Domesticating the Orient

in Visualizing American Empire

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780226075334
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226075303 | DOI:
Domesticating the Orient

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This chapter focuses on a popular American arts magazine from the turn of the century, the Art Amateur. The magazine, which is representative of how the conception of the ideal, domestic space was often designed using fantasies of the representational Other, or Oriental, used racially motivated images to sell a commodified aesthetic to a middle-class audience. Before looking in detail at the pages of Art Amateur, the chapter explores the life of Edward Morse, a scientist turned art scholar who published widely on Asian art and design. The magazine and Morse made the Orient accessible to thousands of readers who could not experience Asia firsthand. Additionally, Art Amateur's pages began to show an interest in America's movement toward empire in the late 1890s, and the Colonial Revival and its place in relation to imperial fantasies are examined. These early forms of nineteenth-century Orientalism were fantastic and based not on a purely imperialist impulse, but rather on a desire to collect, curate, and domesticate objects from places Americans defined as exotic.

Keywords: arts magazine; domestic space; Oriental; Edward Morse; Asia; American empire; Colonial Revival; Orientalism

Chapter.  10001 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Colonialism and Imperialism

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