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Said’s life and work will be discussed Thursday

The writings of Dr. Edward W. Said, one of the world’s great public intellectuals, will be discussed and debated at a commemorative conference held at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 23, at the Lehigh's Sinclair Auditorium.

The talk, which is sponsored by the Humanities Center, is free and open to the public.

At the conference, Said’s considerable achievements will be debated by Rob Rozehnal, assistant professor of religion studies; Gordon Bearn, the W.W. Selfridge Professor of Philosophy and director of the Humanities Center; and Amardeep Singh, assistant professor of English.

“Edward Said was a true polymath: a literary theorist, an expert of classical music, a Palestinian activist, and a cultural critic,” Rozehnal says. “As the consummate public intellectual and global citizen, Said's impact was as controversial as it was influential. On the anniversary of his death, this symposium is meant to offer a reflection on Said's life and legacy.”

Said, who died one year ago at the age of 67, was internationally known and revered as an influential literary theorist and a path-breaking scholar whose contributions touched nearly every field of intellectual endeavor, and who helped transform the humanities and social sciences. Over the course of a long and productive career as a professor of comparative literature at Columbia University, he authored several widely discussed books.

Among the best-known and considered the most influential of his works was the 1978 book, Orientalism, which interwove his scholarly position with his political views and provided the theoretical language associated with post-colonial studies. In the book, Said laid out a vision of history in which the power to define others is linked with the political power to dominate.

But it was Said’s work as an advocate of the Palestinian cause and as a member of the exiled Palestinian National Congress that brought him perhaps the most notoriety and controversy. His writings on the plight of the Palestinians and his work as an activist enraged critics, and caused him to be the target of both personal and professional attacks.

Born in Jerusalem in 1935, he spent most of his life in the United States. He received degrees from Princeton and Harvard before going to Columbia, where he spent most of his adult life. His many books have been translated into 36 languages.

For more information, please contact Susan Shell at (610) 758-4649.

Posted on Tuesday, September 21, 2004

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