Session 3 & 4: Deconstruction as a method – Hospitality: conditional and unconditional & Deconstructing sovereignty

The course consists of five sessions. Please note, you will need to book onto all five sessions to complete the course. It is aimed at research students, who wish to learn more about deconstruction and how to use it for research in the humanities and social sciences. The aim of the workshop is to examine deconstruction as a method for political analysis broadly conceived. We read examples of deconstructive analyses by Jacques Derrida and others, and we discuss the methodological implications of deconstruction as well as the philosophical assumptions behind it. Deconstruction is often used in literature and cultural studies, but is less used as a method in social and political theory, let alone political science. Having said that, and although deconstruction is usually associated with Derrida’s work, it has been put to use by political theorists such as Judith Butler, Lisa Disch, Bonnie Honig, Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. The course examines the usefulness of deconstruction for the study of politics not only by reading about deconstruction, but also by seeing how it can be put to use in the analysis of texts. Each session is organised around set texts and will focus on methodological issues as well as substantial political concepts.

At the end of the course, the participants will have knowledge of the philosophical assumptions behind deconstruction, the implications of deconstruction for questions surrounding the use of methods in the social sciences and humanities, the politics of deconstruction, and the use deconstruction for concrete socila and political analysis.

Session 3: Hospitality: conditional and unconditional

What would a Derridean film about Derrida look like? What would a deconstructive biography be like? What does Derrida have for breakfast? And lunch? Does it matter? Do the sex lives of philosophers matter? Who is the author of a biography? If Derrida’s family do not understand him, who does? What is deconstruction? Is deconstruction like Seinfeld? Why all this talk about Derrida? In this session we watch and discuss the movie Derrida.

Essential preparatory readings:
Derrida, Jacques, ‘Autoimmunity: Real and Symbolic Suicides – A Dialogue with Jacques Derrida’, in Giovanna Borradori, Philosophy In a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), pp. 124-30.
Jacques Derrida, ‘Hostipitality’, trans. Barry Stocker and Forbes Morlock, Angelaki vol.5, no. 3 (2000): 3-18. Reprinted in Lasse Thomassen (ed.), The Derrida-Habermas Reader (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006), pp. 208-30.
Additional readings
Derrida, Jacques, Of Hospitality: Anne Dufourmantelle Invites Jacques Derrida to Respond, trans. Rachel Bowlby (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000).
Derrida, Jacques, Hospitality. Volume I and II (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2023 and 2024).
Naas, Michael, ‘Hospitality as an Open Question: Deconstruction’s Welcome Politics’, in Taking on the Tradition: Jacques Derrida and the Legacies of Deconstruction (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003), pp. 154-69.
Thomassen, Lasse, British Multiculturalism and the Politics of Representation (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2017), chapter 5.
errida (London: Verso, 2020).

Session 4: Deconstructing sovereignty

What does sovereignty ‘do’? What is the relationship between sovereignty and performativity? What role does images of sovereignty play? What are the implications of the deconstruction of sovereignty for how we think about democracy and the state? And the university? What role does the pair conditionality/unconditionality play in the context of sovereignty?

Essential preparatory readings:

Derrida, Jacques, Rogues: Two Essays on Reason (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005), Preface (xi-xv), introduction to Part 1 (1-5), §6 (63-70), §8 (78-94), §9 (95-107).

Additional readings

Bartelson, Jens, A Genealogy of Sovereignty (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 1-21, 49-52.

Brown, Wendy, ’Sovereign Hesitations’, in Pheng Cheah and Suzanne Guerlac (eds), Derrida and the Time of the Political (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009), pp. 114-32.

Derrida, Jacques, “The University without Condition,” in Without Alibi, ed. Peggy Kamuf (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002).

Derrida, Jacques, “Unconditionality or Sovereignty: The University at the Frontiers of Europe,” Oxford Literary Review 31, no. 2 (2009).

Derrida, Jacques, The Beast & the Sovereign: Volume I and II (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009 and 2010).

Leitch, Vincent B., ‘Late Derrida: The Politics of Sovereignty’, Critical Inquiry 33 (Winter 2007): 229-47.

Patton, Paul, ‘Deconstruction and the Problem of Sovereignty’, Derrida Today 10:1 (2017): 1-20.

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