Theory Aside

Theory Aside

Book Pages: 328 Illustrations: 1 illustration Published: June 2014

Cultural Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Theory, Theory and Philosophy

Where can theory go now? Where other voices concern themselves with theory's life or death, the contributors to Theory Aside take up another possibility: that our theoretical prospects are better served worrying less about "what’s next?" and more about "what else?" Instead of looking for the next big thing, the fourteen prominent thinkers in this volume take up lines of thought lost or overlooked during theory's canonization. They demonstrate that intellectual progress need not depend on the discovery of a new theorist or theory. Moving subtly through a diverse range of thinkers and topics—aesthetics, affect, animation and film studies, bibliography, cognitive science, globalization, phenomenology, poetics, political and postcolonial theory, race and identity, queer theory, and sociological reading practices—the contributors show that a more sustained, less apocalyptic attention to ideas might lead to a richer discussion of our intellectual landscapes and the place of the humanities and social sciences in it. In their turn away from the radically new, these essays reveal that what’s fallen aside still surprises.

. Ian Balfour, Karen Beckman, Pheng Cheah, Frances Ferguson, William Flesch, Anne-Lise François, Mark B. N. Hansen, Simon Jarvis, Heather Love, Natalie Melas, Jason Potts, Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Jordan Alexander Stein, Daniel Stout, Irene Tucker


“This insightful collection of essays regarding the use and place of theory in a post-theoretical realm dares to imagine how theory may successfully challenge and illuminate understanding of the world. . . . Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty.”  — S. Batcos, Choice

"Potts and Stout call for a more ‘modest’ critical practice that gives attention to previously neglected thinkers and considers how theory might have developed in different ways....[The book's] approach disciplines including gender studies, film, poetics and postcolonial studies from surprising, and often enlightening, perspectives." — Forum for Modern Language Studies

"Theory Aside is filled with surprising analytic moves that feel absolutely necessary. The contributors seek the undetonated futures of past and current theoretical paradigms, stepping to the side of where we think we've been to open up new ways of thinking. Their essays are distinguished by a probing, lucid quality that makes them a real pleasure to read." — Elizabeth Freeman author of Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories

"Theory Aside is a terrific collection, its argument highly cogent and its organization luminously clear. As the editors realize, it is ironic that some will find brand new their claim that critical theory might have had a different history, a history that the essays in this volume reimagine in a variety of engaging ways. If something newly important can be said today about Theory's future as well as its past, Theory Aside will surely be the volume that catalyzes this discussion." — Andrew Parker, author of The Theorist's Mother


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Jason Potts is Assistant Professor of English at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

Daniel Stout is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Mississippi.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Introduction. On the Side: Allocations of Attention in the Theoretical Moment / Jason Potts and Daniel Stout 1

Part I. Chronologies Aside

1. Writing the History of Homophobia / Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick 29

2. Late Exercises in Minimal Affirmatives / Anne-Lise François 34

3. Comparative Noncontemporaneities: C. L. R. James and Ernst Block / Natalie Melas 56

4. On Suicide, and Other Forms of Social Extinguishment / Elizabeth A. Povinelli 78

Part II. Approaches Aside

5. What Is Historical Poetics? / Simon Jarvis 97

6. The Biopolitics of Recognition: Making Female Subjects of Globalization / Pheng Cheah 117

7. Before Racial Construction / Irene Tucker 143

8. Archive Favor: African American Literature before and after Theory / Jordan Alexander Stein 160

9. What Cinema Wasn't: Animating Film Theory's Double Blind Spot / Karen Beckman 177

Part III. Figures Aside

10. Hyperbolic Discounting and Intertemporal Bargaining / William Flesch 199

11. The Primacy of Sensation: Psychophysics, Phenomenology, Whitehead / Mark B. N. Hansen 218

12. Reading the Social: Erving Goffman and Sexuality Studies / Heather Love 237

13. 13. Our I. A. Richards Moment: The Machine and Its Adjustments / Frances Ferguson 261

14. Needing to Know (:) Theory Afterwords / Ian Balfour 280

Bibliography 287

Contributors 299

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5681-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5670-7
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