80 407 Images of Egypt


This elective course is integral to, and a mandatory part of, OCCAS studio: Egypt.

Recommended prerequisite knowledge

Interest in scholarly, theoretical and historical reflection on architecture and visual material.

Course content

Ancient Egypt has kept its spell on the European mind across centuries. After the French-British battle of dominance of the area since the late eighteenth century, followed by the massive relocation of Egyptian antiquities to European museums, the interest has but increased. For two centuries, Egyptian imagery has echoed in European architecture, art, design, fashion and fiction. This seminar looks into images of Egypt as represented in world exhibitions and popular culture in the nineteenth and twentieth century. We will watch a number of movies, read novels, dig into the illustrated press, and follow depictions of Egypt – factual and fictitious – across media.

Debates on orientalism and myths will provide the theoretical framework for our work on images, as addressed in political science, comparative literature and exhibition studies since the 1970.

‘Images of Egypt’ pertains to the OCCAS studio: Egypt, run as part of OCCAS’ new, international research project Printing the Past (PriArc), part of the EU research program ”Uses of the Past”.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge: The students will gain insights into debates on orientalism, cultural geopolitics, visual analysis, as well as fiction.

Skills: The seminar will give training in academic thinking and practice, and how to work with historical and contemporary sources, objects, and documents in many media.

General Competence: Readings and seminars will provide the students with insight into political, cultural, and anthropological perspectives on Egypt and the orient. In a broader sense, it will enable students to deal with visual material in a critical manner. Furthermore, the course will equip students with academic reasoning skills as well as abilities to present arguments in oral, visual, and written forms.

Working and learning activities

We will discuss texts and visual material on a weekly basis. Occasionally we will invite national and international scholars to give talks on various aspects of the seminar.

Professor in charge

Mari Lending


Assessment Date Duration Grade scale Oral examination
Rapport Individual Pass / Fail

Each student will hand in a well-illustrated essay for assessment and give a presentation of the selected theme with emphasize on the selected visual material. The essay and the presentation will be examined by two external censors.

Reading lists / teaching materials

Recommended reading:


Amale Andraos and Nora Akawi (eds.), The Arab City: Architecture and Representation (NY: Columbia Books on Architecture and the City, 2016) (excerpts)

Yasmine el Rashidi, Chronicles of a Last Summer. A novel of Egypt (NY: Tim Duggan Books, 2016).

Lucia Allais, “The Salvage of Abu Simbel,” Grey Room (winter, 2004).

Mary Beard, “Cleopatra: The Myth” The New York Review of Books, January 13, 2011 and “Cleopatra. From History to Myth,” London Review of Books, March, 2003).

Zeynep Çelik, Displaying the Orient: Architecture of Islam at Nineteenth-Century World's Fairs (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992). (excerpts)

Timothy Mitchell, Colonising Egypt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988). (excerpts)

Edward Said, Orientalism (Pantheon Books, 1978). (excerpts)

Naguib Mahfouz, The Cairo Trilogy (1956-57). (excerpts)

Lawrence Durrell, The Alexandria Quartet (1957–1960). (excerpts)

Gustav Flaubert, Salammbô (1862)

Various images/articles from nineteenth and twentieth century illustrated journals.

A number of classical Hollywood movies on Egypt + the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar!