Edward Said and Authority – from Conrad to "Orientalism" and Beyond


  • Conor McCarthy


authority, molestation, empire


This essay traces the evolution, use and eventual decomposition of the term ‘authority’ in Edward Said’s critical practice from his early work on Joseph Conrad to his last essays on ‘late style’.   Authority and that which opposes it turn out to be crucial concepts for Said, deployed in his studies of music, literature, empire and theory.  This terminological assemblage is shown to enable penetrating insights but also serious blindspots in Said’s oeuvre and project.


Author Biography

Conor McCarthy

Conor McCarthy teaches English literature and intellectual history at Maynooth University, Ireland.   He's the author of The Cambridge Introduction to Edward Said (2010) and numerous essays on criticism, political theory and anti-imperialism.  His most recent book is Enforcing Silence: Academic Freedom, Palestine and the Criticism of Israel (2020), edited with David Landy and Ronit Lentin.





Articles commemorating the fortieth anniversary of Edward Said's "Orientalism"