We live in an age in which mass media representations of the Middle East have done much to influence Western attitudes toward the region’s peoples and cultures. Similarly, Middle Easterners’ views of the West have also been affected. That these representations have so consistently advanced disparaging stereotypes has resulted in an unfortunate legacy of cultural misunderstanding that demands investigation and redress. The literary arts, from the Middle Ages to Modernity have all too often represented cultural differences in ways that have aided in the construction and/or perpetuation of an antagonistic East/West divide. While the exploration of this divide has been valuable, what is now needed is an exploration of how literature has also engaged in productively complex, nuanced intercultural dialogues that complicate, fracture, and ultimately widen the narrow lens used to frame the relationships between East and West. The conference, Widening the Lens: Beyond the Orient and Occident in Narrative Perspectives of the East and West, seeks to explore how the dialogue between literatures of the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and North America approach, inspire, challenge, and ultimately benefit each other. In other words, this conference intends to consider that literature can help correct the divisions caused by entrenched cultural stereotypes, and that this help can take a myriad of forms.