Through the Looking Glass: Themes in Narratives by Arabs, Americans, and Europeans from 1890 to 1960
Written for HIST 436: U.S. in the Middle East, Dr. Nathan Citino and Dr. Ussama S. Makdisi
As relations between the United States and the countries of the Middle East evolved from the arrival of Protestant missionaries in 19th-century Jerusalem to the imperialist presence of American oil companies in Saudi Arabia in the 1950s, travel narratives written about America and the Middle East also evolved. This article documents the changes and continuities over time that occur in these narratives while also taking into account similar narratives from European sources that provide context for these changes and continuities. From 1890 to 1960, travel narratives written by American and European authors grew to reflect more clearly the stark imbalance of power in favor of countries with imperialist ambitions in the Middle East. At the same time, travel narratives about America written by individuals from the Middle East increasingly tried to fight this imbalance through their depictions of East and West.