The thesis examines the historical emergence of modes of perception,
interpretation and evaluation within Western European nations of what has
been termed Arab Islamic culture. It is argued that the West perceives Arab
Islamic East as "Other" or "Them", but that the content of this "Otherness"
shifts over time according to a range of historical, political, cultural and
The two central themes that emerge within these modes of interpretation are
termed "Romanticism" and "Negativity/Hostility". The manifestation of these
two themes is traced from antiquity to the modern age. The thesis
demonstrates the continuities, shifts and transformations of these two themes
throughout the history of European engagements with the Arab Islamic East.
In addition to a comprehensive survey of Western literary and cultural
interpretations of the Arab Islamic East, the study provides a content analysis
of the presentation of Arab Islamic acts and events on the world stage in six
modern Western newspapers. The content analysis and its evaluation are
both quantitative and qualitative. The findings of the content analysis
confirm much of the theoretical work of the earlier chapters.
The central finding of this thesis is the gradual erosion of an earlier
"Romanticist" interpretation and its increasing replacement by forms of
interpretations summarised by the term "Negativity/Hostility". This process is
not considered to be irreversible and the thesis hopes to contribute to more
adequate, comprehensive and empathetic evaluations and relations between
East and West.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy at Loughborough University.