientalism suffers. interpretations of the novels not only count ered assumptions about the content, but clearly articulate why audience response is imperative to studies of orientalism. In one instance several readers saw in the racially marked hero, not an orientalist stereotype, but a character who is breaking down r acial boundaries. For readers who are accustomed to finding white male leads in romance novels, the presence of a non white male assuming the role of the desirable hero is both refreshing and progressive for some readers. In another instance, several reade rs described an alternative view of the exchange between the hero and heroine. DR scholarship presents the heroine as the exporter of neo liberalism and western modernity to the hero and his country. The exchange is presented as one sided. In the readings, however, several of the interviewed women described instead an exchange between equals. While the heroine often assists the hero in pursuing western notions of liberalism, the hero offers to the
157 heroine notions of honor, loyalty and family warmth the read ers believe are lacking in the West. Rather than domination of the West over the East, the readers found an exchange among equals. Finally, t hrough their interactions with DR novels and their awareness of the troubling history of representations and public opinion of the Middle East in the United States ( U.S. ) several of the DR readers describe the novels as a positive alternative for U.S. engagement with the Middle East. By engaging in these more positive representations and using the representations to f acilitate conversations and other ways of knowing, these women are expressing their Vernacular IR. While couching representation, I believe it is time to move the conversation out o f the ivory tower and examine the ways everyday people engage with representations of the Middle East and articulate their version of a Vernacular International Relations ( IR ) I am not advocating on behalf of DR novels as the means to move forward with he althier representations of the Middle East in the U.S. While the descriptions in the novels are generally more positive than other representations of the Middle East, the reate disturbing depictions. What I am suggesting is to take these readers at face value. They compassionate interactions (while acknowledging constraints as well) that they may not have experienced otherwise. Examining these connections and the ways people can move forward with healthier interactions with the Middle East in spite of orientalism is important as this provides the possibility for change. The reality is, tr ansformation will
158 not come through elusive notions of humanism and alienation available to the few, but through people harnessing their interactions with texts (such as DR) and their everyday knowledges and experie nces toward empathy, compassion and equali ty. One reason scholars may hesitate to engage with audiences is simply because people are not an easy methodologically choice. Finding the audiences can be difficult enough, but once a scholar contacts them, getting individuals to open up to an academic r esearcher can be challenging. I would have ideally liked to conduct more than six interviews, but found resistance among DR readers to participate. Books and films are more easily managed data than people. In addition, cross comparison of orientalist produ cts becomes much more challenging when people are involved. The Despite the complications of ARS, I believe the benefit audience s bring to the discussion on orientalism is worth the inconveniences. In the future, I would like to increase the number of interviews and interactions I had with DR readers. With enough time I believe I could accomplish this goal by continuing online sear ches for readers and by attending romance conferences and book clubs. I would also like to expand my interaction with audiences of orientalist products by engaging with other mediums such as film and television. With multiple sites of orientalism and multi ple interactions with audiences, I believe I can further strengthen my argument and more clearly articulate what type of politics readers are practicing. However, through the interactions with audiences I have conducted to date, I have shown that the relat ionship between orientalism and ARS complicates the story of
159 orientalism in the above numerated ways. While complicating orientalism with ARS can result in less clear and conclusive findings, acknowledging audiences as agents and part of the political disc ourse within orientalism is worth less definitive conclusions. By move beyond assuming how the texts interact with peoples worldviews and begin listening to the nuances representation studies of representation more broadly.
160 APPENDIX A POLLING DATA: AMERICANS FEELINGS ABOUT ISLAM/ MID DLE EAST In a January 2010 Gallup poll 43% of survey respondents admitted to having some prejudice toward Muslims, compared to 18% toward Christians, 1 5% toward Jews, and 14% toward Buddhists. The admitted pre judice toward Muslims is two to three times hig her than toward the other major religions. Figure A 1. American prejudice toward Islam/Middle East In the same survey, 53% of respondents said they did not have favorable opinions of Islam compared with 35% Buddhism, 25% Judaism, and 8% Christianity. A gain, the percentage of unfavorable opinions of Islam stands out as considerably greater when compared to other religions.
161 Figure A 2. Islam most negatively viewed religion Notation: Results for this Gallup Panel study are based on telephone interview s with 1,002 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Oct.31 Nov.13, 2009. Gallup Panel members are recruited through random selection methods. The panel is weighted so that it is demographically representative of the U.S. adult population. For result s based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is 3.4 percentage points. In an August 2010 Gallup Poll, when asked their overall impression of Islam, 55.4% of respondents replied unfavorably, 24.1% gave no response and 20.5% answered favorably. Figure A 3. Overall impression of Islam
162 In a December 2005 Gallup survey respondents were asked: In your own words, what do you admire most about the Muslim or Islamic world? While the question was open ended and received many responses, 32% of all respondents replied with common response was sincere religious beliefs at 22% and all the other responses totaled to 21% with non e dominating the remaining percentage. F igure A 4 Little admired about Muslim world Notation: These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,004 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Dec. 19 22, 2005. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is 3 percentage points. In addition to expressing prejudices and unfavorable opinions about Muslims and predominantly M uslim countries, respondents also believed Muslim countries to have a low opinion of the U.S. When respondents were asked in 2002 and 2007, if they thought people in Muslim countries have a favorable, neither favorable or unfavorable, or unfavorable opinio n of the United States, in most years at least 80% of Americans responded unfavorably.
163 Figure A 5 Americans believe Muslim countries are prejudice against U.S.
164 APPENDIX B 275 NOVEL SURVEY RESULTS When Novel Was Published 1919 2001: 79 82 years (average 1 per year) 2002 2012 196 10 years (average 20 per year) 1919 1925 2 1925 1959 0 1960 1969 1 1970 1979 5 1980 1989 12 1990 1999 32 2000 2009 161 2010 2012 40 Category Novel vs. Single Title Novel Category 251 (242 of those are H/M&B/S) Singl e title 24 Heroine Ethnicity Unknown: 19 Arab: 19 (17 after 2001) Arab/western mix: 6 (3 after 2001) White western: 229 (159 after 2001) Black western: 1 (after 2001) Asian western: 1 (after 2001) Hero Ethnicity Unknown: 0 Arab: 266 Arab/ w estern mix: 9 (3 after 2001) Era of Novel: Historical vs. Modern Unknown: 17 Historical: 8 Modern: 250 Location/ Setting of Novel 90% of the known heroines are white western women 96% of the known heroes are full Arab men 97% of the known novels are set in modern times 91% of the novels are category romances
165 Unknown: 105 (believe most to be fictional) Real Locations: 28 Before 2002 15 (ME and US) 2002 and afte r 13 Fictional Arab Countries: 142 Before 2002 39 2002 and after 103 APPENDIX C 80% of known locations are fictional Prior to 2002 62% of known locations are fictional settings After 2002 88% of known locations are fictional settings
166 APPENDIX C SPREADSHEET OF DESERT ROMANCE NOVELS The novels are listed by year published beginning with the earliest. Yellow represents the novels I read. Blue represents romance novels with a Middle Eastern theme, but are not DR novels because the hero is an American or British identified man. Author Nation Eth. Title Publisher Date Sp. Genre l. lady l. man location how meet Hichens, Robert Brit W The Garden of Allah 1904 modern W, Brit Euro. Monk Algeria she travels and meets a monk Hull, E.M. Brit W The Sheik B, S, M 1919 modern W, Brit. part Arab shiekh Algeria kidnapped Hull, E.M. Brit W Shadow of the East B, S, M 1921 modern W, Brit Engl ishman ? ? Hull, E.M. Brit W Sons of the Sheik B, S, M 1925 modern Arab Arab sheikh Algeria kidnapped, misunderstanding Winspear, Violet Brit W Blue Jasmine Harlequin 1969 modern W sheikh Oasis of Fadna kidnapping rescue Davis, Maggie Am. W The Sheik Fa wcet Crest 1977 modern ? Arab sheikh ? ? Lindsey, Johanna Brit W Captive Bride Avon 1977 modern W, Eng. 1/2 arab sheikh ? kidnapping Fitzgerald, Julia Brit W Royal Slave Bart Books 1978 historical W, Brit French, Sultan North Africa sold into slavery Lamb, Charlotte Brit W Desert Barbarian Harlequin 1978 ? W, Brit half Arab, Eng ? kidnapping Nicholson, Christina Brit W The Savage Sands Fawcet Crest 1978 historical W, Brit Arab and a German Algeria sold into slavery Pargeter, Margaret ? ? The Jewell ed Caftan Harlequin 1978 modern W part Arab? Morocco kidnap rescue Small, Bertrice W Am. The Kadin Avon 1978 historical W, Brit sultan ? sold into slavery Jordan, Penny Brit W Falcon's Prey Harlequin 1981 modern W, Brit Arab Kuwait meet family Dunaway, Diane ? ? Desert Hostage Dell 1982 ? W, Brit Arab sheikh El Abadan vengeance, kidnapping Faith, Barbara Am. W Bedouin Bride Silhouette 1984 modern W Arab man Morocco work, kidnapping Lyons, Mary Brit W Desire in the Desert Harlequin 1984 modern W arab pr ince Assir betrothal Monteith, Hayton ? ? Desert Princess Dell 1986 modern W, Am Arab prince Dharan college in US Wood, Sara Brit W Perfumes of Arabia Harlequin 1986 modern W, Brit Arab man Riyam work, Faith, Barbara Am. W Desert Song Silhouette 1987 modern W Arab man Morocco looking for brother Darcy, Emma Aus. W The Falcon's Mistress Harlequin 1988 modern W, ? Arab prince Bayrar looking for father Faith, Barbara Am. W Flower of the Desert Silhouette 1988 modern part Arab Arab man Morocco family ga thering Lindsey, Johanna Brit W Silver Angel Avon 1988 ? W Brit Pasha ? sold into slavery Mason, Connie Am W Desert Ecstacy Dorchester 1988 ? W, Brit Arab man Constantine rescues her from harem Edwards, Sarah ? ? Fire and Sand St. Martin's 1989 ? W, Ame rican Tunisia rescued from slavery Graham, Lynne Brit W An Arabian Courtship Harlequin 1989 modern W, Brit Arab prince Dharein arranged marriage
167 Author Nation Eth. Title Publisher Date Sp. Genre l. lady l. man location how meet Redd, Joanne ? ? Desert Bride Dell 1989 historical W, Brit Am. captain ? rescued from slavery Faith, Barbara Am. W Lord of the Desert Silhouette 1990 modern W, Am. Arab man Kashkiri work Wood, Sara Brit W Desert Hostage Harlequin 1990 modern W, Brit Arab Sheikh ? kidnapping Faith, Barbara Am. W Lion of the Desert Silhouette 1991 modern W Arab sheikh Rashdani rescued from kidnapping Wilding, Lynne Aus W The Sheikh Silhouette 1991 modern W Arab sheikh Cassar work, tutor Johansen, Iris Am W The Golden Barbarian Bantam 1992 ? W princess Arab sheikh ? arranged marriage Darcy, Emma Aus. W The Sheikh's Revenge Har lequin 1993 modern W, Brit Arab king Zubani revenge kidnapping Valentine, Terri Am W Sands of Time Zebra 1993 time travel W, Am, Dr sheikh Saudi Arabia time travel Faith, Barbara Am. W Desert Man Silhouette 1994 modern W, Am. Arab prince Adbu Resaba mani pulated her into going Malek, Doreen Owens Am W The Panther and the Pearl Dorchester 1994 modern W, Am. Arab man ? work, tutoring, kidnapped Marton, Sandra Am W Hostage of the Hawk Harelquin 1994 modern W, Am Arab man Morocco kidnapping Darcy, Emma Au s. W Climax of Passion Harlequin 1995 modern W, ? Arab sheikh Xabia kidnapping Sinclair, Tracy ? ? The Sultan's Wives Silhouette 1995 modern W, ? Arab sultan Sharribai work, photojournalism Bianchin, Helen Aus W Desert Mistress Harlequin 1996 modern W, ? Arab sheikh Saudi Arabia helping brother Graham, Lynne Brit W The Desert Bride Harlequin 1996 modern W, Brit Arab prince Datar work, academic, kidnapping Malek, Doreen Owens Am W Panther's Prey Dorchester 1996 historical W, Am. Arab man ? kidnapping M ayne, Elizabeth Am ? The Sheik and the Vixen Silhouette 1996 modern W, ? Arab sheikh Kuwait work, aircraft designer Ryan, Nan Am ? Burning Love Harper Collins 1996 ? W, ? Arab sheikh ? kidnapping Howard, Stephanie ? ? Amber and the Sheikh Harlequin 1997 modern W, ? Arab prince Ras al Houht work, researcher Mason, Connie Am W Sheik Dorchester 1997 ? Berber princ Arab sheikh Morocco warrior taken prisoner Sellers, Alexandra Can W Bride of the Sheikh Silhouette 1997 modern W, ? Arab prince ? reuniting, k idnapping Darcy, Emma Aus. W The Sheikh's Seduction Harlequin 1998 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? help out family Diamond, Jacqueline Am W How to Marry Real Live Sheikh Harlequin 1998 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? adopted baby Roberts, Doreen Brit W The Mercen ery and the Marriage Vow Silhouette 1998 modern W, Am. Am.man Saudi Arabia mystery Sinclair, Tracy ? ? The Seductive Sheik Silhouette 1998 modern W, Am. Arab sheikh Jalameer work, manager Toombs, Jane Am W Baby of Mine Silhouette 1998 modern W, ? Arab ma n Kholi searching for stolen child Young, Brittant ? ? The Sheik's Mistress Silhouette 1998 modern W, Am. part Arab king Sumaru helping brother Grace, Carol Am W Married to the Sheik Silhouette 1999 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? work, assistant McWilliams, Judith Am W The Sheik's Secret Silhouette 1999 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? mistaken identity Michaels, Kasey Am W The Sheikh's Secret Son Silhouette 1999 modern W, Am. Arab sheikh ? have a child together
168 Author Nation Eth. Title Publisher Date Sp. Genre l. lady l. man location how meet Reid, Michelle Brit W The Mistress Bride Harlequin 1999 modern W, Brit Arab sheikh Behran in a relationship Schone, Robin Am W The Lady's Tutor Zebra 1999 historical W, Brit half Arab England teach her seduction Sellers, Alexandra W CAN The Soiltary Sheikh Silhouette 1999 modern W, ? Arab prince ? work, tutor Sellers, Alexandra W CAN Sheikh's Ransom Silhouette 1999 modern W, ? Arab prince Bakarat kidnap, ransom Diamond, Jacqueline Am W Captured by a Sheikh Harlequin 2000 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? misunderstanding child Fielding, Liz Brit W His Desert Rose Harlequin 2000 modern W, Brit Arab prince Ras al Hajar journalist, kidnapping Gordon, Lucy Brit W The Sheikh's Reward Harlequin 2000 modern W, Brit Arab sheikh Kamar journalist, captive Leclaire, Day Am W To Marry a Sheik Harlequin 2000 modern Part Arab ? Arab prince Rahman escape marriage Mallery, Susan Am W The Sheik's Secret Bride Silhouette 2000 modern W, Am. Arab sheikh El Bahar kidnapping Mallery, Susan Am W The Sheik's Kidnapped Bride Silhouette 2000 modern W, Am. Arab prince El Bahar works for him Mallery, Susan Am W The Sheik's Arranged Marriage Silhouette 2000 modern W, Am. Arab prince ? arrnaged marriage Marton, Sandra Am W Mistress of the Sheikh Harlequin 2000 modern W, Am. Arab sheikh ? work for him McMahon, Barbara Am W The Sheikh' s Solution Silhouette 2000 modern W, Am. Arab sheikh Manasia work with him, pregnant Palmer, Diana Am W Lord of the Desert MIRA 2000 modern W, ? Arab sheikh Qawi ? Sellers, Alexandra Can W Sheikh's Honor Silhouette 2000 modern W, Canada Arab sheikh Barak at ? Sellers, Alexandra Can W Sheikh's Temptation Silhouette 2000 modern W, ? Arab sheikh Parvan reuniting Weston, Sophie Brit W The Sheikh's Bride Harlequin 2000 modern W Arab sheikh Cairo ? Had one date Dayton, Gail Am W Hide And Sheik Silhouette 200 1 modern W, ? Arab sheikh Qarif she is security guard DeVita, Sharon Am W I Married a Sheikh Silhouette 2001 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? consultant for him Grace, Carol Am W Taming the Sheik Silhouette 2001 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? masquarade as fiance G race, Carol Am W Fit for a Sheik Silhouette 2001 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? work for him Graham, Lynne Brit W The Arabian Mistress Harlequin 2001 modern W, ? Arab prince Jumar help brother, mistress Gold, Kristi Am W Her Ardent Sheikh Silhouette 2001 mod ern W, ? Arab sheikh Amythra protection, pregnancy Kendrick, Sharon Brit W Surrender to the Sheikh Harlequin 2001 modern W, Brit Arab prince Maraban ? Mallery, Susan Am W The Sheik and the Runaway Princess Silhouette 2001 modern half Am. pr. Arab prince ? kidnapping Sellers, Alexandra Can W Born Royal Silhouette 2001 modern Princess, ? Arab sheikh Tamir pregnant Sellers, Alexandra Can W Sheikh's Woman Silhouette 2001 modern ? Arab prince Barakat amnesia, baby Sellers, Alexandra Can W Sleeping with the Sultan Silhouette 2001 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? tv star, intrigue Sellers, Alexandra Can W Undercover Sultan Silhouette 2001 modern ? Arab sheikh ? intrigue underover Sellers, Alexandra Can W The Sultan's Heir Silhouette 2001 modern W, ? Arab sheikh Bar aket claimed child Walker, Kate Brit W Desert Affair Harlequin 2001 modern W, Brit Arab sheikh Kuimar short affair Cassidy, Carla Am W Promised to a Sheik Silhouette 2002 modern W, Am. Arab sheikh ? mistaken identity Collection Am W The Sheikhs of Summe r Silhouette 2002 modern ? Arab sheikh all fictional ? Creighton, Kathleen Am W Vigin Seduction Silhouette 2002 modern Arab pr. Am. man Tamir and U.S. forced wedding
169 Author Nation Eth. Title Publisher Date Sp. Genre l. lady l. man location how meet Cross, Carolyn The Sheikh Takes a Bride Silhouette 2002 modern local, pr. Arab sheikh Altaria arranged marriage Grace, Carol Falling for the Sheik Silhouette 2002 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? nursing him to health Graham, Lynne Brit W An Arabian Marriage Harlequin 2002 modern W, Arab prince Quamar claim child Herries, Anne Captive of the Harem Harlequin 2002 ? W, ? Arab man ? boat captured Herries, Anne The Sheikh Harlequin 2002 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? saves her life Jackson, Brenda Am. B Delaney's Desert Sheikh Silhouette 2002 modern B, Am. Arab sheikh mostly U.S. misundertandi ng Jones, Linda W. Secret Agent Sheik Silhouette 2002 modern ? Arab sheikh Tamir woman the enemy? Mallery, Susan Am W The Sheik and the Virgin Princess Silhouette 2002 modern half Arab pr. Arab sheikh Bahania protection Mallery, Susan Am W The Prince and the Pregnant Princess Silhouette 2002 modern W, ? Arab prince Bahania pregnant McMahon, Barbara Am W The Sheikh's Proposal Harlequin 2002 modern W, ? Arab sheikh Kamtansin marriage of convenience Porter, Jane The Sheikh's Wife Harlequin 2002 moder n W, ? Arab sheikh Zwar reunion, have child Rawlins, Debbie By the Sheikh's Command Harlequin 2002 modern W, Am. Arab prince ? Mostly in Texas honor marriage Reid, Michelle Brit W The Arabian Love Child Harlequin 2002 modern W, Brit Arab sheikh Rahm an reuinion, have child Reid, Michelle Brit W The Sheikh's Chosen Wife Harlequin 2002 modern W, ? Arab sheikh Rahman reuinion with husband Sellers, Alexandra W CAN Beloved Sheikh Silhouette 2002 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? save from kidnapping Sellers, Alexandra W CAN The Playboy Sheikh Silhouette 2002 modern ? Arab sheikh Baraket reunion, actress Vanak, Bonnie The Falcon and the Dove Dorchester 2002 historical W, Brit Arab sheikh Egypt Kidnap, time travel Gold, Kristi The Sheikh's Bidding Silhouet te 2003 modern W, ? Arab prince ? reunion, have child Gold, Kristi Expecting the Sheikh's Baby Silhouette 2003 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? marriage of convenience Jordan, Penny Brit W One Night witht the Sheikh Harlequin 2003 modern W, ? Arab sheikh Zura n paint for family Jordan, Penny Brit W The Sheikh's Virgin Bride Harlequin 2003 modern Arab Arab sheikh Zuran arranged marriage Laurens, Elly Royce Sealed by Revenge ? 2003 ? W, Arab sheikh ? intrigue Lee, Miranda Sold to the Sheikh Harlequin 20 03 modern W, Aus. Arab Prince Dubar model auction Singh, Nalini Desert Warrior Silhouette 2003 modern W, NZ Arab prince Zulheina revenge from former rel. Southwick, Teresa To Catch a Sheik Silhouette 2003 modern W, Am. Arab prince El Zafir work in his country Southwick, Teresa To Kiss a Sheik Silhouette 2003 modern W, Am. Arab sheikh El Zafir nanny to his kids Southwick, Teresa To Wed a Sheik Silhouette 2003 modern W, Am. Arab prince El Zafir nurse in his country Swift, Sue In the Sheikh' s Arms Silhouette 2003 modern W, Am. Arab sheikh Adnan and U.S. revenge marriage Vanak, Bonnie The Tiger and the Tomb Dorchester 2003 ? W, Brit half Arab ? resuce her father Diamond, Jacqueline Sheik Surrender Harlequin 2004 modern W, Am. Arab sheikj Alqedar investing brother's murder Gold, Kristi Daring the Dynamic Sheikh Silhouette 2004 modern Arab Arab sheikh Azzril going home from US Gold, Kristi Challenged by the Sheikh Silhouette 2004 modern W, Am. Arab sheikh ? teaches her to ride horses Gold, Kristi Fit for a Sheik Silhouette 2004 modern W, Am. Arab sheikh ? intrigue Kendrick, Sharon The Desert Prince's Mistress Harlequin 2004 modern W, Brit Arab prince Maraban model for his company
170 Author Nation Eth. Title Publisher Date Sp. Genre l. lady l. man location how meet Mallery, Susan Am W The Sheik and the Princess Bride Silhouette 2004 modern W, ? Arab prince Bahania work as flight instructor Mallery, Susan Am W The Sheik and the Princess in Waiting Silhouette 2004 modern W, Am. Arab prince Bahania reunion, married Marton, Sandra The Sheikh's Convenient Bride Ha rlequin 2004 modern W, Am. Arab king Suliyam work for him, conv. Marriage Mason, Connie The Pirate Prince Dorchester 2004 historical? W, Brit Arab royalty ? saved from slavery McMahon, Barbara Am W Her Desert Family Harlequin 2004 modern W, Am. Arab s heikh ? widow Monroe, Lucy The Sheikh's Bartered Bride Harlequin 2004 modern W, ? Arab sheikh Jawhar arrnaged marriage Morgan, Sarah In the Sheikh's Marriage Bed Harlequin 2004 modern W, ? Arab prince Kazban help brother for marriage Porter, Jane The Sultan's Bought Bride Harlequin 2004 modern W, ? Princ Arab sultan Baraka fraudulant identity Sellers, Alexandra Can W The Ice Maiden's Sheikh Silhouette 2004 modern Arab prin? Arab sheikh Bagestan flees Arab country Sellers, Alexandra Can W Sheikh's Castaway Silhouette 2004 modern Arab prin? Arab sheikh ? betrayal and reuinion Wright, Laura A Bed of Sand Silhouette 2004 modern W, ? Arab sheikh Emand pretend marriage Darcy, Emma Aus. W Traded to the Sheikh Harlequin 2005 modern W, ? Arab sheikh Zanzibar helping sister French, Isabelle K Beauty and the Sheikh Universe 2005 modern W, Am. Arab sheikh Moldhar plane crash in his country Graham, Lynne Brit W The Sheikh's Innocent Bride Harlequin 2005 modern W, Brit Arab prince ? pregnant, marriage Jordan, Penny Brit W Posessed by the Sheikh Harlequin 2005 modern W, ? Arab sheikh Zuran rescues her from abductors Kendrick, Sharon Brit W Exposed: The Sheikh's Mistress Harlequin 2005 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? past relationship Mallery, Susan Am W The Sheik and the Bride Who Said No Silhouette 2005 modern W, ? Arab prince Bahania help neice, captured Mallery, Susan Am W The Sheik and the Virgin Secretary Silhouette 2005 modern W, ? Arab prince Lucia Serrat works for him Marton, Dana Am W The Sheik's Safety Harlequin 2005 modern W, Am. Arab sheikh ? She is American soldier Porter, Jane The Sheikh's Virgin Harlequin 2005 modern part Arab Arab sheikh Baraka political marriage Sellers, Alexandra W CAN The Fierce and Tender Sheikh Silhouette 2005 moder n Arab princ. Arab sheikh Bagestan bring princess home Stephens, Susan The Sheikh's Captive Bride Harlequin 2005 modern W, ? Arab sheikh Abadan pregnancy Swift, Sue Engaged to the Sheik Silhouette 2005 modern W, Am. Arab sheikh ? arrananged marriage Vanak, Bonnie The Cobra and the Concubine Dorchester 2005 ? ? white Arab ? he helps protect her Weston, Sophie In the Arms of the Sheikh Harlequin 2005 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? meet at friend's wedding White, Loreth Anne The Sheik Who Loved Me Si lhouette 2005 modern W, Brit Arab sheikh ? spy sent to look into him Wright, Laura Her Royal Bed Silhouette 2005 modern Arab princ. Am. man Emand revenge seduction Wright, Laura The Sultan's Bed Silhouette 2005 modern W, Am. Arab sultan Emand he is looking for sister Fielding, Liz The Sheikh's Guarded Heart Harlequin 2006 modern W, ? Arab sheikh Ramal Hamrah he rescues her Jones, Linda W. The Sheik and I Silhouette 2006 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? peace negotiations
171 Author Nation Eth. Title Publisher Date Sp. Genre l. lady l. man location how meet Lee, Miranda Love Slave to the Sheikh Harlequin 2006 modern W, Aus. Arab sheikh ? sexual proposition Marton, Dana Undercover Sheik Harlequin 2006 modern W, Am. Arab sheikh Beharrain he rescues her Marton, Sandra The Desert Virgin Harlequin 2006 modern W, Am. Am. military Baslaam he rescues her McMahon, Barbara US W The Sheikh's Secret Harlequin 2006 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? wants to marry her McMahon, Barbara US W The Nanny and the Sheikh Harlequin 2006 modern W, ? Arab sheikh Qu'Arim help as nanny Morey, Trish Sto len by the Sheikh Harlequin 2006 modern W, Arab sheikh Jebbai work for him Morgan, Sarah The Sultan's Virgin Bride Harlequin 2006 modern W, ? Arab sultan Tazkash revenge marriage Parv, Valerie Desert Justice Silhouette 2006 modern W, ? Arab sheikh Nazaar he protects her Porter, Jane The Sheikh's Disobedient Bride Harlequin 2006 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? captured Stephens, Susan Bedded by the Desert King Harlequin 2006 modern W, ? Arab sheikh Zaddara have a past Vanak, Bonnie The Panther an d the Pyramid Dorchester 2006 historical W, Brit Arab/Eng sheikh Egypt adventure in Egypt Walker, Kate At the Sheikh's Command Harlequin 2006 modern W, ? Arab prince Barakhara helping brother White, Loreth Anne A Sultan's Ransom Silhouette 2006 moder n W, ? Arab sheikh ? she dr. need her to stop virus Fielding, Liz The Sheikh's Unsuitable Bride Harlequin 2007 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? his driver in western country Gates, Olivia The Sheikh Surgeon's Proposal Harlequin 2007 modern W, ? Dr. Arab she ikh Damhoor both doctors Graham, Lynne The Desert Sheikh's Captive Wife Harlequin 2007 modern W, Brit Arab prince Bakhar reuninted, revenge Jordan, Penny Brit W A Royal Bride at the Sheikh's Command Harlequin 2007 modern local? Arab sheikh Niroli not Arab? duty marriage Jordan, Penny Brit W Taken by the Sheikh Harlequin 2007 modern W, Brit Arab prince Zuran finding wife for brother Kendrick, Sharon The Desert King's Virgin Bride Harlequin 2007 modern W, Brit Arab sheikh Kharastan marry for honor K endrick, Sharon The Sheikh's English Bride Harlequin 2007 modern W, Brit Arab prince Kharastan inherit kingdom Kendrick, Sharon The Sheikh's Unwilling Wife Harlequin 2007 modern W, ? Arab Italian prince Kharastan reuniting, have child LaCroix, Marian ne Stolen by the Sheikh Red Rose 2007 ? W, Brit Arab sheikh Morocco sold to sheikh Mallery, Susan The Sheikh and the Christmas Bride Silhouette 2007 modern W, ? Arab prince El Deharia nanny Porter, Jane The Sheikh's Chosen Queen Harlequin 2007 mo dern W, Brit Arab sheikh ? reuniting Radley, Tessa The Desert Bride of Al Zayed Silhouette 2007 modern W, NZ Arab sheikh Zayed reuniting Southwick, Teresa The Sheikh's Contract Bride Harlequin 2007 modern W, ? Arab sheikh Bha'Khar arrananged marriage Vanak, Bonnie The Sword and the Sheath Dorchester 2007 ? Arab Arab sheikh ? battle together West, Annie Aus. W The Sheikh's Ransomed Bride Harlequin 2007 modern W, ? Arab prince island Kingdom of rescued West, Annie Aus. W For the Sheikh's P leasure Harlequin 2007 modern W, F Arab prince island Kingdom of hard to get Beckenham, Jane The Sheikh's Proposal Red Rose 2008 modern ? Arab sheikh La Isla Perfumada tension, accustations Gates, Olivia The Desert King Silhouette 2008 mod ern W, Am, mod king Judar reunion, marriage for duty Gates, Olivia The Desert Lord's Baby Silhouette 2008 modern ? prince Judar have child together
172 Author Nation Eth. Title Publisher Date Sp. Genre l. lady l. man location how meet Gates, Olivia The Desert Lord's Bride Silhouette 2008 modern 1/2, Fr prince Judar marriage for duty G race, Carol Her Sheikh Boss Harlequin 2008 modern W, F prince Tazzatine works for him as assistant Jans, Honey The Sheik's Captive Red Rose 2008 modern ? Arab sheikh Vacation Greek island she thinks he is a thief Jordan, Penny Brit W The Sheikh's B lackmailed Mistress Harlequin 2008 modern W, ? Arab prince ? become his mistress Lawrence, Kim Desert Prince, Defiant Virgin Harlequin 2008 modern W, Eng. Arab prince ? beauty in disguise Mallery, Susan The Sheikh and the Pregnant Bride Silhouette 20 08 modern W, ? Arab prince El Daharia pregant with another, mechanic Marsh, Nicola The Desert Prince's Proposal Harlequin 2008 modern W, F prince Adhara needs to marry for duty Marton, Dana Sheik Protector Harlequin 2008 modern W, Am prince Beharra in protect her and brother's baby Marton, Dana Sheik Seduction Harlequin 2008 modern W, Am prince Beharrain protects her from danger Marton, Sandra The Sheikh's Defiant Bride Harlequin 2008 modern W, ? Arab prince Dubaac baby, marriage duty Marton, Sandra The Sheikh's Rebellious Mistress Harlequin 2008 modern W, Am Arab sheikh Senahdar works for him Marton, Sandra The Sheikh's Wayward Wife Harlequin 2008 modern ? Arab sheikh ? rescues her from marriage McMahon, Barbara US W Rescued by the Sheik h Harlequin 2008 modern W, ? Arab sheikh Moquansaid rescues her, photographer Monroe, Lucy Hired: The Sheikh's Secretary Mistress Harlequin 2008 modern W, Am. Arab sheikh ? works for him, time to marry Morey, Trish The Sheikh's Convenient Virgin Harl equin 2008 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? marriage of duty Oakley, Natasha Cinderella and the Sheikh Harlequin 2008 modern W, ? Arab sheikh Amrah goes for adventure Pierce, Nicole L. Seduced by the Sheik Red Rose 2008 modern W, Am. Arab man mostly U.S. he helps her Porter, Jane King of the Desert, Captive Bride Harlequin 2008 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? he rescues her Shaw, Chantelle At the Sheikh's Bidding Harlequin 2008 modern W, ? Arab royalty Qubbah adopted son is royalty Stephens, Susan Deser t King, Pregnant Mistress Harlequin 2008 modern W, ? Arab sheikh Arab island she gets pregnant Waters, Sheniqua Slave Girl Red Rose 2008 ? Arab Turkish prince Egypt, Turkey sold into slavery Fielding, Liz Her Desert Dream Harlequin 2009 modern W, ? A rab sheikh ? look a like to celebrity Hardy, Kate Surrender to the Playboy Sheikh Harlequin 2009 modern W, Eng, B Arab prince Harrat Salma caters for him Hewitt, Kate Harlequin 2009 modern ? Arab prince Calista engage d to his brother Hewitt, Kate The Sheikh's Love Child Harlequin 2009 modern W, ? Arab prince kingdom of Biryal reunited, father of her child Kendrick, Sharon Harlequin 2009 modern local, poor Arab prince Calis ta work for him Lawrence, Kim Desert Prince, Blackmailed Bride Harlequin 2009 modern W, ? Arab, prince Kingdom of Zatara arrnages marriage for brother Mallery, Susan The Sheikh and the Bought Bride Silhouette 2009 modern W, Am Arab prince El Deharia works for him, mistress debt Marinelli, Carol Secret Sheikh, Secret Baby Harlequin 2009 modern W, ?, Arab prince, ? pregnant, duty marriage
173 Author Nation Eth. Title Publisher Date Sp. Genre l. lady l. man location how meet mw dr Marton, Dana Desert Ice Daddy Harlequin 2009 modern W, Am wealthy Arab man Texas helps find her son M organ, Sarah The Sheikh's Virgin Princess Harlequin 2009 ? W, princ Arab Sheikh kingdom of Zangrar arranged marriage Philips, Sabrina The Desert King's Bejewelled Bride Harlequin 2009 modern W, ? Arab prince ? reuinted, she is a model Porter, Jane Duty, Desire and the Desert King Harlequin 2009 modern W, ?author Arab prince Sarq duty marriage, wants her Radley, Tessa The Untamed Sheikh Silhouette 2009 modern W, ? Arab prince Dhahara thinks she is causing problems Sellers, Alexandra W CAN Sheik Silhouette 2009 modern W, ? Arab prince Khouri reunited, stop his marriage Stephens, Susan Sheikh Boss, Hot Desert Nights Harlequin 2009 modern W, ? Arab prince A Qaban work in his country Webber, Meredith Claimed by the Desert Prince Harlequin 2009 modern W, F, dr. Arab prince, dr Zaheer needs to marry, wants her West, Annie Aus. W Harlequin 2009 modern W, Aus Arab prince Shajehar marriage of duty Young, Donna Captive of the Desert King Harlequin 20 09 modern Asian, Am King Taer he protects her, journalist Beckenham, Jane In Love with the Sheikh Red Rose 2010 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? bidding war Braun, Jackie A Dinner, A Date, A Desert Sheikh Harlequin 2010 modern W, Am. Arab sheikh ? dating B ruhns, Nina Lord of the Desert Harlequin 2010 modern W, Am. English man Egypt paranormal, ancient Egypt Bruhns, Nina Shadow of the Sheikh Harlequin 2010 modern W, Am. Arab sheikh Egypt paranormal, ancient Egypt Collection Chosen by the Sheikh Harle quin 2010 modern W, ? Arab prince ? reunited, Conrad, Linda Her Sheik Protector Silhouette 2010 modern W, Am. Arab man ? he protects her Crews, Caitlyn Harlequin 2010 modern ? Arab sheikh ? duty marriage Dees, Cindy Medusa's Sheikh Silhouette 2010 modern W, Am. Arab prince ? she guards him, special opps Gates, Olivia To Tame a Sheikh Silhouette 2010 modern Arab Arab sheikh ? reunited, pregnant Graham, Lynne Desert Prince, Bride of Innocence Harlequin 2010 mod ern Eng, nanny prince Quaram pregnant James, Melissa The Sheikh's Destiny Harlequin 2010 modern ? Arab sheikh ? nursing him to health Lawrence, Kim The Sheikh's Impatient Virgin Harlequin 2010 modern ? Arab sheikh ? arranged marriage Leigh, Lora Guilty Pleasure St. Martin's 2010 modern W, Am. Arab sheikh ? FBI agents Lewis, Jennifer Desert Prince Silhouette 2010 modern W, Am. Arab man ? business relationship Lucas, Jennie Tamed: The Barbarian King Harlequin 2010 modern Arab princ Arab pri nce ? overcoming obstacles Marinelli, Carol Wedlocked: Banished Sheikh, Untouched Queen Harlequin 2010 modern ? Arab prince ? marrying for duty Marinelli, Carol Harleqiun 2010 modern ? Arab sheikh ? work as his hou sekeeper McMahon, Marrying the Scarred Sheikh Harlequin 2010 modern ? Arab prince Quishari she accepts him
174 Author Nation Eth. Title Publisher Date Sp. Genre l. lady l. man location how meet Barbara McMahon, Barbara Am W Accidently the Sheikh's Wife Harlequin 2010 modern W, Am. Arab sheikh ? pilot for him Morey, Trish Forbidden: Th e Sheikh's Virgin Harlequin 2010 modern ? Arab sheikh ? betrayed by woman Radley, Tessa Saved by the Sheikh Silhouette 2010 modern W, ? Arab prince ? she is pregnant Stephens, Susan Brit W Ruling Sheikh, Unruly Mistress Harlequin 2010 modern W, ? Ara b sheikh ? she is pregnant Stephens, Susan Brit W Master of the Desert Harlequin 2010 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? she is a stowaway Webber, Meredith Desert King, Doctor Daddy Harlequin 2010 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? she is a dr. helping his daughter Wes t, Annie Scandal: His Majesty's Love Child Harlequin 2010 modern W, ? Arab prince ? pregnancy White, Loreth Anne The Sheik's Comand Silhouette 2010 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? captive for protection Aidan, Nadia The Sheikh's Concubine Cobblestone 201 1 ? Arab Arab sheikh ? brought to Harem Bruhns, Nina Vampire Sheikh Harlequin 2011 modern W, Am. Arab vampire Egypt paranormal, ancient Egypt Collection Desert Knights Harlequin 2011 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? bodyguard/terrorism Conrad, Linda Th e Sheik's Lost Princess Silhouette 2011 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? help rescue son Conrad, Linda Secret Agent Sheik Silhouette 2011 modern W, Am. Arab man Rio de Janiero CIA agents nuclear weapons Gates, Olivia To Touch a Sheikh Harlequin 2011 moder n Arab Arab sheikh ? reunion Gates, Olivia To Tempt a Sheikh Harlequin 2011 modern W, ? Arab prince ? rescues her from enemy Graham, Lynne Jewel in his Crown Harlequin 2011 modern W, Brit Arab prince ? marriage for duty Green, Abby Breaking the Sheikh's Rules Harlequin 2011 modern Arab Arab sheikh Merkazad works for him Holland, Sarah Desert Destiny Harlequin 2011 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? kidnapped Kaye, Marguerite Brit W The Governess and the Sheikh Harlequin 2011 historical W, Brit Arab sh eikh ? governess for daughter Kaye, Marguerite Brit W Innocent in the Sheikh's Harem Harlequin 2011 historical W, Brit Arab sheikh ? rescues her Kaye, Marguerite Brit W The Sheikh's Impetuous Love Slave Harlequin 2011 historical W, ? Arab sheikh Arabia g iven a woman as a gift Lane, Katheryn The Royal Sheikh Amazon 2011 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? architect for him Lennox, Elizabeth Am W The Sheik's Love Child Amazon 2011 modern W, ? Arab prince Asham pregnant Lennox, Elizabeth Am W The Sheik's Missing Bride Amazon 2011 modern Arab Arab sheikh ? engaged Lennox, Elizabeth Am W The Sheik's Rebellious Mistress Amazon 2011 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? intrigue Lennox, Elizabeth Am W The Sheik's Unfinished Business Amazon 2011 modern W, ? Arab sheikh Ashir re union, misunderstanding Marinelli, Carol Aus W Heart of the Desert Harlequin 2011 modern W, ? Arab prince ? suppose to marry for duty Marton, Dana Am W The Black Sheep Sheik Harlequin 2011 modern W, Am. dr. Arab sheikh Wyoming protect her, pregnant McMa hon, Barbara Am W Sheik Daddy Harlequin 2011 modern W, ? Arab sheikh ? baby, reunion Metcalfe, Josie Sheikh Surgeon Claims his Bride Harlequin 2011 modern W, ?, dr. Arab sheikh, dr ? work together
175 Author Nation Eth. Title Publisher Date Sp. Genre l. lady l. man location how meet Monroe, Lucy For Duty's Sake Harlequin 2011 modern ? Arab sheikh ? broken betrothal Morgan, Sarah Bella and the Merciless Sheikh Harlequin 2011 modern W, ? Arab Sheikh ? resucues her in desert Morgan, Teresa Cinderella and the Sheikh Amazon 2011 modern W, Am. Arab sheikh Abbas avoid marriage Morgan, T eresa Handcuffed to the Sheikh Amazon 2011 modern W, ? Arab prince ? captured, mistaken identity Peterson, Ann Voss Seized by the Sheik Harlequin 2011 modern W, Am. Arab Sheikh Wyoming intrigue, death threats Webber, Meredith Sheikh, Children's D Harlequin 2011 modern W, ?, dr. Arab sheikh, dr Al Janeen she comes to help his mother Winters, Rebecca Her Desert Prince Harlequin 2011 modern W, Am. Arab prince Nafud rescues her in sandstorm Yates, Maisey The Inherited Bride Harlequi n 2011 modern Arab princ Arab prince ? arranged marriage Cox, Maggie One Desert Night Harlequin 2012 modern W, ? Arab sheikh Kabuyadir reunited, historian wort there Green, Abby Secrets of the Oasis Harlequin 2012 modern ?, Fr sheikh ? reunited Gre en, Abby The Sultan's Choice Harlequin 2012 modern W, ? Arab sultan ? arranged marriage Harris, Lynne Raye Strangers in the Desert Harlequin 2012 modern W, ? Arab prince ? reunited, thought wife dead West, Annie Girl in the Bedouin Tent Harlequ in 2012 modern W, ? Arab prince ? rescued from kidnapping
176 APPENDIX D ROMANCE NOVEL COVERS Blue Jasmine (1969) Her Desert Family (2004) The Unta med Sheik (2009)
177 LIST OF REFERENCES Abu Lughod. 2005. Dramas of Nationhood: The Politics of Television in Egypt Chicago: University of Chicago Press. All About Romance website : www.likesbooks.com Austin, Jane. (1813) 1995. Pride and Prejudice Mineola, NY: Dover Publications. Austin, Jane ( 1816 ) 1999. Emma Mineola, NY: Dover Publications Austin, Jane. (1811) 1996. Sense and Sensibility Mineola, NY: Dover Publications. ientalism and Feminine Desire in the Desert Hecate 23(1): 9 40 New York Times December 8. Bronte, Charlotte ( 1847 ) 2008 Jane Eyre Radford, VA: Wilder Publications. Bruhn s, Nina. 2011. Vampire Sheikh Toronto: Harlequin. Burning Sands 1922. Directed by George Melford New York: Paramount Pictures. Chodorow, Nancy. 1978. T he Reproduction of Mothering: Psychoanalysis and the Sociology of Gender Berkeley: University of Cali fornia Press Craig, Cristie and Faye Hughes. 2008 The Everything Guide t o Writing a Romance Novel. Avon, MA: Adams Media Reader Response Criticism ed. Jane Tompkins, 101 117. Baltimore: John Hopkins Universit y. The New Republic (August 30, 1980): 25 29 Faith, Barbara. 1990. Lord of the Desert NY, NY: Silhouette. Fantastic Fiction website: fantasticfiction.co.uk Felix the Cat Shatters the Sheik. 1926. Directed by Otto Me ssmer. USA: Pat Sullivan Cartoons. In Reader Response Criticism ed. Jane Tompkins, 70 100. Baltimore: John Hopkins University. Galloway Space and Culture 7 Sep., 2007. Web. April 20, 2010.
178 Gates, Olivia. 2008. The Desert King NY, NY: Silhouette. Gledhill, 1988 Pleasurable Negotiations. In Feminist Film Theory: A Reader ed Sue Tho rnham 166 179 New York: New York University Press. Gottschalk, Peter and Gabriel Greenberg. Graham, Lynne. 1989. An Arabian Courtship Toronto: Harlequin. Graham, Lynne. 1997. The Desert Bride Toronto: Harlequin Greer, Germaine. 1970. The Female Eunuch London: MacGibbon and Kee. Hall, Stuart. Cultural Studies Media, Culture and Society ( 2 ) :57 72. Hardy, Kate. 2009. Surrender to the Playboy Sheikh Toronto: Harlequin. Harem Scarum. 1965 Directed by Gene Nelson. L.A. CA: Four Le af Pro ductions. Harlequin website: www.e harlequin .com Hobson, Dorothy. 1982. Crossroads: The Drama of a Soap Opera Methuen: University of Michigan. hooks, bell. 2000. Feminism is for Everybody Cambridge, MA: Sout h End Press. Hull, E.M. (1919)1977 The Sheik Mattituck: The American Reprint Company. Hull, E.M. 1921. The Shadows of the East Boston: Small. Maynard and Company. Hull, E.M. 1925 Sons of the Sheik Boston: Small, Maynard and Company. Irwin, 2006 Danger ous Knowledge: Orientalism and its Discontents NY, NY: Overlook Press. In Reader Response Criticism ed. Jane Tompkins, 50 69. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press. Jackson, Bren da. 2002. NY, NY: Silhouette Books. Signs 35(4): 993 1017. Romanc Ame rican Quarterly : 895 928. Jordan, Penny. 1981. Toronto: Harlequin.
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183 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Catherine Jean is a graduate student at the University of Florida. Sh e received esearch in 2013 and her M.A. in International Relations in 2012 also from the University of Florida.