françois Cusset’s work on french theory, foucault, Derrida, Deleuze and Co. and the transformations of intellectual life in the. United States, has not yet been. Review: Francois Cusset. French Theory: How Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, & Co. Transformed the Intellectual Life of the United States. Last week, while rushing to finish up a review of Francois Cusset’s French Theory : How Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, & Co. Transformed the.
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A forthcoming book takes a fresh perspective on how poststructuralism conquered America. Scott McLemee checks it out. Of course the only sensible thing to do was to ignore this development entirely.
The last thing you need when coming to the end of a piece of work ttheory to go off and do some more reading. The inner voice suggesting that is procrastination disguised as conscientiousness. Better, sometimes, to trust your own candlepower — however little wax and wick you may have left.
French Theory — University of Minnesota Press
Once my own cogitations were complete the piece will run in the next issue of Bookforumof course, I took a look at the Times Web site.
By then, Fish’s column had drawn literally hundreds of comments. This must warm some hearts in Minnesota. But in other ways it is unfortunate.
Of course there is always an audience for that sort of thing. But that is only one aspect of the story, and by no means the most interesting or rewarding. That the title of a French book was in English is not so much lost in translation as short-circuited by it. The bit of Anglicism is very much to the point: Nor were thheory so central to cultural and political debate there, at least after the mids, as they were to become for academics in the United States.
To put it another way: He looks at the process as it unfolded at various levels of academic culture: Along the way, he recounts the American debates over postmodernism, poststructuralism, and whatnot.
But those disputes are part of his story, not the point of it. Instead, it would be much more fitting to say that French Theory is an investigation of the workings of what C.
Even so, the throry is in some sense more Millsian in spirit than the author himself may realize. By contrast, Cusset, like Mills, is concerned with how the different parts of American culture intersect and reinforce one another, even while remaining distinct.
I didn’t say any of this in my review, alas. Sometimes the best ideas come as afterthoughts. The boilerplate account of how poststructuralism came to the United States usually begins with visit of Lacan, Derrida, and company to Johns Hopkins University for a conference in — then never really imagines any of their ideas leaving campus.
By contrast, French Theory pays cussset to how their work connected up with artists, musicians, writers, and sundry denizens of various countercultures. To become Deleuzian or Foucauldian, or what have you, is not necessarily a step along the way to the tenure track. There is more to the book than another account of pseudo-subversive relativism and neocon hyperventilation.
In other words, French Theory is not just another Fish story. It deserves a hearing — even, and perhaps especially, from people who have already made up their minds about “deconstructionism,” whatever that may be. Be the first to know.
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