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Occasional Deconstructions

Julian Wolfreys

Publication Year: 2004

In Occasional Deconstructions, Julian Wolfreys challenges the notion that deconstruction is a critical methodology, offering instead a number of reintroductions or reorientations to the texts of Jacques Derrida and the idea or possibility of deconstructions. Proceeding from specific readings of various texts (both film and literary), as well as mobilizing a number of issues from Derrida’s recent work surrounding questions of ethics, politics, and identity, Wolfreys considers the role of deconstruction in broader academic and institutional contexts, and questions whether, in fact, deconstruction can be called upon to function as theory at all. In this book, Wolfreys suggests that the patient, necessary work of reading, in which response and responsibility to the other has a chance to manifest itself, is necessary to the always political and ethical tracing of the material and the historical. He also contends that reading should be an encounter that gives place to an acknowledgment of the other, and that this singular act by which one is introduced to the other can never be programmed.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

Any statement of thanks will always resort to the formulaic. The attempt to add something “more” to the process only runs the risk of sounding even more like the same old thing. So, no more words, as I’ve already said too much, and can only say that the occasions of gratitude are many and sincere. Donald Ault, Joan Brandt, Mary Ann Caws, Claire Colebrook, Sophie...

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pp. 1-11

The purpose of Occasional Deconstructions is multiple, though all of its aims are closely related. Mobilizing a number of issues from Jacques Derrida’s recent work around questions of ethics, politics, and identity, and addressing the ways in which these pertain to the necessary work of acts of reading attentive to the demands that the concerns...


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Chapter 1. Reflecting on the Occasions of Introduction: Justifying the Unjustifiable or, Beginning Again

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pp. 15-32

Ever since Jacques Derrida addressed himself to the problematic of introduction in relation to Hegel’s “Preface” to the Phenomenology, everything that can be said on the subject of introductions has been said. Everything is exhausted, has become stale and familiar, especially, it has to be said, this chapter. And it’s for that reason why this...


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Chapter 2. Uncanny Temporalities, Haunting Occasions: Sunset Boulevard

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pp. 35-60

Matters of structure and sequence are announced in and through the notion of “film,” staging and representation also; and, through these, the projection of a certain economy or genealogy of cinema, having to do with what remains, what haunts, what retreats...

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Chapter 3. Biography’s Ruins: The Afterlife of Mary Shelley

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pp. 61-86

Will an event have taken place in the texts bearing the signature of Muriel Spark? Will an event have arrived that suspends the reception of such texts in relation to questions of delimitable periodization or context? How can we know, how might we be sure, other than, possibly, through the chance of a belated reading that still remains...

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Chapter 4. Between: Speculations

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pp. 87-111

What is the place or, perhaps more precisely, what is the “taking place,” that the notion or motif of between designates? Hardly a concept, more a figure for a motion without form, between, if it is anything at all, is among the most ambiguous and inaccurate of terms....


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Chapter 5. Eternity and a Day or, an “Endless Foreword”: Tout dire

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pp. 115-136

I put the term “given” in quotes because I was unable to present the paper myself, which duty was performed by the conference organizer, Martin McQuillan, to whom I am grateful for, quite literally, standing in for me, and allowing me to “speak” through him—an act of ventriloquism, mimicry, and haunting—by which means I managed a momentarily...

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Chapter 6. Citation’s Haunt: Spectres of Derrida

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pp. 137-159

The occasions for this chapter’s “original” appearances led to two different versions, in two languages, and its subsequent shaping has had to do materially with the response to these situations, in relation to the question of citation and the institution of scholarship. First...

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Chapter 7. Occasions of Trauma and Testimony: Witnessing, Memory, and Responsibility

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pp. 161-188

Although there is a significant number of critical works addressing the figure and effects of trauma, or what Ulrich Baer calls “unresolved experience,”1 and the related role of testimony in literature, there is no single school of criticism, no one methodology as such, dealing with these issues. It is not the purpose of this chapter...


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Chapter 8. Origins of Deconstruction? Deconstruction, that which arrives (if it arrives at all)

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pp. 191-207

This chapter had its “origins” as a paper presented at the annual conference of the IAPL (International Association of Philosophy and Literature), at one of two panels entitled “Origins of Deconstruction,” terms that this chapter, clearly, takes as its title....

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Chapter 9. Hauntology or the Political? (or, No Politics, Not Now): Always Already Deceived

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pp. 209-226

This chapter was, in its first version, an invited presentation, given at a conference, “Almost Always Deceived: Revolutionary Praxis and Reinventions of Need” held in Spring 2001 at the University of Florida and organized by the Marxist Reading Group. As with the chapter that follows, the present chapter addresses the motif of spectrality as...

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Chapter 10. Letter to Martin McQuillan, Concerning “the New International”: The Indelible Marx of Haunting

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pp. 227-248

Thank you, first of all, for inviting me to participate in the edition of Parallax addressing the question of “the New International,”1 as that figure is raised in Specters of Marx. I’m writing this letter in lieu of an article or essay because I don’t have the time to write something that might be, on...


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Chapter 11. Guilty Reading

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pp. 251-301

How are we to answer this question? Is it answerable? Will we have done with it at the end of this chapter? The very difficulty of answering lies in the apparent simplicity, the naked transparency of this question. All at once it appears readable and yet, for all that, remains to be read, if not unreadable. We cannot escape this problem....


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pp. 303-353


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pp. 355-370


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pp. 371-373

E-ISBN-13: 9780791484432
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791462256
Print-ISBN-10: 0791462250

Page Count: 382
Publication Year: 2004

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Deconstruction.
  • Literature, Modern -- History and criticism.
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