Maya Mau's (ILR, '24) article "'Orientalism' in the Alhambra: Examining Western perceptions of the Alhambra and the Fountain in the Court of the Lions" will be published this Spring in Esferas, NYU's Department of Spanish & Portuguese undergraduate journal. In this piece, Mau "considers the impact of 'Orientalism' on scholarly understanding of the Alhambra, and specifically the fountain in the Court of Lions." She "proposes that 'Orientalism' has obstructed, without preventing, scholars from studying the Alhambra’s history, artwork, and poetry in the context of the culture in which it was produced."
Mau first wrote this essay in her Fall '21 First-Year Writing Seminar -- ART HISTORY 1132: Seeing, Reading, and Writing the Alhambra with Professor Cynthia Robinson. Here is the course description:
This course is centered on Granada’s Alhambra, built, for the most part, during the middle decades of the fourteenth century A.D. Both the most complete surviving medieval Islamic palace and the most popular tourist destination in Spain, throughout the more-than-six centuries of its existence, the Alhambra has inspired admiration and interpretation, this latter being influenced by intellectual trends and cultural currents as varied as Romanticism, positivism, Orientalism, post-structuralism, post-colonial theory, and literature for tourists—it was even the setting for Washington Irving’s famed Tales of the Alhambra. In this class, students will learn to view and to write about the Alhambra through the lenses offered by these various movements and currents, as well as through the eyes of its contemporary audience, the fourteenth-century poets, courtiers, kings, mystics, and the occasional Christian ally who frequented its beautifully ornamented halls and patios.
Mau recalls selecting this FWS "on a whim during add/drop." As a sophomore transfer, she explains, "I needed to fill the requirement and I had never taken a college-level course in Art History."
Although she did not have much prior knowledge about or experience with Art History, Spain, or Islamic style, Mau found, "with Professor Robinson's mentorship and guidance, I grew more as a researcher and a writer," and "I was able to apply my interests–in historiography and East-West relations– to the topics we discussed in class."
In reflecting on the First-Year Writing Seminar program more generally, Mau notes: "The wide variety of topics available for FWS classes is one of the program's greatest assets, and the opportunity to work on my writing while learning more from one of the leading scholars on the Alhambra was a fantastic way to start my academic journey at Cornell."
Here is more about Maya Mau from her autobiographical statement: I am from New York City and transferred from McGill University. I am in the Class of 2024 in the ILR School with minors in Business, Information Science, and Law & Society. On campus, I'm involved in Social Business Consulting, the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies as a Media Archivist, and the Law School as a research assistant. My article “Inequity in American Elections: Racism in the United States Electoral College System” was published in the 2021 edition of The Pre-Law Review: Journal of the McGill Pre-Law Students’ Society (https://issuu.com/mcgillprelaw/docs/pre-law_review_2021/24). Next year, I'll be the Editor-in-Chief of The Workplace Review, the undergraduate student journal dedicated to workplace studies.