Date of Award

Spring 2013

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Studies: Middle Eastern Studies

First Advisor

Zayde Antrim


Recent scholarship has focused on the influence of cultural works, such as books and films, on American perspectives of the Middle East after the Second World War, but not as much attention has been given to their influence during the nineteenth century. The nineteenth century saw the development of American ties to the Orient through missionary activity, tourism and the publication of a number of travel books on the Orient. This thesis examines the way Arabs, Islam, and the Holy Land were depicted by Mark Twain in his 1869 book The Innocents Abroad, one of the most widely read books on the Orient in nineteenth-century America. The first chapter of this thesis gives a broad overview of American perspectives on the Orient before 1867, the time of Twain’s trip to Palestine. The second chapter consists of a close reading of the Holy Land pilgrimage section of Innocents Abroad. In this section it is shown how differences in class and region, as well as the growing culture of materialism led to a devaluation of Palestine and a negative portrayal of its people. Through its analysis of Innocents Abroad, this thesis shows the multiple factors that shaped nineteenth-century American perspectives on the Orient.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in International Studies.