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The Bad Habits of Critical Theory

The Bad Habits of Critical Theory Mari ruti Progressive critical theory--defined here loosely as a combination of poststructuralism, psychoanalysis, Marxism, and deconstructive feminist and queer theory--has been relentlessly dismissive of habits, particularly of habits of thought that organize social collectivities. Such habits have, often correctly, been aligned with outmoded traditions, ideological complacency, persistent inequalities, authoritarian governance, and the lack of imagination. Moreover, faithful to Nietzsche's proclamation that so-called "truths" are merely metaphors that have become habitual, that have managed to camouflage their fictitious origins, critical theory has meticulously questioned all taken-for-granted forms of meaning, action, and judgment; it has been so thoroughly suspicious of the propensity of ideas to congeal into rigid, lifeless configurations that it has rejected everything systematic and centralized, that is, everything that smacks of the habitual. This explains in part why the field has long been characterized by what Eve Sedgwick (2003) diagnosed as a paranoid hermeneutics of suspicion: an interpretative practice that distrusts the surface of things, actively digs for hegemonic intent, and flees from all surprises because the worst that could happen would be for the critic to be duped by ideology. This paranoid attitude--as Sedgwick herself emphasizes--has generated some of the most thrilling critical work of recent http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Comparatist University of North Carolina Press

The Bad Habits of Critical Theory

The Comparatist , Volume 40 – Nov 11, 2016

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © Southern Comparative Literature Association.
ISSN
1559-0887
Publisher site
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Abstract

Mari ruti Progressive critical theory--defined here loosely as a combination of poststructuralism, psychoanalysis, Marxism, and deconstructive feminist and queer theory--has been relentlessly dismissive of habits, particularly of habits of thought that organize social collectivities. Such habits have, often correctly, been aligned with outmoded traditions, ideological complacency, persistent inequalities, authoritarian governance, and the lack of imagination. Moreover, faithful to Nietzsche's proclamation that so-called "truths" are merely metaphors that have become habitual, that have managed to camouflage their fictitious origins, critical theory has meticulously questioned all taken-for-granted forms of meaning, action, and judgment; it has been so thoroughly suspicious of the propensity of ideas to congeal into rigid, lifeless configurations that it has rejected everything systematic and centralized, that is, everything that smacks of the habitual. This explains in part why the field has long been characterized by what Eve Sedgwick (2003) diagnosed as a paranoid hermeneutics of suspicion: an interpretative practice that distrusts the surface of things, actively digs for hegemonic intent, and flees from all surprises because the worst that could happen would be for the critic to be duped by ideology. This paranoid attitude--as Sedgwick herself emphasizes--has generated some of the most thrilling critical work of recent

Journal

The ComparatistUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Nov 11, 2016

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