Rei Terada

Picture of Rei Terada
Professor, Comparative Literature
School of Humanities
Ph.D., Boston University, 1990
Phone: n/a
University of California, Irvine
270 Humanities Instructional Building
Mail Code: 2651
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
theory; history of philosophy; romanticism; psychoanalysis
Academic Distinctions
Executive Committee, American Comparative Literature Association, 2020-23
Executive Committee, MLA Division on Literary Criticism, 2010-12
Executive Committee, MLA Division on Philosophical Approaches to Literature, 2002-07
Research Abstract
Harvard University Press's descriptions of Looking Away (2009) and Feeling in Theory are below.

In Looking Away, Rei Terada revisits debates about appearance and reality in order to make a startling claim: that the purpose of such debates is to police feelings of dissatisfaction with the given world. Focusing on romantic and post-romantic thought after Kant, Terada argues that acceptance of the world “as is” is coerced by canonical epistemology and aesthetics. In guilty evasions of this coercion, post-Kantian thinkers cultivate fleeting, aberrant appearances, perceptual experiences that do not present themselves as facts to be accepted and therefore become images of freedom. This “phenomenophilia,” she suggests, informs romanticism and subsequent philosophical thought with a nascent queer theory.

Through graceful readings of Coleridge’s obsession with perceptual ephemera, or “spectra,” recorded in his Notebooks; of Kant’s efforts in his First and Third Critiques to come to terms with the given world; of Nietzsche’s responses to Kant and his meditations on ephemeral phenomenal experiences; and of Adorno’s interpretations of both Nietzsche and Kant, Terada proposes that the connection between dissatisfaction and ephemeral phenomenality reveals a hitherto-unknown alternative to aesthetics that expresses our right to desire something other than experience “as is,” even those parts of it that really cannot be otherwise.
Because emotion is assumed to depend on subjectivity, the “death of the subject” described in recent years by theorists such as Derrida, de Man, and Deleuze would also seem to mean the death of feeling. This revolutionary work transforms the burgeoning interdisciplinary debate on emotion by suggesting, instead, a positive relation between the “death of the subject” and the very existence of emotion.

Reading the writings of Derrida and de Man—theorists often seen as emotionally contradictory and cold—Rei Terada finds grounds for construing emotion as nonsubjective. This project offers fresh interpretations of deconstruction’s most important texts, and of Continental and Anglo-American philosophers from Descartes to Deleuze and Dennett. At the same time, it revitalizes poststructuralist theory by deploying its methodologies in a new field, the philosophy of emotion, to reach a startling conclusion: if we really were subjects, we would have no emotions at all.

Engaging debates in philosophy, literary criticism, psychology, and cognitive science from a poststructuralist and deconstructive perspective, Terada’s work is essential for the renewal of critical thought in our day.
Awards and Honors
Keats-Shelley Award, 2012

René Wellek Prize of the American Comparative Literature Association, 2001-2002, for Feeling in Theory

Metaracial: Hegel, Antiblackness, and Political Identity_ (U of Chicago P, 2023)

Looking Away: Phenomenality and Dissatisfaction, Kant to Adorno (Harvard UP, 2009)

Feeling in Theory: Emotion after the “Death of the Subject” (Harvard UP, 2001)

Derek Walcott's Poetry: American Mimicry (Northeastern UP, 1992)

"Blackness and Anthropogenesis in Frankenstein." In Frankenstein in Theory:A Critical Anatomy", ed. Orrin C. Wang. London: Bloomsbury, 2020, 131-152.

"Impasse as a Figure for Political Space." Comparative Literature 72 (2020), 144-158.

"In the Place of Labor's Exhaustion: Ogawa Pro's A Japanese Village." Diacritics 46 (2019), 34-55.

"Hegel's Racism for Radicals." Radical Philosophy 205 (2019), 2-14.

"The Racial Grammar of Kantian Time." English Romantic Review 28 (2017), 267-278.

“Repletion: Masao Adachi’s Totality.” Qui Parle 24 (2016), 15-43.

"Hegel and the Prehistory of the Postracial." English Romantic Review <.i> 26 (2015), 289-299.

"Speaking to No One." Journal of Contemporary Thought (India), Summer 2014.

Interview with Rei Terada and R.A. Judy, ed. Jessica Berman. The 2014-15 Report on the State of the Discipline of Comparative Literature, Ed. U. Heise et al. (New York: Routledge, 2017).

“Living a Ruined Life: De Quincey’s Damage.” In Romanticism and Emotions, ed. Joel Faflak and Richard Sha (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2014).

“Pasolini’s Acceptance.” In States of Exception: Sovereignty, Security, Secrecy, ed. George Edmondson and Klaus Mladek (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017).

“Hegel’s Bearings.” Romantic Circles Praxis Series (January 2012), [U of Maryland].

“Looking at the Stars Forever.” Studies in Romanticism 50 (2011), 275-309.

“Out of Place: Free Speech, Disruption, and Student Protest.” Qui Parle 20 (2011), 251-269.

“The Life Process and Forgettable Living” [on Arendt and Agamben]. New Formations 71 (2011), 95-109.

“The Frailty of the Ontic.” SAQ 110 (2011), 37-55.

“Living a Ruined Life: De Quincey Beyond the Worst.” European Romantic Review 20 (2009), 177-186.

"After the Critique of Lyric." PMLA (January 2008).

“Scruples, or, Faith in Derrida.” South Atlantic Quarterly 106 (2007), 237-264.

“Strange Intelligibility: Clarity and Vivacity in Dream Language.” In Dreams of Interpretation, ed. Catherine Liu, John Mowitt, Thomas Pepper, and Jakki Spicer (U of Minnesota P, 2007).

“Writing as a Child: Lowell’s Poetic Penmanship.” In Reading the "Middle Generation" Anew: Culture, Community, and Form in Twentieth-Century American Poetry, ed. Eric Haralson (U of Iowa P, 2006).

“Seeing is Reading.” Romantic Circles (May 2005), http:// [U of Maryland]. Reprinted in Legacies of Paul de Man, ed. Marc Redfield (New York: Fordham UP, 2007.

“Thinking for Oneself: Realism and Defiance in Arendt.” ELH 71 (2004), 839-865. Reprinted with reply by Mary Jacobus in Textual Practice 22 (2008).

“Phenomenality and Dissatisfaction in Coleridge’s Notebooks.” Studies in Romanticism 43 (2004), 257-281.

“Philosophical Self-Denial: Wittgenstein and the Fear of Public Language.” Common Knowledge 8 (2002).

“Pathos (Allegories of Reading).” Studies in Romanticism 39 (2000).

“Imaginary Seductions: Derrida and Emotion Theory." Comparative Literature 51 (1999).

“Psyche, Inc.: Derridean Emotion after de Man.” Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 29 (1998).

“De Man and Mallarmé ‘Between the Two Deaths,’” in Meetings with Mallarmé in Contemporary French Culture, ed. Michael Temple (U of Exeter P, 1998).

“De Man, Blanchot, and the Fate of the Past.” Paragraph 19 (1996).

“Austin and Antin about ‘About.’” Substance 24 (1995).

“‘History’s Innocence, or its Remorse’: Walcott, Emerson, Nietzsche.” Verse 11 (1994).

“The New Aestheticism.” Diacritics 23 (1994), 42-61.
Editing Work:

Philosophy and Culture. Special issue of Romantic Circles Praxis Series (June, 2008).

"Ethics and Politics of Proximity" (cluster of articles with preface). Postmodern Culture 15.2 (2005). [Johns Hopkins UP]
Office of the Vice-President for Research, University of Michigan, 1992-94.
Faculty Career Development Award, University of Michigan, 1995
University of California Humanities Research Institute Residential Fellow, 2004
Summer Research Initiative, with Erin Trapp ($10,000), UC Irvine, 2008.
UC Humanities Research Institute, "You May Add or Subtract from the Work: On the Work of Christopher D'arcangelo," conference at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, co-PI Simon Leung, $10,000, 2016-2017.
UC Humanities Research Institute, University and State Working Group, faculty co-sponsor with R. Radhakrishnan, co-P.I.s Williston Chase and Brandon Wild, 2016-present.
Professional Societies
American Comparative Literature Association
NASSR (North American Society for the Study of Romanticism)
Other Experience
Professor of English
University of California, Berkeley 2002—2003
Asst. and Assoc. Professor of English and Comparative Literature
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 1991—2001
Research Centers
Summer Studio in Materialist and Decolonial Aesthetics and Politics (faculty), sponsored by Bard College at Simon's Rock and University of Granada, University of Granada, Spain, 2017.
Faculty, School of Criticism and Theory, Cornell University, 2012
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