• Intimate Outsiders: The Harem in Ottoman and Orientalist Art and Travel Literature

    Author(s):
    Pages: 248
    Illustrations: 39 illustrations (incl. 32 in color)
    Sales/Territorial Rights: World
    Series: Objects/Histories
    Series Editor(s): Nicholas Thomas
  • Cloth: $94.95 - In Stock
    978-0-8223-3956-4
  • Paperback: $24.95 - In Stock
    978-0-8223-3967-0
  • Quantity
  • Add To Bag
  • Illustrations ix

    Acknowledgments xi

    Introduction: Intimate Outsiders 1

    Part 1: John Frederick Lewis's Harem Paintings

    Chapter One. The Languid Lotus-Eater 19

    Chapter Two. "Mr. Lewis's Oriental paradises" 38

    Part 2: British Women's Travelogues

    Chapter Three. Pleasures in Detail 59

    Chapter Four. Being Seen 80

    Chapter Five. Sartorial Adventures and Satiric Narratives 92

    Part 3: Harem Portraiture

    Chapter Six. The Politics of Portraiture behind the Veil 109

    Chapter Seven. Oriental Dreams 128

    Epilogue 150

    Notes 157

    Selected Bibliography 177

    Index 187
  • “[Roberts] shows how Ottoman women took an active part in [the] cultural exchange with Western women and technologies for their own purposes and how these relations influenced Western women. This study is an important contribution for Middle Eastern studies in general, and Ottoman studies, in particular as well as women’s studies, cross-cultural studies and art history.”

    “Mary Roberts’s book marks an important turn in the study of representations of the harem in both visual and written texts. . . . Mary Roberts is a rare scholar, one who ably analyzes western and eastern art, when the discipline of art history has generally been confined to narrower (hemi-)spheres of expertise. Roberts’s book bridges the gap in scholarship about the Orientalists and the Ottomans. She writes with real depth and clarity informed by new methodologies that guide but never tyrannize her content. All this comes in a book format that is well-organized, accessible, affordable - and a fascinating read.”

    “Providing an overview of westernization in the empire and the growing interest in European visual culture through the privacy of harem interior, Mary Roberts’s Intimate Outsiders sets an example for interdisciplinary studies. . .”

    “Roberts formulates a cogent argument about the subtle, nuanced relationship between various Ottoman elites and their European bourgeois interlocutors, examining a series of case studies ranging from famous British orientalist paintings by John Frederick Lewis, to British women’s travelogues, to honorific portraits commissioned by elite Ottoman women. . . . Roberts’s intervention is undoubtedly a crucial and useful one, opening up the study of orientalism to acknowledge a syncretic and collaborative exchange between ‘West’ and ‘East.’”

    “Roberts hits all the important marks, and hits them well: political agency; gender roles; the ways in which the harem both fostered and smothered particular types of female power; the ways in which the encounter between westerner and oriental provided the latter an occasion to orchestrate what it was that was on display. All in and of themselves important–and complicated–questions, ones that too often have been treated superficially or unimaginatively. Here we get them all, with care and subtlety–and in a package that makes for surprisingly enjoyable reading.”

    “Roberts offers a three-part, truly interdisciplinary and innovative journey over complicated terrain, but it’s a smooth enjoyable read.”

    “Roberts offers her readers a nuanced take on broader questions of gender, power and imagery. . . . Intimate Outsiders opens up an exciting new field of inquiry.”

    “Roberts’ elegant book is the first to offer an extensive critical analysis of artists at work in the harem. Well written, incorporating vivid description too rarely associated with successful academic writing, its verbal imagery helps to give substance to those artists Roberts scrutinizes, while reined in to serve her analyses. . . . This volume is a remarkable contribution to the scholarly literature on Orientalism. . . . Essential. Lower-level undergraduates and above; general readers.”

    “The intimacy Roberts describes in this excellent book is exciting because it provides an alternative to the distancing and empowering notion of orientalism advocated by Said. . . . The stories told in Intimate Outsiders form a significant contribution to the history of painting in nineteenth-century Istanbul, and to the history of international networks among women of privileged social classes. What else they might mean will depend on what, if anything, is able to succeed ‘orientalism’ as a tool for the political analysis of global culture.”

    “Using an impressive range of archival resources, Intimate Outsiders is a lucid, nuanced and engaging interdisciplinary study of gendered spectatorship, cross-cultural encounters and indigenous agency in nineteenth-century Istanbul and Cairo. Roberts’s work positions itself authoritatively among feminist art historical and literary studies of Orientalism and should be considered an essential read for anyone interested in the field.”

    Reviews

  • “[Roberts] shows how Ottoman women took an active part in [the] cultural exchange with Western women and technologies for their own purposes and how these relations influenced Western women. This study is an important contribution for Middle Eastern studies in general, and Ottoman studies, in particular as well as women’s studies, cross-cultural studies and art history.”

    “Mary Roberts’s book marks an important turn in the study of representations of the harem in both visual and written texts. . . . Mary Roberts is a rare scholar, one who ably analyzes western and eastern art, when the discipline of art history has generally been confined to narrower (hemi-)spheres of expertise. Roberts’s book bridges the gap in scholarship about the Orientalists and the Ottomans. She writes with real depth and clarity informed by new methodologies that guide but never tyrannize her content. All this comes in a book format that is well-organized, accessible, affordable - and a fascinating read.”

    “Providing an overview of westernization in the empire and the growing interest in European visual culture through the privacy of harem interior, Mary Roberts’s Intimate Outsiders sets an example for interdisciplinary studies. . .”

    “Roberts formulates a cogent argument about the subtle, nuanced relationship between various Ottoman elites and their European bourgeois interlocutors, examining a series of case studies ranging from famous British orientalist paintings by John Frederick Lewis, to British women’s travelogues, to honorific portraits commissioned by elite Ottoman women. . . . Roberts’s intervention is undoubtedly a crucial and useful one, opening up the study of orientalism to acknowledge a syncretic and collaborative exchange between ‘West’ and ‘East.’”

    “Roberts hits all the important marks, and hits them well: political agency; gender roles; the ways in which the harem both fostered and smothered particular types of female power; the ways in which the encounter between westerner and oriental provided the latter an occasion to orchestrate what it was that was on display. All in and of themselves important–and complicated–questions, ones that too often have been treated superficially or unimaginatively. Here we get them all, with care and subtlety–and in a package that makes for surprisingly enjoyable reading.”

    “Roberts offers a three-part, truly interdisciplinary and innovative journey over complicated terrain, but it’s a smooth enjoyable read.”

    “Roberts offers her readers a nuanced take on broader questions of gender, power and imagery. . . . Intimate Outsiders opens up an exciting new field of inquiry.”

    “Roberts’ elegant book is the first to offer an extensive critical analysis of artists at work in the harem. Well written, incorporating vivid description too rarely associated with successful academic writing, its verbal imagery helps to give substance to those artists Roberts scrutinizes, while reined in to serve her analyses. . . . This volume is a remarkable contribution to the scholarly literature on Orientalism. . . . Essential. Lower-level undergraduates and above; general readers.”

    “The intimacy Roberts describes in this excellent book is exciting because it provides an alternative to the distancing and empowering notion of orientalism advocated by Said. . . . The stories told in Intimate Outsiders form a significant contribution to the history of painting in nineteenth-century Istanbul, and to the history of international networks among women of privileged social classes. What else they might mean will depend on what, if anything, is able to succeed ‘orientalism’ as a tool for the political analysis of global culture.”

    “Using an impressive range of archival resources, Intimate Outsiders is a lucid, nuanced and engaging interdisciplinary study of gendered spectatorship, cross-cultural encounters and indigenous agency in nineteenth-century Istanbul and Cairo. Roberts’s work positions itself authoritatively among feminist art historical and literary studies of Orientalism and should be considered an essential read for anyone interested in the field.”

  • “This is an outstanding example of a truly interdisciplinary study, integrating painting, photography, travel narrative, and especially harem portraiture. Mary Roberts describes encounters between women—both British travelers and the women of Istanbul and Cairo harems—in a refreshing, innovative analysis of the historical and imaginary workings of harem imagery as forms of cross-cultural exchanges and interactions.” — Julie F. Codell, editor of, Imperial Co-Histories: National Identities and the British and Colonial Press

    “Transforming debates about Orientalism, gender, and cultural and political agency, Mary Roberts writes with beguiling simplicity about complicated subjects, taking her readers through a potentially bewildering maze of interdisciplinary and cross-cultural material with a voice both authoritative and accessible.” — Reina Lewis, author of, Rethinking Orientalism: Women, Travel, and the Ottoman Harem

  • Permission to Photocopy (coursepacks)

    If you are requesting permission to photocopy material for classroom use, please contact the Copyright Clearance Center at copyright.com;

    If the Copyright Clearance Center cannot grant permission, you may request permission from our Copyrights & Permissions Manager (use Contact Information listed below).

    Permission to Reprint

    If you are requesting permission to reprint DUP material (journal or book selection) in another book or in any other format, contact our Copyrights & Permissions Manager (use Contact Information listed below).

    Images/Art

    Many images/art used in material copyrighted by Duke University Press are controlled, not by the Press, but by the owner of the image. Please check the credit line adjacent to the illustration, as well as the front and back matter of the book for a list of credits. You must obtain permission directly from the owner of the image. Occasionally, Duke University Press controls the rights to maps or other drawings. Please direct permission requests for these images to permissions@dukeupress.edu.
    For book covers to accompany reviews, please contact the publicity department.

    Subsidiary Rights/Foreign Translations

    If you're interested in a Duke University Press book for subsidiary rights/translations, please contact permissions@dukeupress.edu. Include the book title/author, rights sought, and estimated print run.

    Disability Requests

    Instructions for requesting an electronic text on behalf of a student with disabilities are available here.

    Rights & Permissions Contact Information

    Email: permissions@dukeupress.edu
    Email contact for coursepacks: asstpermissions@dukeupress.edu
    Fax: 919-688-4574
    Mail:
    Duke University Press
    Rights and Permissions
    905 W. Main Street
    Suite 18B
    Durham, NC 27701

    For all requests please include:
    1. Author's name. If book has an editor that is different from the article author, include editor's name also.
    2. Title of the journal article or book chapter and title of journal or title of book
    3. Page numbers (if excerpting, provide specifics)
    For coursepacks, please also note: The number of copies requested, the school and professor requesting
    For reprints and subsidiary rights, please also note: Your volume title, publication date, publisher, print run, page count, rights sought
  • Description

    Until now, the notion of a cross-cultural dialogue has not figured in the analysis of harem paintings, largely because the Western fantasy of the harem has been seen as the archetype for Western appropriation of the Orient. In Intimate Outsiders, the art historian Mary Roberts brings to light a body of harem imagery that was created through a dynamic process of cultural exchange. Roberts focuses on images produced by nineteenth-century European artists and writers who were granted access to harems in the urban centers of Istanbul and Cairo. As invited guests, these Europeans were “intimate outsiders” within the women’s quarters of elite Ottoman households. At the same time, elite Ottoman women were offered intimate access to European culture through their contact with these foreign travelers.

    Roberts draws on a range of sources, including paintings, photographs, and travelogues discovered in archives in Britain, Turkey, Egypt, and Denmark. She rethinks the influential harem works of the realist painter John Frederick Lewis, a British artist living in Cairo during the 1840s, whose works were granted an authoritative status by his British public despite the actual limits of his insider knowledge. Unlike Lewis, British women were able to visit Ottoman harems, and from the mid-nineteenth century on they did so in droves. Writing about their experiences in published travelogues, they undermined the idea that harems were the subject only of male fantasies. The elite Ottoman women who orchestrated these visits often challenged their guests’ misapprehensions about harem life, and a number of them exercised power as patrons, commissioning portraits from European artists. Their roles as art patrons defy the Western idea of the harem woman as passive odalisque.

    About The Author(s)

    Mary Roberts is the John Schaeffer Associate Professor in British Art at the University of Sydney. She is a coeditor of Orientalism’s Interlocutors: Painting, Architecture, Photography, also published by Duke University Press.

Explore More
Share

Create a reading list or add to an existing list. Sign-in or register now to continue.


Contact Us

  • Duke University Press
  • 905 W. Main St. Ste 18-B
  • Durham, NC 27701
  • U.S. phone (toll-free): 888-651-0122
  • International: 1-919-688-5134
  • orders@dukeupress.edu