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Bibliography by Jeff Scheible

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 9 months ago

Bibliography by Jeff Scheible


ByJeff Scheible, Visualization] Team


1. Anne H. Stevens and Jay Williams, “The Footnote, in Theory,” Critical Inquiry 32:2 (Winter 2006): 208–25.


The authors of this essay survey thirty years’ worth of footnotes in the “high-theory” journal Critical Inquiry and determine the frequency of cited authors, to thereby point to trends in theory, and to also question the “status of the footnote” itself in theoretical writing (208). Stevens and Williams point out that the footnote is a charged feature in academic writing in the humanities because “it allows us a means of evaluating the level of scholarship of an essay,” and how this is a relatively contemporary function. They then explain that they have created their own citational index, and with the data that it generates, they create a variety of tables and lists showing how often theorists are cited in five-year periods. Echoing proponents of quantitative humanities such as Franco Moretti, they write, “we believe that numbers can be used as a means to assess intellectual trends.” Their study had several suggestive findings. In the second half of the period surveyed, footnotes more than doubled in length. Half of the footnotes counted are from the last third of the journal’s history. The authors identify this “proliferation” explicitly with poststructuralist theory, but they are always careful to point out ways in which their findings might be misleading—due to methodological limitations or due to the kinds of works that we cite. Interestingly, and perhaps not surprisingly, Jacques Derrida is the journal’s most frequently cited author. They write, “While our study has helped us to map the history of theory in the pages of CI, it can also be used to identify new trends, figures whose stock is rising,” such as Agamben, Benjamin, Hardt and Negri, and Zizek. On the other side, those who have been less footnoted recently include theorists such as Leavis, Bloom, Booth, Culler, and Fish.

2. Janez Janša, Janez Janša, and Janez Janša, “Signature Event Context,”



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This website displays the performance of three Slovenian artists who all officially changed their names to “Janez Jansa,” to work on this art project, whose title borrows its name directly from Derrida’s “Signature Event Context.” On 28 January 2008, the three artists, using GPS devices, walked through the Berlin Holocaust Memorial in divergent paths so that the charting of their collective path signed their name. Online, an overhead map of the memorial allows us to see the signing of their name over the space in bright green. Each artist continually repeats the phrase “My name is Janez Jansa” in Slovenian, as they walk. We see video headshots of each artist repeating this phrase arranged vertically on the left sidebar of the screen. In a box on the upper right corner of the project’s website, we see the changing navigational coordinates (latitude and longitude) of each artist as they move through the memorial. Their “signature” lasts about five minutes. On the website, the artists cite the memorial’s architect describing the site, “Here, we can only know the past through its manifestation in the present.” A blog about the project explains that it “puts together 3 concepts (signature, event and context) from Derrida’s essay in complex relation; signature itself is an event which re-contexutalizes the site of signature” (http://transition.turbulence.org/blog/2008/01/29/signature-event-context/). The project itself, then, stands as a provocative contemporary performance and interpretation of Derrida’s essay, which is about communication and the problem of context.




3. Kathleen Davis, “Signature in Translation,” in Traductio: Essays on Punning and Translation, ed. Dirk Delabastita (Manchester, UK: St. Jerome, 1997), 23–44.


"This paper sets out to show the ways that wordplay is elucidated by post-structuralism and to resolve the confusion concerning Derrida’s approach to translatability, particularly in regard to wordplay. Because wordplay refers not to individual words or ideas, but to the systemic operation of a particular language, it comprises the self-referential signature of that language, which may at first seem untranslatable. Deconstruction would argue, however, that the self-reference of a signature can never be totally closed off from its linguistic system; therefore it is accessible to translation. Moreover, as a signature, wordplay is not only open to, but also requires the affirmative and contestatory countersignature of another language" (23).


4. Lisa Samuels and Jerome McGann, “Deformance and Interpretation,” New Literary History 30:1 (1999) 25–56.


This essay in many ways reads as a manifesto for deformative criticism. Samuels and McGann state at the beginning, “In this paper we want to propose—or recall—another way of enaging imaginative work. Perhaps as ancient as more normative practices, it has been less in vogue for some time. The alternative does not stand opposed to interpretive practices as such, nor to the elaboration of conceptual equivalents for modern work. But it does try to set these modes of exegesis on a new footing. The alternative moves to break beyond conceptual analysis into the kinds of knowledge involved in performative operations—a practice of everyday imaginative life. We will argue that concept-based interpretation, reading along thematic lines, is itself best understood as a particular type of performative and rhetorical operation” (26). The authors begin by turning to Emily Dickinson’s idea of reading a work backwards as a way to unleash a text’s possible meanings, which the authors refer to as “deformative criticism” (28). The first four parts of the essay aim to justify deformative criticism as an important mode of engaging with “imaginative work,” which the authors suggest by its very nature lends itself to such experimentation and play, and it can provide insight onto a work’s very nature as a made artifact (33). They also suggest that such criticism emphasizes the ways in which all acts of criticism and interpretation are essentially deformative, something which is often obscured by critical scholarship. The remainder of the essay is called “Examples and Experiments,” and Samuels and McGann here perform poetic deformation on two works by Wallace Stevens. They identify four types of deformation: 1) reordered; 2) isolating; 3) altering; and 4) adding (36–37). After they do a reordered deforming of a poem, they stress, “Deformance does want to show that the poem’s intelligibility is not a function of the interpretation, but that all interpretation is a function of the poem’s systemic intelligibility. Interpreting a poem after it has been deformed clarifies the secondary status of interpretation” (40). With this italicized comment, they put interpretation in its (proper) place.

5. Robert Grant Williams, “Reading the Parenthesis,” SubStance, 22:1 (1993): 53–66.



This essay explores the significance of parenthetical form as a “rhetorical figure.” Williams is particularly interested in its marginalization as an object of study in the interpretation of literature and in the manner in which literary handbooks treat it with short shrift. He writes, “By no means an infrequent rhetorical structure, the parenthesis exemplifies the marginalization of certain figures—primarily schemes—since not only has little been said about the parenthesis, but what has been said in literary handbooks sounds strikingly denigrating and dismissive. From the Renaissance to the present, value judgments have obfuscated the ways in which the parenthesis generates meaning, and often have wheedled themselves into definitions of this figure” (53). Williams proceeds to attempt to redeem it from its stigma. He considers its historical, semantic, and syntactical importance in various writings, and he also notes how this importance has failed to be recognized in various writings. The essay ends on an intriguing comment suggesting that the parenthesis’s marginalization might in some cases enable an authoritative handbook such as the OED to “preserve the illusion of an objective discourse,” as it is a figure that threatens the regime of authoritative textuality with spontaneity and freedom (66).

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