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Derrida and Rancière

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Organizer: Jen Hui Bon Hoa

Co-Organizer: Andrew Parker

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This seminar examines the relationship between the work of Jacques Derrida and his former student at the École Normale Supérieure, Jacques Rancière. While Rancière has written two essays on Derrida to date (by invitation, with explicit reluctance), neither they nor, with rare exception, their readers, have recognized any special affinities in their thought. Derrida’s and Rancière’s concerns and methodologies overlap, however, in striking ways. They both undertake a critical genealogy of Western metaphysics, beginning with the Platonic regime of mimesis, in order to advance a philosophy of non-identity and rethink the concept of literature. Their work is organized around many of the same themes (e.g. time, writing, counting, pedagogy, art, democracy) and in dialogue with many of the same interlocutors, including Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, Kant, Marx, Poe, Baudelaire, Flaubert, Mallarmé, Freud, Artaud, Levi-Strauss, and Arendt. Finally, in the contentious contexts of French Marxism in the 1960s and 70s, both elaborate an anti-authoritarian politics that sides neither with Althusserianism nor with the majority of Althusser’s critics on the revolutionary left.

We welcome papers comparing any aspect of Derrida’s and Rancière’s philosophical and political projects. Possible topics include:
* Their treatments of shared questions, texts, or authors.
* The significance of divergences or omissions in their philosophical, artistic, and literary archives.
* Their relationships to contemporary interlocutors, e.g. Althusser, Blanchot, Deleuze, Foucault, Lacan, Lyotard, the nouveaux philosophes, Tel Quel.
* Their responses to May ’68 and other political events.

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