Edward Said: Culture and Empire
140 East 27th Street
New York, NY 10016
Few contemporary intellectuals have generated enough interest in their work to achieve simultaneous fame and infamy, yet this distinction undoubtedly applies to Edward Said (1935-2003). In the aftermath of his monumental Orientalism (1978) and his outspoken advocacy on behalf of the Palestinian people, Said became a lightning rod within both academic and policy debates about multiculturalism, Euro-American exceptionalism, and the nature of American foreign policy. How did a literary critic who specialized in the English novel become so controversial?
In this class, we will consider Said’s major works and trace their influence on post-colonial studies, political advocacy–including the public discourse about Israel/Palestine–and postmodern notions of the intellectual. We will also look at the figures, from Frantz Fanon to Michel Foucault and Antonio Gramsci, who helped to shape Said’s particular vision of the relationship between knowledge production and colonial power, and explore the method of contrapuntal reading he used to re-inscribe literary works into their imperial context. In addition to Orientalism, we will read selections from The Question of Palestine, Culture and Imperialism, The World, the Text, and the Critic, and Freud and the Non-European. Finally, we will examine Said’s interest in exilic figures like Theodor Adorno and Sigmund Freud and the central role that being “out of place” (the title of Said’s autobiography) plays in his own understanding of the public intellectual.
Course ScheduleWednesday, 6:30-9:30pm
October 18 — November 08, 2017