Date of Graduation

Summer 2015


Master of Arts in English



Committee Chair

James Baumlin


This thesis explores the Orientalist discourse in four of Edgar Allan Poe's poems and two of his prose essays. The major aspects of Orientalism examined in Poe's works rely on the theoretical ideas of Edward Said's Orientalism and other ideas developed by important Arab writers. Said and other Arab writers agree that Islam is the locus of any study of Orientalism. This thesis focuses on the major role of Oriental imagery that it plays in Poe's early poems. It also examines two of his prose essays to help understand central aspects of Poe's orientalia which are also reflected in his poems. The thesis centers on the elements of Oriental exoticism, Qur'anic imagery, Middle Eastern geography, ancient cities, local traditions, and intertextual relationships. The body of the thesis is mainly made up of three parts. The first part gives a brief survey of the definition of Orientalism and the role it played in the relationship between the West and the East throughout history. The second part throws light on the Orientalist reading of Edgar Allan Poe's two essays "Review of Stephen's Arabia Petraea" and "Palaestine" and his three poems: Israfel, To Helen, and The Doomed City. The third part extensively explores Poe's abstruse poem Al-Aaraaf throughout the lense of the theory of Orientalism.


Edward Said, Travis Montgomery, Edgar Allan Poe, Jeffrey Einboden, Orientalism, Islamicism, Middle Eastern literature, literary borrowings, anti-traditionalism

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature


© Sohaib Kamal Al-Kamal

Open Access