Derrida on the Public Stage
Perspectives in Continental Philosophy
Published by: Fordham University Press
192 pages, 152.00 x 228.00 x 0.00 mm, 1 b/w illustrations
- ISBN: 9780823298402
- Published: October 2021
Class Acts examines two often neglected aspects of Jacques Derrida’s work as a philosopher, his public presentations at lectures and conferences and his teaching, along with the question of the “speech act” that links them. What, Michael Naas asks, is one doing when one speaks in public in these ways?
The book follows Derrida’s itinerary with regard to speech act theory across three public lectures, from 1971 to 1997, all given, for reasons the book seeks to explain, in Montreal. In these lectures, Derrida elaborated his critique of J. L. Austin and his own subsequent redefinition of speech act theory. The book then gives an overview of Derrida’s teaching career and his famous “seminar” presentations, along with his own explicit reflections on pedagogy and educational institutions beginning in the mid-1970s. Naas then shows through a reading of three recently published seminars—on life death, theory and practice, and forgiveness—just how Derrida the teacher interrogated and deployed speech act theory in his seminars. Whether in a conference hall or a classroom, Naas demonstrates, Derrida was always interested in the way spoken or written words might do more than simply communicate some meaning or intent but might give rise to something like an event. Class Acts bears witness to the possibility of such events in Derrida’s work as a pedagogue and a public intellectual.
“Class Acts is a masterful and highly engaging work that has much to teach readers of Derrida about the philosopher’s relation to speech act theory, his thinking of the event, and many other questions. At once elegant and playful, pedagogical yet attentive to the nuance and subtle turns in Derrida’s work, the book is itself a masterclass in deconstructive reading.” ~Katie Chenoweth, Princeton University
“Naas brings to this book an encyclopedic knowledge of Derrida’s immense corpus, which he conveys with his signature lucidity and modesty. Class Acts reflects all of these virtues in tracing Derrida’s abiding preoccupation with the nature of the speech act from the early 1970s to his death and linking this persistence to an understanding of Derrida’s pedagogy and the teaching of philosophy on two continents.” ~Andrew Parker, Rutgers University