Edward Said (November 1, 1935- September 24th, 2003)
by Madeline Schaeffer
Edward Said was a public intellectual, political activist, and literary critic. Born in Mandatory Palestine, Said became a citizen of the United States due to his father being a U.S. Army veteran. He examined literature in light of social and cultural politics, and was an outspoken proponent of the political rights of the Palestinian people and the creation of an independent Palestinian state. He was also one of the foundational thinkers in the academic field of postcolonial studies.
In his later education, Said attended Princeton University and Harvard University, where he specialized in English literature. He joined Columbia University as a professor in English in 1963 and in 1967, and was promoted to assistant professor of English and comparative literature. His first book, Joseph Conrad and the Fiction of Autobiography, was published in 1966 as an expansion of his thesis. He also published Orientalism in 1978 — his best-known work. In it, Said examined Western meaning of the “Orient,” specifically of the Arab Islamic world. He argued that early Westerners in that region were biased, and projected a false and stereotyped vision of “otherness” that facilitated and supported Western colonial policy. Orientalism transformed discussions among researchers in literary theory, literary criticism, and Middle-Eastern studies. Said was also a member of the Palestinian National Council, controversial due to his public criticism of Israel and the Arab countries. He advocated for the establishment of a Palestinian state to ensure equal political and human rights for the Palestinians in Israel.
In addition to his political and academic pursuits, Said was an accomplished musician and pianist. He co-founded the West–Eastern Divan Orchestra, and co-authored the 2002 book Parallels and Paradoxes: Explorations in Music and Society, with his friend, Daniel Barenboim. Said passed away in 2003 at 67.
Said, Edward W., et al. The Selected Works of Edward Said, 1966-2006 . Second Vintage Books edition., Vintage Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, 2019.
Said, Edward W. Orientalism. New York: Pantheon Books, 1978.
Said, Edward W. Peace and Its Discontents: Essays on Palestine in the Middle East Peace Process. Vintage Books. 1996.
Hart, William D. (2000). "Preliminary remarks". Edward Said and the Religious Effects of Culture. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 21 March 2021;
McCarthy, Conor (2010). The Cambridge Introduction to Edward Said. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 22 March 2021.