theory@buffalo 18: Derrida Matters

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Because of his early silence on the issue, when Jacques Derrida is pressed concerning "the materialist text" in Positions (1971), his response might seem enigmatic: If "matter in this general economy designates . . . radical alterity," then "what [he] write[s] can be considered 'materialist.'" Far from absent, materiality will have been silently at work in Derrida, perhaps, from the beginning and in general. (Indeed, in 1971—the year of the interview—Derrida delivered a seminar at the École normale supérieure fulfilling the "Matter [matière]" rubric for the philosophy agrégation.) Even if, however, a certain material insistence can lead to a generalization of textuality in the deconstructive sense, Derrida at the same time warns that even materialism often organizes itself around a transcendental signified and therefore always risks amounting to another, more deeply entrenched because more apparently opposed, metaphysics. Such is the case, traditionally speaking, of realism or empiricism. The dividing line therefore lies neither between the ideal and the material nor, for that matter, between metaphysics and non-metaphysics. Accordingly, Derrida refuses to say that "the concept of matter is in and of itself either metaphysical or nonmetaphysical"; a question, rather, of singular configurations in an uneven history, it "depends upon the work to which it yields."1 theory@buffalo 18 invites manuscripts on this material work in Derrida.

Does the material relation evolve after this first interview, which takes place after several landmark publications but still early in Derrida's career? How is (im)materiality at work, for instance, in the trace, the signifier, language or idiom? in the historical or technological conditions for temporality? in the recent emphasis on survival and mortal life in Derrida's thinking? in sexual difference? How, in short, does deconstruction put matter to work? The editors of theory@buffalo's 18th volume seek papers that address the relation between materiality and ideality in the fields of ethics, theology, and politics in deconstructive thinking.

Submissions should be no more than 10,000 words, book reviews (on any topic) no more than 1,200. Please send all submissions electronically as a Word file to Donald Cross or Ajitpaul Mangat . Deadline for submissions is January 10, 2015.

Donald Cross and Ajitpaul Mangat
Department of Comparative Literature
638 Samuel Clemens Hall
State University of New York at Buffalo
Buffalo, NY 14260