Lawrence of Arabia: Romantic, Orientalist & Western Cultural Artefact I Dr Neil Faulkner I Dec 2018

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T E Lawrence played a central role in the outcome of the First World War in the Middle East. His own testimony in his famous war memoir Seven Pillars of Wisdom has now been ground-truthed by a ten-year archaeological field project. This provides a firmer base for examining his character, achievements, celebrity status, and endless cultural reconfiguration over the last century. These matters remain highly problematic, since Lawrence himself was both a Romantic and an Orientalist, and the many biographers, dramatists, and commentators who have contributed to his enduring fame have used his story to ‘imagine’ the Middle East in specifically Western ways. For a century, the evolving legend of ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ has reflected a distorted Western perspective on the region, its people, and its conflicts. This lecture will attempt to critique both T E Lawrence the historical actor and ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ the cultural construct as products of Western imperialism.

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