100 Years of The Sheik: A Public Research Symposium

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detail from cover of The Sheik

A free-to-attend public symposium on the centenary of E. M. Hull’s infamous desert romance, The Sheik. Featuring an author panel, a screening of the original film, and more. 

Since its publication in 1919, E. M. Hull’s The Sheik has been a sensation, shocking and fascinating readers alike. Owing much to the literary traditions of Romantic Orientalism and golden-age women’s travel writing, as well as to literary modernism and the crisis of masculinity in British culture in the aftermath of World War One, it is a novel that articulates the tensions and desires of its time. Contemporary critics regarded it as salacious and degenerate, yet its cultural legacy in Britain and North America has been significant and enduring. One hundred years on and The Sheik is considered “the ur-romance novel of the twentieth century” (Pamela Regis), while its treatment of gender, sexuality, and race continues to trouble and provoke debate.

We are marking 100 years since the original publication of The Sheik with a special symposium, open to the public, at the University of Birmingham on 12 and 13 September on the novel and its legacy. Featuring:

  • A panel of new academic research on The Sheik
  • A graduate seminar on reading and working with popular genres, using The Sheik as a case study
  • An author panel on diversity in romance publishing
  • A rare screening of the 1921 film adaptation of The Sheik starring Rudolph Valentino (at the MAC Birmingham, tickets sold separately)
  • A panel on learning and teaching The Sheik featuring lecturers and students

We warmly invite anyone interested in romance, Orientalism, women’s writing, and popular fiction to join us for what we hope will be a fascinating event.

Tickets and more information are available on the University of Birmingham website.

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