Twentieth-Century Literature, theory, culture and politics
My research and teaching have for some time focused on the problem of the relations between literature and fields such as philosophy, history, and politics. I teach courses on 19th and 20th-century French fiction, on literary and historical-cultural topics related to the Dreyfus Affair, World Wars I and II, and the Algerian War, and on problems such as nationalism, postcolonialism, and cultural identity. I also teach in the Critical Theory Emphasis.
I have always been interested in the way approaches to literature that are concerned with questions of literary specificity and textuality can also open up critical perspectives on historical, philosophical, and political problems. My research reflects this general interest in different ways. In The Subject in Question: The Languages of Theory and the Strategies of Fiction, I investigate critically a wide range of theoretical positions in relation to the philosophical and historical issues raised by contemporary forms of fiction, and most particularly by the novels of Claude Simon. Paraesthetic: Foucault, Lyotard, Derrida, consists of an analysis of the disruptive critical function played by what I call "the (para)aesthetic" in the philosophical and political texts of three important contemporary French theorists. French Literary Fascism: Nationalism, Anti-Semitism, and the Ideology of Culture, analyzes the formative role of organic, totalizing views of literature and aesthetics in the work of a number of extremist nationalist writers at the turn of the century and in the writings of fascist, anti-Semitic intellectuals during the 1930s and 1940s. My most recent book, Albert Camus, The Algerian: Colonialism, Terrorism, Justice, focuses on what Camus calls "the Algerian in him" and in his work and proposes a reading of Camus' novels, short stories, and political essays at odds with the dominant postcolonial interpretations of his work.
My current research investigates the problem of the representation of national identity in the work of various 19th and 20th-century French writers, historians, and philosophers at different moments of cultural and political crisis.
The Subject in Question: The Languages of Theory and The Strategies of Fiction. University of Chicago Press (1982).
Paraesthetics: Foucault, Lyotard, Derrida. Methuen (1987).
French Literary Fascism: Nationalism, Anti-Semitism, and the Ideology of Culture, Articles on literary theory, culture, 19th-20th century literature. Princeton University Press (1995).
Albert Camus, The Algerian: Colonialism, Terrorism, Justice (New York: Columbia University Press, Spring 2007)
"Community after Devastation: Culture, Politics, and the 'Public Space,'" in Politics, Theory, and Contemporary Culture, edited by Mark Poster
Columbia University Press (1993).
"Camus's Algeria: Birthrights, Colonial Injustice, and the Fiction of a French-Algerian People," Modern Language Notes, "Camus 2000," v. 112, no. 4 (Summer 1997).
"The Art of the People: Aesthetic Transcendence and National Identity in Jules Michelet,"
Boundary 2, v. 25, no. 1 (Spring 1998).
"The Limits of Representation and the Right to Fiction; Shame, Literature, and the Memory of the Shoah,"
L'Esprit Crèateur, v. 39, no. 4 (Winter 1999).
"The Aesthetics of Nationalism and the Limits of Culture," in
Politics and Aesthetics in the Arts, edited by Salim Kemal and Ivan Gaskell
Cambridge University Press (2000).
"Organicism in History and Literature: From (Murray Krieger's) Poetics to (Jules Michelet's) Politics," in Revenge of the Aesthetic: The Place of Literature in Theory Today, edited by Michael P. Clark
University of California Press (2000).
"Memorial for the Diffèrend: In Memory of Jean-François Lyotard,"
Parallax, no. 17 (October-December, 2000).
"The Colonial City and the Question of Borders: Albert Camus's Allegory of Oran,"
L'Esprit Crèateur, v. 41, No. 3 (Fall 2001).
"Thinking History Otherwise: Fiction and the Sites of Memory in Claude Simon," in Claude Simon: A Retrospective, edited by Jean Duffy and Alastair Duncan
Liverpool University Press (2002).
"The Post-Literary Condition: Sartre, Camus, and the Question(s) of Literature," in Rereading the Literary, edited by Liz Beaumont Bissell
Manchester University Press (2002).
"Fascism, Colonialism, and 'Race': The Reality of a Fiction," in Fascism and Neofascism: Critical Writings on the Radical Right in Europe, edited by Angelica Fenner and Eric D. Weitz
Palgrave Macmillan (2004)
“Albert Camus – Political Journalist: Democracy in an Age of Terror,” Preface to
Camus at Combat, Jacqueline Lévi-Valensi, ed., Arthur Goldhammer, trans. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005; Paperback edition, 2007)
“Guilt by ‘Race’: Injustice in Camus’s The Stranger,” Cardozo Law Review, v. 26,
no. 6 (2005), pp. 101-113.
“Jacques Derrida ou le don d’écriture – quand quelque chose se passe,” Rue Descartes
(Revue du Collège International de Philosophie), for a special issue entitled « Salut à
Jacques Derrida, » no. 48 (2005), pp. 99-109. Also appeared in English as “Jacques
Derrida or the Gift of Writing – When Something Happens,” SubStance, Issue 106, v.
34, no. 1 (2005), pp. 60-71.
“‘Remains’ of Algeria: Justice, Hospitality, Politics,” in Jacques Derrida, MLN,
v. 121, no. 4 (September 2006), pp. 808-827.
“Rethinking the Absurd : Le Mythe de Sisyphe,” in Cambridge Companion to Camus,
Edward Hughes, ed.(Cambridge England: Cambridge University Press, Spring 2007)
“Jacques Derrida ou le don d’écriture – quand quelque chose se passe,”—for a memorial conference honoring Jacques Derrida at the Collège International de Philosophie in Paris (October 21, 2004).
“Terrorism and Justice: Camus’ Algerian War,” Dartmouth (May 17, 2005)
“Justice Before History: Saying yes and no to politics at the same time” – for a
colloquium entitled “Camus Devant L’Histoire,” at the University of Florida
(February 8-9, 2008)
Discussion with Etienne Balibar of Albert Camus, The Algerian: Colonialism, Terrorism,
Justice – at UCLA (February 15, 2008)
“The End(s) of the Intellectual: Ethics, Politics, Terror,” for a colloquium entitled
“Europe, Nationalisms, and the Intellectual," at Texas A&M (February 29, 2008).