Said’s Orientalism (1978) is THE seminal work in the study of Islam. However, as other posts have suggested, it gets more play than perhaps it deserves. This leaves me with a dilemma when trying to include  Said’s work in my undergraduate classes on Islam. I believe that it is always best for students to consume an author’s own words rather than try to derive their ideas from summary works. However, to assign the full book takes too much time and puts too much emphasis on Said’s ideas.

The solution is a film entitled, Edward Said: On Orientalism (1998). This film combines introductory narration, interviews with Said, and clips from news media, movies, and images from classical art to demonstrate the core of Said’s arguments. Hence, the film is far more interesting than one would expect an interview to ever be. My students found it engaging, informative, and thought provoking. By engaging Said’s ideas in a short 40 minutes, it is then possible to turn to a critique of the ideas without making Orientalism the whole of the course.

For more information, see: http://www.mediaed.org/videos/MediaRaceAndRepresentation/EdwardSaidOnOrientalism

Ron Lukens-Bull