How do national stereotypes emerge? To which extent are they determined by historical or ideological circumstances, or else by cultural, literary or discursive conventions? This first inclusive critical compendium on national characterizations and national (cultural or ethnic) stereotypes contains 120 articles by 73 contributors. Its three parts offer  a number of in-depth survey articles on ethnic and national images in European literatures and cultures over many centuries;  an encyclopedic survey of the stereotypes and characterizations traditionally ascribed to various ethnicities and nationalities; and  a conspectus of relevant concepts in various cultural fields and scholarly disciplines. The volume as a whole, as well as each of the articles, has extensive bibliographies for further critical reading.
Imagologyis intended both for students and for senior scholars, facilitating not only a first acquaintance with the historical development, typology and poetics of national stereotypes, but also a deepening of our understanding and analytical perspective by interdisciplinary and comparative contextualization and extensive cross-referencing.
Since the late 18th century, when they first entered into an alliance during the American Revolution, the French and Americans have had a long and sometimes stormy relationship based on a complex mix of mutual admiration, cultural criticism, and sometimes downright disgust for the “other.” The relatively new interdisciplinary field of imagology, or image studies, allows us to place the dynamics of such a relationship into perspective by grounding its analysis firmly in the study of national stereotypes, in the process providing new insights into the mentality of the observer. For if anything, image studies demonstrate again and again that national character is not–as assumed uncritically for centuries–an innate essence of the “other”, but rather a self-serving functional construct of the observer.