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Title: Edward W. Said : resistance, knowledge, criticism
Author: Taylor, Mark A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5993 6938
Awarding Body: Loughborough University
Current Institution: Loughborough University
Date of Award: 2016
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The prodigious output of the controversial Palestinian-American public intellectual, academic, and political activist Edward W. Said (1935-2003), continues to polarize the academic, intellectual, and political worlds, not least because of the inflammatory nature of his relationship to the vexed issue of Israel/Palestine. It is a contention of this thesis that this polarization has resulted in what are often less than critical examinations of Said's work. In short, because Said and his work remain relevant and influential, a new method of reading is required, one which not only takes account of Said's secular, 'worldly' approach to the issue of knowledge and its production, but applies the same rigour and method to the Palestinian's work in all its literary-critical, political, and personal varieties. This thesis attempts to meet that aim by testing Said's oeuvre within the rubric of his stated ambition to create a critical location from which the production of 'non-coercive' knowledge was attainable. In the context of his opposition to political Zionism and wider Western imperialism, whether Said produced, or even intended to produce knowledge that was 'non-coercive' is an extremely important question, and one that will be answered in this thesis. Formed by an introduction and three main chapters, the scope of this thesis is broad. Following an exposition of the biographical 'facts' of Said's life, Chapter One engages his late work, Out of Place. Ostensibly a memoir, Out of Place is subjected to the discipline of Said's own critical concept of 'worldliness' and placed within the much broader context of the author's oeuvre. From this location it is possible to see the memoir as one of a number of narratives competing in the political sphere. Chapter Two deals with the issue of Said's relationship to some of the key thinkers and schools of thought that seemed to inform his work, questioning whether Said resisted inculcation in powerful concepts like humanism, structuralism, post-structuralism, and Marxism or, in fact, permitted these influences to disrupt his desired critical location of homelessness. The final part of the thesis engages with Said's secular, provisional approach to knowledge. First, weaving through the tautly balanced concepts of beginnings and origins in Beginnings: Intention and Method, much of the chapter addresses Said's attack on Western knowledge production in Orientalism, where perversely he produces his own counter-monument to Western colonialism. The chapter ends with a Saidian reading of Said's three principal modes of criticism: secular, contrapuntal, and democratic. The conclusion that emerges from a Saidian,'worldly' reading of Said is perhaps both surprising and, yet, exactly as one might expect. Said was a human being, and human beings are flawed. The first intellectual line out of Said creates a restless critical and philosophical framework with the potential to undermine the second intellectual line out of Said, the political pragmatist always ready to produce coercive knowledge.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available