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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
PrefaceIntroductionBeginningsCo-opting DeconstructionTheory as Postphilosophy: Rosi Braidotti, Geoffrey Hartman, Annette KolodnyThe Misconstruction of Deconstruction: Gerald Graff and Frank LentricchiaDemonizing Deconstruction: Walter Jackson Bate, René 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
Posted July 7, 2001
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'.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.