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The Legacy of Edward W. Said

William V. Spanos

Publication Year: 2008

With the untimely death of Edward W. Said in 2003, various academic and public intellectuals worldwide have begun to reassess the writings of this powerful oppositional intellectual. Figures on the neoconservative right have already begun to discredit Saids work as that of a subversive intent on slandering Americas benign global image and undermining its global authority. On the left, a significant number of oppositional intellectuals are eager to counter this neoconservative vilification, proffering a Said who, in marked opposition to the anti-humanism? of the great poststructuralist thinkers who were his contemporaries--Jacques Derrida, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Jacques Lacan, Louis Althusser, and Michel Foucault--reaffirms humanism and thus rejects poststructuralist theory._x000B__x000B_In this provocative assessment of Edward Saids lifework, William V. Spanos argues that Saids lifelong anti-imperialist project is actually a fulfillment of the revolutionary possibilities of poststructuralist theory. Spanos examines Said, his legacy, and the various texts he wrote--including Orientalism, Culture and Imperialism, and Humanism and Democratic Criticism--that are now being considered for their lasting political impact.

Published by: University of Illinois Press


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Title Page

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p. iii

Copyright Page

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p. iv

Table of Contents

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p. vii

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pp. ix-xii

As the last chapter, “Edward Said’s Mount Hermon and Mine,” will make amply clear, this book on Said’s legacy had, in some complex and indefinable way, its origins long ago, in 1951, when, after a year at Columbia University, I came to Mount Hermon, a prep school in Bernardston, Massachusetts, to begin my errant teaching career. It was also the year when the fifteen-year-old...

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1. Edward W. Said and the Poststructuralists: An Introduction

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pp. 1-25

With the untimely death of Edward W. Said in 2003 various constituencies of the academic and public intellectual community, both in the United States and abroad, have begun to reassess the writings of this powerful contemporary oppositional intellectual, seeking to determine the nature of his legacy. On the right, the Straussian neoconservatives, who have exerted inordinate...

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2. Heidegger, Foucault, and the "Empire of the Gaze": Thinking and Territorialization of Knowledge

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pp. 26-69

As I observed in the previous chapter, the difficult question of the relationship between Edward Said, above all, his critique of Orientalism, and the poststructuralists, particularly Michel Foucault, depends on which of the several Foucaults one invokes. Following a certain antipoststructuralist emphasis in Said’s work after Orientalism, recent “secular” and often postcolonial...

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3. Orientalism: Foucault, Genealogy, History

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pp. 70-110

As I observed in the previous chapter, the Michel Foucault who influenced Said in framing the question Orientalism poses about Western knowledge production is the Foucault not of Said’s Beginnings—Foucault the archaeologist/ structuralist—but the Foucault of Surveiller et punir. More specifically, it was the Foucault not of Folie et déraison (1961; Madness and Civilization),...

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4. Culture and Imperialism: The Specter of Empire

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pp. 111-150

Strangely, Edward Said’s magisterial book Culture and Imperialism has not received even remotely the kind of attention that Orientalism has had ever since its publication in 1978. This is in part, no doubt, because Orientalism was a groundbreaking book that, in its powerful de-struction of the Occident’s polyvalent truth discourse about the Orient, rendered it no longer possible for...

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5. Edward Said's Humanism and American Exceptionalism after 9/11/01: An Interrogation

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pp. 151-196

Edward Said’s posthumously published Humanism and Democratic Criticism is a deeply problematic book. Whatever his intention (was it to underscore his legacy in the face of his imminent death or simply another “raid on the inarticulate / With shabby equipment always deteriorating / In the general mess of imprecision of feeling”?),1 it will be and indeed seems already to have...

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6. Edward Said's Mount Hermon and Mine: A Forwarding Remembrance and a Coda

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pp. 197-232

If I remember correctly, my first more or less direct contact with Edward Said came about when I wrote to ask him for a contribution to a symposium on postmodernism, the inaugural issue of boundary 2, the “journal of postmodern literature” that my friend, the novelist Robert Kroetsch, and I had imagined into being during the harrowing year I spent as a Fulbright...


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pp. 233-265


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pp. 267-274

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780252092459
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252033889

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2008

OCLC Number: 811409146
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Legacy of Edward W. Said

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Said, Edward W. -- Influence.
  • Said, Edward W. -- Political and social views.
  • Mount Hermon School.
  • Philosophy, Modern -- 20th century.
  • Poststructuralism.
  • Orientalism.
  • Humanism.
  • Imperialism.
  • Politics and culture.
  • United States -- Foreign relations -- Philosophy.
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