The Ancient Middle East in Nineteenth-Century Popular Culture: The Creation of Moral Geographies through World’s Fairs, Operas, Design, and Mummy Stories

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  Wednesday, February 26, 2020
  5 - 6:30 p.m.
  340 Stephens Hall
  Kevin McGeough, University of Lethbridge

The emergence of European and North American archaeological explorations of the Middle East was coincident with an explosion of new Victorian media forms. The ancient Middle East was represented in many of these media forms - in periodicals, novels, panoramas, theatres, expositions, and even the rituals of secret societies. Thinking about the Middle East inspired authors like H. Rider Haggard and designers like Owen Jones and their representations of the region in popular culture have had long-standing impact on the way that the ancient (and contemporary) Middle East is thought of both by scholars and the general public. Scholarly research and popular representations were entangled with one another, reifying and normalizing values and ideologies from different sectors of public thinking. This presentation will explore a variety of these diverse popular culture forms (fiction, periodical reporting, world’s fairs, plays and operas, music, design, and the rituals of secret societies) and show how many of these modes of thinking about the ancient Middle East continue to influence public perceptions and scholarly research today.

Kevin M. McGeough is Professor of Archaeology at the University of Lethbridge and holds a Board of Governor’s Research Chair in Archaeological Theory and Reception. He is the author of a three-volume work entitled The Ancient Near East in the Nineteenth Century and has a forthcoming work on film called From Griffith to Grindhouse: Representations of the Ancient World in Film. He is also the American Schools of Oriental Research’s Chair of the Publications Committee, where he oversees the publication of several academic series and is designing the organization’s new digital publication strategies.

This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Near Eastern Studies, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology, and the Archaeological Research Facility.

Center for Middle Eastern Studies
University of California, Berkeley
340 Stephens Hall, Berkeley, CA  94720-2314



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