The Shape of the Signifier: 1967 to the End of History / Edition 1

The Shape of the Signifier: 1967 to the End of History / Edition 1

by Walter Benn Michaels
Pub. Date:
Princeton University Press
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The Shape of the Signifier: 1967 to the End of History / Edition 1

The Shape of the Signifier is a critique of recent theory—primarily literary but also cultural and political. Bringing together previously unconnected strands of Michaels's thought—from "Against Theory" to Our America—it anatomizes what's fundamentally at stake when we think of literature in terms of the experience of the reader rather than the intention of the author, and when we substitute the question of who people are for the question of what they believe.

With signature virtuosity, Michaels shows how the replacement of ideological difference (we believe different things) with identitarian difference (we speak different languages, we have different bodies and different histories) organizes the thinking of writers from Richard Rorty to Octavia Butler to Samuel Huntington to Kathy Acker. He then examines how this shift produces the narrative logic of texts ranging from Toni Morrison's Beloved to Michael Hardt and Toni Negri's Empire. As with everything Michaels writes, The Shape of the Signifier is sure to leave controversy and debate in its wake.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691126180
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 10/09/2006
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 232
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.60(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction: The Blank Page 1

One: Posthistoricism 19

The End of History 19

Political Science Fictions 26

Partez au vert/Go on the green 41

The Shape of the Signifier 51

The End of Theory 66

Two: Prehistoricism 82

rocks 82

and stones 105

and trees 118

Three: Historicism 129

Remembering 129

Reliving 140

Dismembering 149

Forgetting 158

Coda: Empires of the Senseless 169

Notes 183

Index 213

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