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Tying up Derrida, Moving on Lacan

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Critical theory meets on Tuesday to finish discussing Derrida and to begin thinking about psychoanalysis–largely, Freud and Lacan, but including our crazy friends Deleuze and Guattari. I’m hoping to be able to move fairly quickly through the excerpts we’ve got, but I anticipate having to spend more time than less with poststructuralism. I’ve got a couple of handouts, particularly some general examples of deconstructive analysis, which should come in handy, but I think we’ll also need to go over Derrida’s own style as a performance of his methodology. I definitely want to discuss his constant redefinition of différance, as well as his neographisms, but it would be useful to try to sketch out some definitions, too. Even though Derrida would not really want us to. Well, let’s see… we will put our definitions under erasure, and consider definitions!

From Freud, our reading is pretty straightforward, but I’m a bit worried about the Lacan–“Instance of the Letter” and “Mirror Stage.” I’m hoping that the relationship between Lacanian psychoanalysis and some of the previous post-structuralists we’ve been reading will make his work clearer.

I’m also beginning to consider midterm exam materials… my initial thinking involves a two-part take home exam. The first part presents quotations from our theorists and asks students to identify them and summarize the idea being explored, and the second presents students with a popular but still academic essay (perhaps from the Times Book Review or the LRB), and asks them to identify the different critical approaches that are being employed. I’d like to do just one or the other, but I think I really need to ensure both comprehension and analytic comprehension. Regardless, it will definitely be closed-book; otherwise, there would be no end to the exam!