When a Book found Professor Etienne

Anushka Juliet on what book Professor Etienne spoke about at Found Book.

Did you find the book or did it find you? Well, for Dr Etienne Rassendren, the Department of English, St. Joseph’s College, it found him (multiple times). The book “Orientalism” by Edward W. Said happened to find him, six times to be exact, and inspired him.

Around 6:30 pm at Aloysius Hall Dr Rassendren set the stage with a simple phrase on his first slide “This book found me”. He first met “Orientalism” when in conversation with a few teachers’ who’d gathered together and with only the first few lines being read out loud, it intrigued him.  The line “The Orient was almost a European invention” sparked the idea of how perception plays a major role in creating the society we see before us, in him.

Dr Rassendren lost his first copy of Orientalism, which his family gifted to him. A recent update says that this copy is in the Czech Republic. He has lost six copies of the book, so far and doesn’t have a copy of his own right now.

The book deals with the idea of “Orientalism” as a way of viewing and normally exaggerating the differences of people and their cultures from the East compared to that of the West. The East is usually seen as an exotic, uncivilized, inferior and dangerous place. This book challenges the stereotype that is being presented, and critiques what others refused to challenge.

“Found Book” ended with Dr. Rassendren recounting an anecdote about three brothers who get split up at birth but unite when they are adults.  He hopes to reunite with his books in the same way someday. Dr. Rassendren is planning to buy a copy, who knows maybe seventh time’s the charm.

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Anushka Juliet

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