The Last Amateur: Jonathan Swift, Edward Said, and the Profession of Literature


ACLS Fellowship Program




“The Last Amateur” examines the living affinity between two complex and charismatic writers, Jonathan Swift and Edward W. Said, in order to revitalize our understandings of both. More importantly, through uncovering a relationship between a professional writer and a public intellectual joined across centuries by a despairingly hopeful belief in the power of words, this study both affirms and questions what it means to be a professor—in the word’s original sense of a member of the faith, in Said’s sense of himself as a writer with a profound belief in the canon’s enduring power, in our own sense of ourselves as critics and teachers—of literature.