Abstract

In a critical theory milieu that claims to be "after theory" or "post-theory," an often unchallenged assumption is that poststructuralism destroyed the possibility of reading texts in contexts. New Historicism, pragmatism, and (more recently) literary Darwinism have reacted against "theory" by returning texts to the context of life and politics. Such restorative maneuvers foreclose the possibility of a genuinely critical account of the genesis and force of contexts. The received idea of deconstruction or poststructualism as "ahistorical" or "textualist" needs to be reexamined in order to formulate a theory of context and text adequate for twenty-first-century modes of textuality. I draw upon the work of Gilles Deleuze and Jacques Derrida to provide a more considered theory of context.

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