Gods That Always Fail
This year's Reith lecturer is the Palestinian American academic, political activist, and literary critic Edward Said. He joined the faculty of Columbia University in 1963 where he is now Professor of English and Comparative Literature. Regarded as one of the founders of post-colonial theory, his 1978 book Orientalism is one of the most influential scholarly books of the 20th century.
In his sixth and final lecture, Edward Said considers how far an intellectual should participate in the public sphere. He examines the dilemma of loyalty to a cause, the nature of belief, and the problems faced by those who publicly recant. The hardest aspect of being an intellectual, he says, is to represent what you profess through your work and interventions, without turning into an institution or acting at the behest of a system or method.