“Sex, Lies, and Paradise”: A talk by Geraldine Heng 11/05/12
Sex, Lies, and Paradise:
The Assassins, Prester John, and the Fabulation of Civilizational Identities
The Assassins of Alamut are presented in popular media and academic studies as the 11th century forerunners of today’s “suicide terrorists.” Visiting Winton Professor Geraldine Heng analyzes these stories to see how the Assassins were believed to anticipate an Islamic paradise in the afterlife and came to represent for the West a volatile nexus of sex and violence. Heng examines in particular how two popular, widely circulating European texts—Marco Polo’s Travels and Mandeville’s Travels—were key in shaping Western understanding of Islamic history in terms of a civilizational identity that “clashes” with that of the Christian West. Cosponsored by College of Liberal Arts, French & Italian.