Monthly Archives: September 2020

Image: Mechanical Bank (225)

mechanical bank n.d. Maker unknown. Image from

(Note on terminology: After struggling with it awhile I opted to use the n-word once in this essay because it is literally part of the name of the object discussed. This single use of the term was placed in quotes to indicate that fact, as well as the fact that I would never use it otherwise.)

The characters and events described by Charles Chesnutt in The Marrow of Tradition give dramatic form to Black people’s experience of racist discrimination and violence during the Nadir of the Negro. Deprived of many civil rights, targeted by lynch mobs, and subjected to daily indignities, African Americans struggled to survive the Nadir as best they were able. 

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Image Assignment: A Journey (303/415)

Richard and Saladin Jousting. Luttrell Psalter ca. 1340. British Library.

I began my project with a clear idea of which image I wanted to discuss: the cover illustration of Amin Maalouf’s The Crusades Through Arab Eyes. The first thing I learned about this image was what I read on the back of the book, where notes about cover art are usually placed. The note informed me that the image was of Saladin and Richard jousting from a 14th century text called the Luttrell Psalter

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West/Rest (303/415)

The discourse of “the West and the Rest” relies on the method of Othering. The construction of the myth of the West depends on its other, the Rest. If the Westerner is defined by attributes such as industriousness and fondness for liberty, for example, then the non-Westerner is necessarily lazy and slavish. 

Here is a quote from Cultural Theory: The Key Concepts:

“[T]he Other [is] a form of cultural projection of concepts. This projection of concepts constructs the identities of cultural subjects through a relationship of power in which the Other is the subjugated element. In claiming knowledge about [non-Westerners] what [the discourse of “the West and the Rest”] did was construct them as its own (Western) Other. Through describing purportedly [non-Western] characteristics (irrational, uncivilized, etc.) [“the West and the Rest”] provided a definition not of the real [non-Western] identity but of the Western identity in terms of the oppositions which structured its account. Hence, irrational Other presupposes rational Self. The construction of the Other in [West/Rest] discourse, then, is a matter of asserting self-identity, and the issue of the Western account of the [non-Western] Other is thereby rendered a question of power” (Edgar and Sedgwick 2002).