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After Poststructuralism

After Poststructuralism: Writing the Intellectual History of Theory

Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 340
  • Book Info
    After Poststructuralism
    Book Description:

    Tackles the issue of providing an intellectual history of theory, given the considerable continuity between theory and the history of ideas. The editors address this challenge with thirteen essays on a variety of theorists from Derrida to Zizek.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7068-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-22)

    How does one write the ‘intellectual history’ of theory in a time when both the conceptuality of ideas and the linearity of history have been called into question? This volume starts from the assumption that theory itself has profoundly altered the process of writing about theory. Traditional historiography has relied on notions of periodization, progress, continuity, teleology, causality, and exclusivity now questionable at a time when such positivisms have been subjected to anti-foundationalist critiques. While such notions remain useful and indeed necessary, this volume also tries to mark their limits by putting into play a new set of figures of...

  5. Genealogies

    • Some Theoretical and Historical Complications in Hegel’s Aesthetics of Comedy
      (pp. 25-42)

      In ‘Reply to Raymond Geuss,’ the last chapter of Paul de Man’s posthumously publishedAesthetic Ideology, de Man writes: ‘What is suggested by a reading such as the one I propose [in the essay ‘Sign and Symbol in Hegel’sAesthetics’] is that difficulties and discontinuities … remain in even as masterful and tight a text as theAesthetics. These difficulties have left their mark or have even shaped the history of the understanding of Hegel up to the present’ (191–2).¹

      Supposing this to be true, it will be interesting to pose the following questions to Hegel’s theory of comedy...

    • The Double Detour: Sartre, Heidegger, and the Genealogy of Deconstruction
      (pp. 43-87)

      This essay begins with Sartre’s supposed mistranslation ofBeing and TimeasBeing and Nothingness, and traces its legacy for a deconstruction that emerges in the crossing over of ‘phenomenology’ from Germany to France. That the French understanding of Heidegger was initially mediated by Sartre is well known. French intellectuals such as Jean Beaufret came to Heideggerà traversSartre, as Sartre himself came to Husserl via Levinas, or as Lacan came to Hegel by way of Kojève. Correcting this misprision, younger theorists such as Derrida recovered a place for Heidegger in deconstruction, so that Sartre, once a key figure...

    • The Premodern Condition: Neo-Primitivism in Baudrillard and Lyotard
      (pp. 88-109)

      The title of my paper alludes to Jean-François Lyotard’sThe Postmodern Conditionin order to make the point that the so-called postmodern critique of the modern relies heavily on the concept of the premodern or primitive.¹ Tomoko Masuzawa, in her deconstructive reading of the quest for the origin of religion, uneasily asks: ‘[W]e wonder … as to the meaning of the curious appendagepost-. Is this an extension – some kind of an afterlife, perhaps, of what it qualifies (structuralist, modern, industrial)? Or does it indicate a reversal of some sort, an atavistic return of what once was ‡ a...

    • The Sublime between History and Theory: Hegel, de Man, and Beyond
      (pp. 110-126)

      It is something of a scandal for ‘theory’ if it has a history in the first place. For is it not usually the claim of theory to be concerned with general, even universal matters or, a little more precisely, for its claims to be of a general or universal character? Is that not what separates theory from mere observation or judgment, even if one can always trace ‘theory’ back to its etymological roots in the Greektheorein– to see or observe? If theory is of its desired generality or universality, that would seem to imply that theory is more...

  6. Performativities

    • Theatrum Theoreticum
      (pp. 129-151)

      In 1826, Thomas Drummond’s invention of limelight made it possible for theatres ‘to generate, in combination with concave mirrors, lighting “effects”’ which by sheer quantity of directed light surpassed the rather timid previous attempts at staged lighting found, for instance, in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century painting. With this he set the stage for opening up, in Hans Blumenberg’s words, ‘new possibilities for an accentuating approach to vision, one that always takes as its point of departure the dark asthe “natural” state.’ ‘This manipulation is the result of a long process,’ he adds. The discovery that light could be manipulated and...

    • Topo-philosophies: Plato’s Diagonals, Hegel’s Spirals, and Irigaray’s Multifolds
      (pp. 152-178)

      The aim of this essay is to sketch certain Hegelian trajectories of Luce Irigaray’s work and, reciprocally, certain Irigarayan trajectories of Hegel’s, the trajectories that I shall trace via Plato, at one, and Gilles Deleuze and Jacques Derrida, at another end of the history of Western philosophy. Irigaray engages Hegel directly in her writing, as in such major works asSpeculum of the Other WomanandThis Sex Which Is Not One, or in her essay on Hegel, ‘The Universal as Mediation.’ My main concern here, however, is a certain general configuration arising at the intersection of Hegel’s and Irigaray’s...

    • The Eclipse of Coincidence: Lacan, Merleau-Ponty, and Žižek’s Misreading of Schelling
      (pp. 179-194)

      Why has the thought of Jacques Lacan played such a central role in the formation of the field of research and debate which is generally known as ‘cultural studies’? One answer would be that cultural studies evidently needed an account of the subjective dimension of the production and consumption of meanings. Lacan provided a theory of the subject which seemed able to survive deconstruction, to absorb and move beyond the influential demotion – even dissolutions – of the subject which have emerged from recent French thought. In Lacan’s work the concept of the subject is indispensable, but the subject is...

  7. Physiologies

    • Contradictory Pieces of Time and History
      (pp. 197-226)

      Mikhail Bakhtin’s writing contains no theory of history per se, but his writings on the chronotope, scattered throughout his work, provide indispensable clues for understanding how he performatively ‘felt’ about history. In the case of Bakhtin, we are dealing with a thinker whose thoughts on time and history can only be revealed if we are willing to let them play themselves out in what he writes rather than seeking all the keys to his thoughts by poring over everything he explicitly said. In other words, Bakhtinian times and histories must be performed by someone other than Bakhtin himself, not only...

    • The Body of History
      (pp. 227-244)

      The works of Michel Foucault are often read as histories of the body, and the controversies that surround his corpus often amount to a disagreement over the status of the body in these writings. Some critics, Charles Taylor among them, have charged that by presenting the body as thoroughly imbued by the discursive practices that are said to shape it, Foucault has left nothing for the forces of resistance to liberate (‘Foucault on Freedom and Truth’). Others, notably Judith Butler, have argued that even though the body is supposed not to exist outside the terms of these discursive practices, Foucault’s...

    • Written in the Sand: Bataille’s Phenomenology of Transgression and the Transgression of Phenomenology
      (pp. 245-262)

      Bataille is not – or notonly– a thinker of the social. When his name arises it is most often associated with notions of value, or negatively, nonproductivity:la part maudite, sovereignty, sacrifice – all of these concepts are cut adrift from their debt to Hegel in particular and phenomenology in general. An important exception, of course, is ‘From Restricted to General Economy: A Hegelianism without Reserve,’ where Derrida enlists Bataille to critique Hegel – but this is less than half the story: Bataille’s thought traces a trajectory that evokes a way beyond sheer negativity, past the phenomenological valorization...

  8. Technologies

    • Theory avant la Lettre: An Excavation in Early Modern England
      (pp. 265-283)

      Those who read and deploy critical theory are accustomed to thinking (to borrow a dashing phrase from that most dashing of modernists, Virginia Woolf) that ‘human character changed on or about December, 1637,’ when Descartes published theDiscourse on Methodthat attempted to evacuate from the thinking subject all acculturated content, including naturalized culture and, via the body, nature itself. Given the origin of the modernsciences humainesin France, it is understandable that Descartes’s move in thecogito, positing reason alone as the essence of the human condition, should be taken as the conventional baseline for the seventeenth-centuryepistemē....

    • Derrida, Foucault, and the Archiviolithics of History
      (pp. 284-309)

      From the tangled underroot of ideas that is Ezra Pound’s ‘paideuma’ to the textual ‘assemblages’ of Deleuze and Guattari; from the labyrinth of Joyce’sFinnegans Waketo Derrida’s inferno in the house of Freud; from the fantastical imaginings of Borges to the very rule of Foucauldian discourse; the archive may well be the central figure of twentieth-century literary and theoretical engagements with questions of knowledge.¹ As, in Borges’ words, a technology ‘whose hazardous volumes run the constant risk of being changed into others and in which everything is affirmed, denied, and confused as by a divinity in delirium’ (86), the...

    • De Man, Marx, Rousseau, and the Machine
      (pp. 310-332)

      In his one sustained commentary on his former colleague, Fredric Jameson states that Paul de Man

      was an eighteenth-century mechanical materialist, and much that strikes the postcontemporary reader as peculiar and idiosyncratic about his work will be clarified by juxtaposition with the cultural politics of the great Enlightenment philosophes: their horror of religion, their campaign against superstition and error (or ‘metaphysics’). In that sense, deconstruction … can be seen to be an essentially eighteenth-century philosophical strategy. (Postmodernism246)¹

      What does it mean for both deconstruction and Marxism to consider de Man as a postcontemporary version of eighteenth-century mechanical materialism? Jameson...

  9. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 333-336)
  10. Index
    (pp. 337-344)