The Theory Mess: Deconstruction in Eclipse

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Overview

Although deconstruction has become a popular catchword, as an intellectual movement it has never entirely caught on within the university. For some in the academy, deconstruction, and Jacques Derrida in particular, are responsible for the demise of accountability in the study of literature.

Countering these facile dismissals of Derrida and deconstruction, Herman Rapaport explores the incoherence that has plagued critical theory since the 1960s and the resulting legitimacy crisis in the humanities. Against the backdrop of a rich, informed discussion of Derrida's writings -- and how they have been misconstrued by critics and admirers alike -- The Theory Mess investigates the vicissitudes of Anglo-American criticism over the past thirty years and proposes some possibilities for reform.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

SubStance

An extensive and careful evaluation, through which Rapaport performs an inestimable service.

Booknews
Rapaport (U. of Southhampton) provides an account of the general reception of Jacques Derrida's work in Anglo-American academies, finding in it insight into what has been happening in critical theory there over the past three decades. He argues that the euphoria in the late 1970s that a new theoretical episteme had arrived to flush away the entrenched Englightenment humanism had by the late 1980s soured to cynicism about an overproliferation of theoretical models that come and go. Indeed his very index suggests that there are no longer subjects, only names. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231121354
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 1/3/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 8.97 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Herman Rapaport is a professor in the Department of English at the University of Southampton. His books include Is There Truth in Art? and Between the Sign and the Gaze.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroductionBeginningsCo-opting DeconstructionTheory as Postphilosophy: Rosi Braidotti, Geoffrey Hartman, Annette KolodnyThe Misconstruction of Deconstruction: Gerald Graff and Frank LentricchiaDemonizing Deconstruction: Walter Jackson Bate, RenÇ Wellek, and David LehmanAmerica is Deconstruction?Non-PlacetA World Apart: Derrida and the Frankfurt School1980--1987: A World of DifferenceDeconstructing Otherwise: Gayatri Chakravorty SpivakBritish Developments: The Influence of ÆMDULØScreenÆMDNMØEclipsing Deconstruction: History of Subject-Positions IEclipsing Deconstruction: History of Subject-Positions IILurching to the RightSocial Acts and Excitable SpeechVicious DualismsDeconstruction of the Social Relation I: Heidegger and SexDeconstruction of the Social Relation II: Derrida's ItinerariesDerrida and the PoliticalReconceiving the Theory MessPostscriptNotesBibliography

Columbia University Press

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2001

    Modern humanities for mere humans

    I suppose the author needed a hook to get the book published, so he billed it as a provocative defense of the controversial author Derrida. The book does make the relevant points defending Derrida and explaining why such a defense is necessary and desireable. In so doing, the book provides the reader a lightning tour of Derrida's work, something surprisingly hard to find otherwise in concise and comprehensive form. But best of all and least billed by book jacket and other reviewers, The Theory Mess gives a historical review of the past thirty years' development of such things as critical theory and 'social studies'. The reader should have some tolerance and facility with postmodern writing styles to easily read this book, but of its sort, it is highly readable and admirably concise. Overall, an outstanding read for the not-quite-beginner looking for an overview of the field, a more technical and less argumentative alternative to Bloom's 'Closing of the American Mind'.

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