[Humanist] 28.837 the rise of "just plain theory"

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Mar 20 07:14:59 CET 2015


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 28, No. 837.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org



        Date: Thu, 19 Mar 2015 07:57:11 -0500
        From: "Liddle, Dallas" <liddle at augsburg.edu>
        Subject: Re:  28.832 the rise of "just plain theory"
        In-Reply-To: <20150319063415.F158EAF6 at digitalhumanities.org>


A very intriguing suggestion of this piece--Bernard Dionysius Geoghegan, "From
Information Theory to French Theory: Jakobson, Levi-Strauss, and the
Cybernetic Apparatus." *Critical Inquiry* 38.1 (Autumn 2011), pp. 96-126--is
that one of the keys to the rise of "theory" might have been the now
almost-forgotten attempt in the 1950s to apply mathematical information
theory to linguistics and literary scholarship.

Geohegan tells a story I, for one, had never seen before about how a
concerted American push to spread cybernetic/information theory as a kind
of new global explanatory model (with government money; there was an
anti-Soviet agenda) among influential European thinkers got the attention
of a whole raft of important people inclucing Jakobson, Levi-Strauss, and
Lacan. They and then a wider circle--he names Barthes, Derrida, Deleuze and
Guattari, even Foucault--ultimately weren't persuaded by the cybernetics,
but were definitely turned on to the idea of this kind of ambitious global
modeling.

I would love to know if people more knowledgeable than I find his account
persuasive.

Best,
Dal

****************
Dallas Liddle, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Chair of English
Augsburg College
2211 Riverside Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55454
Office: 612 330 1295
Fax: 612 330 1699
liddle at augsburg.edu

On Thu, Mar 19, 2015 at 1:34 AM, Humanist Discussion Group <
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:

>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 28, No. 832.
>             Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                        www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                 Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>
>   [1]   From:    Gabriel Egan <mail at gabrielegan.com>
>  (16)
>         Subject: Re:  28.828 the rise of "just plain theory"?
>
>   [2]   From:    Rehberge MSU <rehberge at msu.edu>
>   (4)
>         Subject: Re:  28.828 the rise of "just plain theory"?
>
>
>
> --[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
>         Date: Wed, 18 Mar 2015 08:19:02 +0000
>         From: Gabriel Egan <mail at gabrielegan.com>
>         Subject: Re:  28.828 the rise of "just plain theory"?
>         In-Reply-To: <20150318062622.C638DC03 at digitalhumanities.org>
>
> Willard McCarty asks:
>
>  > My question is this: has anyone written fromu
>  > an historical perspective about why "just plain theory"
>  > (Culler's phrase) became so attractive when it did?
>
> I have. Influenced by Terry Eagleton's historical
> account of theory I argue that Paris 1968 is the
> key to the rise of theory in literary scholarship.
> The argument appears in "Chapter 3. Marx's Influence
> on Shakespeare Studies since 1968" in my book
> _Shakespeare and Marx_ (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
> 2004), especially pages 71-77. The book is available
> in Open Access form at
>
>    http://gabrielegan.com/publications/Egan2004a.pdf
>
> Regards
>
> Gabriel Egan
> De Montfort University
>
>
>
>
> --[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
>         Date: Wed, 18 Mar 2015 17:58:07 -0400
>         From: Rehberge MSU <rehberge at msu.edu>
>         Subject: Re:  28.828 the rise of "just plain theory"?
>         In-Reply-To: <20150318062622.C638DC03 at digitalhumanities.org>
>
>
> There is a nice volume by Peter Herman entitled 'historicizing theory’
>  The introduction can be found here
> https://www.sunypress.edu/pdf/60870.pdf   One primary point that I tend
> to agree with is that most histories of theory are not very historical and
> tend to follow the great men with great ideas approach as history.  There
> are a ton of histories of theory in it many guises.
>
> One excellent book on the history of theory is Robert Young’s
> ‘Postcolonialism’ which I think deftly and correctly ties the history of
> theory to colonialism.
>
> Best
>
> Dean






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