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Julia Wurr

Julia Wurr
Address IRTG Diversity
University of Trier
DM 246
Phone +49 651 201-3327
E-Mail wurr@uni-trier.de


From Tahrir to Terror: (Neo-)Orientalism in European and North American Fiction since the ‘Arab Spring’ (2011-2016)

(Supervisors: Wolfgang Klooß, Trier / Frauke Matthes, Edinburgh)

At a time when there is hardly a discourse more virulent than that of the alleged clash of civilisations between ‘East’ and ‘West’, my PhD project aims at investigating the current state of Orientalism in recent European and North American fiction. By analysing English-, French- and German-speaking novels depicting the so-called ‘Arab Spring’, Islamist terrorism and fictional Muslim takeovers of Western countries, I wish to retrace the literary (re?)framing of ‘Oriental’ spaces since 2011.

While at least for a short period, intellectuals such as Slavoj Žižek or Hamid Dabashi hailed the ‘Arab Spring’ as a chance to override fossilised dichotomies, no such post-Oriental paradigm shift has manifested in the literary realm. Rather than creating new spaces of solidarity, narrative strategies – even when ironising – tend to rely on stereotypes regarding ‘the Arab’s’ alleged affect-driven behaviour, propensity for violence, lust, backwardness, passivity, and inability to establish democracy or rule of law. Furthermore, the binary of security vs. threat has recently regained momentum up to a point of bringing into prominence a genre which we might call Islamodystopia.

By means of a transnationalist synchronic close reading and by drawing on the social constructivist concept of securitisation, I will examine how configurations of (Orientalist) stereotypes and subversive tropes frame literary projections of those developments regarding the Middle East most widely received in Western mass media. By thus identifying both processes of cultural othering and cosmopolitan inclusion, I hope to shed some light on the increasing securitisation of Arabs and Muslims and to answer the question of how Western fiction with an ‘Eastern’ sujet negotiates, condensates and narrativises the (de)construction of diversity.

Current Activities

8th -10th November 2017
Presentation "Literary Perspectives on the 'Arab Spring': A Post-Orientalist Window of Opportunity?"
Dialogues interculturels à l’époque coloniale et postcoloniale. Représentations littéraires et culturelles – Orient, Maghreb et Afrique occidentale (de 1830 à nos jours), 8-10/11/2017, Deutsches Historisches Institut, Paris, France


Oct. 2007 - July 2015
Studies of English Literature and Linguistics, French Literature and International Relations, University of Trier, Germany: Magistra Artium (M.A.): 1.0 with distinction
Oct. 2011 - July 2012
Graduate visiting student, Oxford University, Great Britain: Translation Studies
Feb. - July 2010
Integrated semester abroad (Erasmus grant), University of Liège, Belgium

Work Experience

Instructor of graduate seminar: "Orientalism and the Anglophone Post-'Arab Spring' Novel", University of Trier, Germany
2016, 2015, 2013, 2011
Teaching assistant, University of Trier, Germany, Chair for English and American Literature
Aug. - Oct. 2013
Intern, Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin, Germany, Editorial office for International Literature
Oct. 2012 - March 2013
Research assistant, University of Trier, Germany, Chair for English and American Literature
July 2012
Intern, Routledge, Abingdon, Great Britain, Editorial office for Language Learning and Linguistics
Dec. 2010 - Sept. 2013
Research assistant, University of Trier, Germany, Junior Professorship of Political Science/International Relations
Sept - Dec 2010
Intern, Goethe-Institut Brussels, Belgium, Cultural Programme

Awards and Fellowships

March - May 2015
Scholarship of Excellence Programme, State of Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany: Funding of Master’s thesis
Oct. 2011 - July 2012
Full scholarship awarded by Jesus College for one academic year at Oxford University, Great Britain


"Wettrüsten in Asien? Die Modernisierung der chinesischen Streitkräfte und die Reaktionen regionaler Großmächte. Ein Bericht über die Trierer China-Gespräche 2011", Zeitschrift für Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik 4, 751-5.
"Trierer China-Gespräche: Wettrüsten in Asien? Die Modernisierung der chinesischen Streitkräfte und die Reaktionen regionaler Großmächte", Asien 121, 82-4.

Conference Presentations

July 2017
Translating Fear and Alterity: Neo-Orientalist Poetics of In_Security in Post-'Arab Spring' Fiction
Translating Fear – 10th Colloquium on Translation Studies in Portugal, Lisbon, Portugal, 20-21/07/2017.
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