The purpose of this paper, delivered in the summer of 2001, is to situate the study of Byzantium in an intellectual context from which it has hitherto been strangely excluded. The fundamental text is Edward Said's Orientalism, published as long ago as 1978. 1 It is fair to say that even allowing for its critics (and it is clearly more difficult to put the case in support of Said after the events of September 2001 and their aftermath), Said's message has penetrated deep into the consciousness of many scholars and writers working on literature and culture. 2 Orientalism is focused on the analysis of literary texts, and in particular on the representation of the east and of Islamic cultures in western writing. Although Orientalism focuses in particular on the analysis of literary texts, Said has subsequently written other books more obviously political, not only The World, the Text and the Critic (Cambridge, Mass., 1983) but also Culture and Imperialism (New York, 1993). Born in Jerusalem of Palestinian parents, but brought up in Cairo, he has spoken of his childhood and his parents in his autobiography. 3 In view of his focus in Orientalism on the western study of Arab culture, and in light of his many other writings, he has been consistently identified as a champion of the Palestinian cause and this has led his political and cultural opponents to allege that he has considerably overstated his case not only in his more political and journalistic writing but also in his literary and cultural criticism. Nevertheless, amid the political contention, it is important to hold on to the serious literary and historical arguments made in the book. Orientalism traces the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which western consciousness has filtered the 'east' in literary works in order to suit its own agendas of superiority. But Said's analysis of the complex relation of the imperial and the subject subverts any such particular example of conscious or unconscious domination, and the modes by which academics seek to study 'other' societies.