In this cultural history of Americans' engagement with Islam in the colonial and antebellum period, Timothy Marr analyzes the historical roots of how the Muslim world figured in American prophecy, politics, reform, fiction, art and dress. Marr argues that perceptions of the Muslim world, long viewed not only as both an anti-Christian and despotic threat but also as an exotic other, held a larger place in domestic American concerns than previously thought. Historical, literary, and imagined encounters with Muslim history and practices provided a backdrop where different Americans oriented the direction of their national project, the morality of the social institutions, and the contours of their romantic imaginations. This history sits as an important background to help understand present conflicts between the Muslim world and the United States.
Timothy Marr is Assistant Professor in the Curriculum in American Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill where he teaches seminars on such topics as cultural memory, captivity, tobacco, birth and death, and mating and marriage. He became interested in the subject of this book while teaching Herman Melville's Moby-Dick at Lahore American School in Pakistan in the late 1980s. He is the co-editor of Ungraspable Phantom: Essays on Moby-Dick.
Introduction: imagining Ishmael: introducing American Islamicism; 1. Islamicism and counterdespotism in early national cultural expression; 2. 'Drying up the Euphrates': Muslims, millennialism, and early American missionary enterprise; 3. Antebellum Islamicism and the transnational crusade of antislavery and temperance reform; 4. 'Turkey is in our midst': Mormonism as an American 'Islam'; 5. American Ishmael: Herman Melville's literary Islamicism; Conclusion: American Howadjis: the gendered pageantry of mid-nineteenth-century Islamicism.