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Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing: Dialectic, Destruction, Deconstruction

Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing: Dialectic, Destruction, Deconstruction

Hardback Insurrections: Critical Studies in Religion, Politics, and Culture

By (author) Catherine Malabou, Translated by Carolyn Shread, Foreword by Clayton Crockett, Introduction by Carolyn Shread

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  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 136 pages
  • Dimensions: 140mm x 210mm x 15mm | 454g
  • Publication date: 6 November 2009
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0231145241
  • ISBN 13: 9780231145244
  • Sales rank: 435,479

Product description

A former student and collaborator of Jacques Derrida, Catherine Malabou has generated worldwide acclaim for her progressive rethinking of postmodern, Derridean critique. Building on her notion of plasticity, a term she originally borrowed from Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit and adapted to a reading of Hegel's own work, Malabou transforms our understanding of the political and the religious, revealing the malleable nature of these concepts and their openness to positive reinvention. In French to describe something as plastic is to recognize both its flexibility and its explosiveness-its capacity not only to receive and give form but to annihilate it as well. After defining plasticity in terms of its active embodiments, Malabou applies the notion to the work of Hegel, Heidegger, Levinas, Levi-Strauss, Freud, and Derrida, recasting their writing as a process of change (rather than mediation) between dialectic and deconstruction. Malabou contrasts plasticity against the graphic element of Derrida's work and the notion of trace in Derrida and Levinas, arguing that plasticity refers to sculptural forms that accommodate or express a trace. She then expands this analysis to the realms of politics and religion, claiming, against Derrida, that "the event" of justice and democracy is not fixed but susceptible to human action.

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Author information

Catherine Malabou is a member of the philosophy faculty at the Universite Paris-X Nanterre and visiting professor in the Department of Comparative Literature at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Her books in English are The Future of Hegel: Plasticity, Temporality, Dialectic, What Should We Do with Our Brain, and Counter-Path, with Jacques Derrida. Her work mainly concerns articulating the concept of plasticity at the crossing of philosophy (dialectic and deconstruction) and neuroscience. Carolyn Shread is visiting lecturer of French at Mount Holyoke College. She has translated both scholarly (Frederic Vandenberghe's Philosophical History of German Sociology) and literary (Fatima Gallaire's House of Wives, Marie Vieux-Chauvet's The Raptors) texts and has published articles on translation studies, feminist theory, and contemporary French and Francophone literature. Clayton Crockett is associate professor and director of religious studies at the University of Central Arkansas. He is the author or editor of four books, most recently Interstices of the Sublime: Theology and Psychoanalytic Theory. He is a coeditor, along with Slavoj Zizek and Creston Davis, of Hegel and the Infinite: Religion, Politics, and the Dialectic.

Review quote

Malabou has provided a tantalizing glimpse of the ways in which philosophy at the dusk of writing must increasingly become our own way to recognize our potentials in an era of plasticity. -- Brenna Bhandar and Jonathan Goldeberg-Hiller Theory and Event vol 14, No1 transformative -- Peter Gratton Symposium Vol 14, No 2

Table of contents

Foreword, by Clayton CrockettTranslator's Introduction, by Carolyn ShreadPlasticity at the Dusk of WritingAfterword: Of the Impossibility of Fleeing -- PlasticityNotes