EVENT Jan 09
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Edward Said's legacy in the context of current events

New Orleans
Organization: Modern Language Association
Categories: Postcolonial, American, Hispanic & Latino, Comparative, Interdisciplinary, British, Genre & Form, Popular Culture, Gender & Sexuality, Literary Theory, Women's Studies, World Literatures, African-American, Colonial, Revolution & Early National, Transcendentalists, 1865-1914, 20th & 21st Century, Medieval, Early Modern & Renaissance, Long 18th Century, Romantics, Victorian, 20th & 21st Century, Adventure & Travel Writing, Children's Literature, Comics & Graphic Novels, Drama, Narratology, Poetry, Aesthetics, Anthropology/Sociology, Classical Studies, Cultural Studies, Environmental Studies, Film, TV, & Media, Food Studies, History, Philosophy, African & African Diasporas, Asian & Asian Diasporas, Australian Literature, Canadian Literature, Caribbean & Caribbean Diasporas, Indian Subcontinent, Eastern European, Mediterranean, Middle East, Native American, Scandinavian, Pacific Literature, Miscellaneous
Event Date: 2025-01-09 Abstract Due: 2024-03-15


Call for Papers: Edited Volume; MLA 2025 conference special session

Topic: Edward Said’s legacy in the context of current events


Twenty years after his death and fifty years after the publication of Orientalism, Edward Said, the best-known Palestinian American public intellectual, seems more relevant and more controversial than ever before. As the middle-east is torn apart by the most horrific violence since the creation of Israel, Said has already been blamed for providing academic cover to Hamas’s murderous actions. Said, these critics say, was a rabid anti-Western, anti-Semitic, Arab extremist who legitimized the use of violence by terrorists calling themselves freedom fighters. But others have recalled the intellectual clarity and moral urgency Said brought to the Palestine question. Those who respect Said see him as a cosmopolitan, liberal, secular humanist who consistently critiqued colonialism, whether Western or Israeli. Both sides, however, acknowledge  that something remarkable is happening in the West, particularly the United States: for the first time, a generational divide has opened up between the elders who stand steadfastly by Israel and the youth who are speaking up for Palestinians. This generational battle is being fought on elite college campuses where student protests against unconditional US aid for Israel’s war on Gaza have put college presidents in the crosshairs and upended careers. Articulated in a Saidian language of anti-colonialism and Orientalism, this youth protest is more aligned with the political position of the non-West/global South than the older West/global North which views the conflict largely in terms of its own troubled history of anti-Semitism and the holocaust. What should we make of Edward Said and his legacy at this global conjuncture? How have Said’s intellectual preoccupations and political commitments shaped today’s divided discourse about the middle-east? What is the long-term impact of Said’s literary preoccupations and cultural interventions within and beyond academia?

We invite original scholarly papers for a proposed edited volume that explores the legacy of Edward Said in the wake of the current Israel-Palestine war. 

While we would like to include a wide range of topics and perspectives in the edited, the following areas will be of particular interest:

  • Said, democracy, and decolonization in the context of (de)globalization, the rise of China, great power competition
  • Said, zionism, and the politics of Palestine today
  • Said’s influence on public opinion in America/the West/other regions about the Middle East
  • Said’s cosmopolitanism/secularism/humanism/liberalism: scope, relevance, limits
  • “Orientalism” today
  • Said’s influence on literary and cultural studies as practiced today

Please send abstracts of 300 words, a 100-word bio, and five keywords by March 15, 2024 to


or noelle.brada-williams@sjsu.edu

Let us also know if you’d like your abstract  to be considered for inclusion in a proposed special session at the 2025 annual Modern Language Association conference scheduled for 9-12 Jan in New Orleans. 

Full articles of 5000-8000 words should be submitted by November 30th, 2024.




Revathi Krishnaswamy