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French Theory, Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze & Cie et les mutations de la vie intellectuelle aux Etats-Unis

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  99 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Baudrillard inspirant la science-fiction, Deleuze et Guattari les pionniers de l'Internet, Foucault les luttes communautaires et Derrida toute la théorie littéraire : après avoir croisé à New York la contre-culture des années 1970, les œuvres des philosophes français de l'après-structuralisme sont entrées dans les départements de littérature de l'université américaine, où ...more
Paperback, Poche, 380 pages
Published September 1st 2005 by La Découverte (first published October 9th 2003)
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Un livre vraiment dense et instructif, pour quelqu'un comme moi, totalement neuf sur la question, la seule introduction au sujet ayant été au travers du livre de Jacques Bouveresse sur les prodiges et vertiges de l'analogie. Il est question d'un courant universitaire aux États-Unis, inspiré par quelques français établis là-bas, et de leur diffusion et ramification dans le monde entier au bout de quelques décennies. C'est très précis et abondant, tout à fait bien adapté au public français puisqu' ...more
Emahunn Campbell
In the ivory towers that blanket America, especially in the humanities, acquiring the language of French Theory separates one scholar from her contemporaries. But to possess this language, to use it willingly and willfully, simultaneously necessitates scrutiny. The scholar is challenged on her understanding of Derrida, Foucault, Deleuze, Lacan, and, if one cares enough to cite a woman in his relentless interrogation, Kristeva and, to add an element of resounding surprise, Spivak. To take a cours ...more
Probably closer to 3.5 stars, but I'm rounding up because of the excellent cover and typographical presentation. If I were more finicky about spelling errors, though, I might have chosen to round down.

This is an excellent overview/analysis of both the epistemological context (especially insofar as it is organized, materially, by divisions in disciplinary knowledge production) and the historical conditions that allowed French theory to live in the U.S. university system. I kinda think that the fi
This was like reading a book-length version of US weekly but for critical theory. My goodness it was dripping with gossip and scandal.
Jose Palafox
As Prof. Dussel would say, this text is 'a eurocentric critique of eurocentrism.'
Sep 26, 2009 Elizabeth marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
from the library c 2008 for English translation by U of Minn

Table of Contents

Preface to the English Edition xi
Introduction: The Sokal Effect 1
Part I. The Invention of a Corpus
1. Prehistories
2. The Academic Enclave
3. The Seventies: A Turning Point
4. Literature and Theory
5. Deconstruction Sites
Part II. The Uses of Theory
6. The Politics of Identity
7. The Ideological Backlash
8. Academic Stars
9. Students and Users
10. Art Practices
The book begins by comparing the assemblage of post-'68 French theorists as the rugged actors in those lovable American cowboy Westerns.

What is this object called 'French theory,' and what kind of social and material conditions led to its practice?

Apparently, pragmatism + "college kultur" + identity politics + rugged individualism + hegemony + supercapitalism + proto-post-structuralist styles + neo-conservative backlash in America. And so you get histories in bite-sized chapters of: Sokal's hoax
This is the sort of title that has limited appeal, but for those of us who experienced the ripple effects of the importation and Americanization of French theory in college, this book explains a lot. While Cusset tells the intellectual history from a distinct point of view, it's one that is neither ra-ra nor nay-nay. It's somewhat more pragmatic and at times bemused.

The book explains the institutional, personal, cultural and political dynamics that explain the success of French Theory in the Ame
A truly pleasurable experience to read, and incidentally, an especially timely analysis as Barack Obama's U.S. Presidency shakes up the established foundations of "identity politics." Cusset has understanding in depth of the period depicted -- and remarkably, this includes a sensitive appreciation of the circulation of ideas across the Atlantic and the more sophisticated of the "pop" phenomena in the U.S. - not a dismissal. It's darned exciting to follow his theme of a "feedback loop" -- America ...more
Kim Lacey
Cusset argues that the US has reinvented French Theory for its own purposes, straying far from its original intentions in France. At the start, there's a fascinating chapter on the development of the US university that really situates how this reinvention was able to bloom here. If I would have read this at the beginning of grad school, I would have felt he was totally wrong; but looking back, Cusset nails a lot of the resistance to theory that surrounds humanities departments (like, from the sc ...more
Not a very good analysis of the problem. Outlines a "citation"-logic that is interesting but horrible when used as an explanation of any significant theoretical phenomena. This is the general case with studies of theory's spread: it's very interesting to isolate a particular practice because they are hard to think, ultimately. But what's harder to think is the logic of the total system involved, and which rewards certain practices rather than their possible alternatives.

I have a philosophy background (analytic more than continental) and I read this for a history graduate class (in the course of getting my PhD) and I found it to be too esoteric for me. The nature of the subject-matter is really to blame rather than the author. I'm glad I read this and certain parts were fascinating but I found it to be a book for the author's peers and colleagues rather than a book for the general public.
I was looking for at least a little introduction into the thought of the guys in the title, but that's not what this is. It was interesting to find out how their thought spread and came to dominate U.S. academic intellectual life, but ponderous in parts and dense in others.
Not for beginners, which, alas, I am. Still, the personalities are well-written and I've been inspired to catch up as best I can.

I youtube'd a bunch of Derrida lectures and bought some Levi-Strauss for background. Someday I'll pick this up again.
Caitlin Mitchell
Reading for grad school...
Kenneth Weafer
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Jun 30, 2015
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Down with the word "assemblage"! 1 16 Jun 01, 2008 08:52PM  
  • Speed and Politics (Semiotext(e) / Foreign Agents)
  • Paper Machine
  • The Politics of Truth (Foreign Agents)
  • Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism
  • Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display
  • The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art
  • The Rules of Art: Genesis and Structure of the Literary Field (Meridian-Crossing Aesthetics)
  • Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive Age
  • Reading Capital
  • An Anthology
  • Hatred of Democracy
  • The Writer of Modern Life: Essays on Charles Baudelaire
  • American Nietzsche: A History of an Icon and His Ideas
  • The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology
  • The Promise of Politics
  • Forget Foucault (Foreign Agents) (Semiotext(e) / Foreign Agents)
  • The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures
  • Downcast Eyes: The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth-Century French Thought
A writer and intellectual historian, who teaches american civilisation in Paris at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques and at Columbia University’s Reid Hall.
More about François Cusset...
The Inverted Gaze: Queering the French Literary Classics in America French Theory La DéCennie: Le Grand Cauchemar Des AnnéEs 1980 Queer critics : La littérature française déshabillée par ses homo-lecteurs Filosofia Francesa: a Influência de Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze & Cia

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