NeMLA 2019_Deconstruction and the Legacy of Edward Said

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
contact email: 

Deconstruction and the Legacy of Edward Said

Edward Said has been called a great many things: humanist, critic, professor of terror. Practitioner of deconstruction, however, has never numbered among them. Said himself cast suspicion on what he called “those varieties of deconstructive Derridean readings that end (as they began) in undecidability and uncertainty.” These telescopic textual practices “defer too long a declaration,” Said went on to write, “that the actuality of reading is, fundamentally, an act of perhaps modest human emancipation and enlightenment.” Without yoking Said into this cult of undecidability, the organizers of this panel hope instead to think productively the affiliations that might be imagined at the crux of disagreement: that is, the critical-literary project of Said and the textual-philosophical project of Jacques Derrida. What happens, in other words, when these two thinkers are considered alongside and even in productive antagonism with one another? Surely, for example, both Said and Derrida center rigorously on the encounters, intimacies, and tensions that inhere in the text; they enact, too, their respective cultural and philological analyses with the promises of political transformation always on the horizon; finally, during their careers, they remained stubbornly at the margins of received professional and disciplinary protocols, expressing deep cynicism about the direction of self-congratulatory critical currents and the state of (anti-)humanist values.

With these intersections and points of departure in mind, we seek papers that take up or intervene in topics including:

  • Said and deconstruction, Derrida and cultural studies
  • Polemics on textuality and close reading
  • Histories of and scholarship on eurocentrism and logocentrism
  • Overlaps between philosophy and literature
  • The current state of theory/praxis divisions and imbrications

Please send abstracts by 30 September 2018. Any questions may be directed toward James Fitz Gerald at