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Kafka and Derrida (deconstruction)

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  • his_assistants
    Hello, My name is Janet Lucas. I obtained my Ph.D. in 2003 and currently teach English Literature (modernism in particular) at the University of Toronto and
    Message 1 of 5 , May 26, 2005
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      Hello,

      My name is Janet Lucas. I obtained my Ph.D. in 2003 and currently
      teach English Literature (modernism in particular) at the University
      of Toronto and York University.

      My current research has led me to Kafka (I love his work and have all
      of major novels and short stories). Kafka's writing, particularly in
      The Castle and The Trial led me to Derrida. Derrida, at least in his
      earlier work, e.g., "Structure, Sign and Play...," "Differance" and
      Grammatology, focused on how while the structure was predicated upon a
      presence--a presence that would fix the play of meaning--it was in
      fact predicated upon an absence. This is played out (forgive the pun)
      in The Castle and The Trial. Kafka's writing reveals as a discourse
      predicated upon absence, though (and importantly), the characters
      unquestioningly believe in a 'presence,.' and it is precisely their
      belief that simultaneously enforces a presence while revealing its
      absence. Specifically, it is the constant 'play' of the characters in
      their acting in accordance with a presence that does not exist (but
      exists only to the extent that they believe it; and as such
      continually construct it)--something that a presence is supposed to
      limit--that The Castle and The Trial reveals the lack of a master
      signifier (the Law, God, etc.)

      My concern here is that I might be arguing a point that has already
      been made. If anyone can let me know, or has any ideas on the subject,
      please let me know.

      --
      Sincerely,

      Janet L. Lucas, Ph.D.
      University of Toronto
      York University
      e-mail: jlucas@...
      web: www.yorku.ca/jlucas
    • Richard Payton
      This is an interesting line of flight. I know J. Hillis Miller has written articles on Kafka and The Trial in something of a deconstructive vein -- maybe not
      Message 2 of 5 , May 26, 2005
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        This is an interesting line of flight. I know J. Hillis Miller has written
        articles on Kafka and The Trial in something of a deconstructive vein --
        maybe not this point exactly, but you may want to check them out anyway. I'm
        thinking in particular of:

        "(In)Felicitous Speech Acts in Kafka's The Trial" (in Tympanum 4, I believe)


        "Franz Kafka and the Metaphysics of Alienation" (in: The Tragic Vision and
        the Christian Faith, ed. N.A. Scott, Jr. Association Press, 1957, 281-305)

        If you haven't already, you may also want to take a look at _Kafka: Towards
        a Minor Literature_ by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (University of
        Minnesota Press, 1986). From the editorial description:

        "In this classic of critical thought, Deleuze and Guattari challenge
        conventional interpretations of Kafka's work. Instead of exploring
        preexisting categories or literary genres, they propose a concept of "minor
        literature"-the use of a major language that subverts it from within.
        Writing as a Jew in Prague, they contend, Kafka made German "take flight on
        a line of escape" and joyfully became a stranger within it. His work
        therefore serves as a model for understanding all critical language that
        must operate within the confines of the dominant language and culture."

        Regards,

        Richard
      • nicoleh7
        The article of J. Hillis Miller you mention is indeed in Tympanon 4 and can be read online at : http://www.usc.edu/dept/comp-lit/tympanum/4/miller.html Regards
        Message 3 of 5 , May 26, 2005
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          The article of J. Hillis Miller you mention is indeed in Tympanon 4
          and can be read online at :

          http://www.usc.edu/dept/comp-lit/tympanum/4/miller.html


          Regards
          Nicole




          --- In kafka-list@yahoogroups.com, "Richard Payton" <rlpayton@m...>
          wrote:
          > This is an interesting line of flight. I know J. Hillis Miller has
          written
          > articles on Kafka and The Trial in something of a deconstructive
          vein --
          > maybe not this point exactly, but you may want to check them out
          anyway. I'm
          > thinking in particular of:
          >
          > "(In)Felicitous Speech Acts in Kafka's The Trial" (in Tympanum 4, I
          believe)
          >
          >
          > "Franz Kafka and the Metaphysics of Alienation" (in: The Tragic
          Vision and
          > the Christian Faith, ed. N.A. Scott, Jr. Association Press, 1957,
          281-305)
          >
          > If you haven't already, you may also want to take a look at _Kafka:
          Towards
          > a Minor Literature_ by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari
          (University of
          > Minnesota Press, 1986). From the editorial description:
          >
          > "In this classic of critical thought, Deleuze and Guattari challenge
          > conventional interpretations of Kafka's work. Instead of exploring
          > preexisting categories or literary genres, they propose a concept
          of "minor
          > literature"-the use of a major language that subverts it from
          within.
          > Writing as a Jew in Prague, they contend, Kafka made German "take
          flight on
          > a line of escape" and joyfully became a stranger within it. His work
          > therefore serves as a model for understanding all critical language
          that
          > must operate within the confines of the dominant language and
          culture."
          >
          > Regards,
          >
          > Richard
        • nicoleh7
          Hi Janet What an intersting post ! I confess to not having read much of Derrida, getting (too?) easily irritated by what I experience as his pedantry. But the
          Message 4 of 5 , May 26, 2005
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            Hi Janet

            What an intersting post !
            I confess to not having read much of Derrida, getting (too?) easily
            irritated by what I experience as his pedantry.

            But the way you present his thesis about Kafka makes it fascinating !
            You must be an excellent teacher !

            For a totally different approach of The Trial, you might like to read
            Martha Robinson's article "The Law of the State in Kafka's The
            Trial" :

            http://www.law.utexas.edu/lpop/etext/lsf/robinson6.htm

            The author gives a lot of information about the legal system in the
            Austrian Empire at the time Kafka lived and contends that many
            elements in the Trial are a satire of it.

            When you have the time, please let us know how your research is going.

            Best
            Nicole




            --- In kafka-list@yahoogroups.com, "his_assistants"
            <his_assistants@y...> wrote:
            > Hello,
            >
            > My name is Janet Lucas. I obtained my Ph.D. in 2003 and currently
            > teach English Literature (modernism in particular) at the University
            > of Toronto and York University.
            >
            > My current research has led me to Kafka (I love his work and have
            all
            > of major novels and short stories). Kafka's writing, particularly
            in
            > The Castle and The Trial led me to Derrida. Derrida, at least in
            his
            > earlier work, e.g., "Structure, Sign and Play...," "Differance" and
            > Grammatology, focused on how while the structure was predicated
            upon a
            > presence--a presence that would fix the play of meaning--it was in
            > fact predicated upon an absence. This is played out (forgive the
            pun)
            > in The Castle and The Trial. Kafka's writing reveals as a discourse
            > predicated upon absence, though (and importantly), the characters
            > unquestioningly believe in a 'presence,.' and it is precisely their
            > belief that simultaneously enforces a presence while revealing its
            > absence. Specifically, it is the constant 'play' of the characters
            in
            > their acting in accordance with a presence that does not exist (but
            > exists only to the extent that they believe it; and as such
            > continually construct it)--something that a presence is supposed to
            > limit--that The Castle and The Trial reveals the lack of a master
            > signifier (the Law, God, etc.)
            >
            > My concern here is that I might be arguing a point that has already
            > been made. If anyone can let me know, or has any ideas on the
            subject,
            > please let me know.
            >
            > --
            > Sincerely,
            >
            > Janet L. Lucas, Ph.D.
            > University of Toronto
            > York University
            > e-mail: jlucas@y...
            > web: www.yorku.ca/jlucas
          • nicoleh7
            Hi group, For those of you who would be interested in the article of Martha Robinson I refer to in my previous post (see below) please note that the URL has
            Message 5 of 5 , May 27, 2005
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              Hi group,

              For those of you who would be interested in the article of Martha
              Robinson I refer to in my previous post (see below) please note that
              the URL has changed to :


              http://tarlton.law.utexas.edu/lpop/etext/lsf/robinson6.htm

              My apologies for not having checked the link before posting.

              Best
              Nicole



              --- In kafka-list@yahoogroups.com, "nicoleh7" <nicoleh7@y...> wrote:
              > Hi Janet
              >
              > What an intersting post !
              > I confess to not having read much of Derrida, getting (too?) easily
              > irritated by what I experience as his pedantry.
              >
              > But the way you present his thesis about Kafka makes it
              fascinating !
              > You must be an excellent teacher !
              >
              > For a totally different approach of The Trial, you might like to
              read
              > Martha Robinson's article "The Law of the State in Kafka's The
              > Trial" :
              >
              > http://www.law.utexas.edu/lpop/etext/lsf/robinson6.htm
              >
              > The author gives a lot of information about the legal system in the
              > Austrian Empire at the time Kafka lived and contends that many
              > elements in the Trial are a satire of it.
              >
              > When you have the time, please let us know how your research is
              going.
              >
              > Best
              > Nicole
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > --- In kafka-list@yahoogroups.com, "his_assistants"
              > <his_assistants@y...> wrote:
              > > Hello,
              > >
              > > My name is Janet Lucas. I obtained my Ph.D. in 2003 and currently
              > > teach English Literature (modernism in particular) at the
              University
              > > of Toronto and York University.
              > >
              > > My current research has led me to Kafka (I love his work and have
              > all
              > > of major novels and short stories). Kafka's writing,
              particularly
              > in
              > > The Castle and The Trial led me to Derrida. Derrida, at least in
              > his
              > > earlier work, e.g., "Structure, Sign and Play...," "Differance"
              and
              > > Grammatology, focused on how while the structure was predicated
              > upon a
              > > presence--a presence that would fix the play of meaning--it was in
              > > fact predicated upon an absence. This is played out (forgive the
              > pun)
              > > in The Castle and The Trial. Kafka's writing reveals as a
              discourse
              > > predicated upon absence, though (and importantly), the characters
              > > unquestioningly believe in a 'presence,.' and it is precisely
              their
              > > belief that simultaneously enforces a presence while revealing its
              > > absence. Specifically, it is the constant 'play' of the
              characters
              > in
              > > their acting in accordance with a presence that does not exist
              (but
              > > exists only to the extent that they believe it; and as such
              > > continually construct it)--something that a presence is supposed
              to
              > > limit--that The Castle and The Trial reveals the lack of a master
              > > signifier (the Law, God, etc.)
              > >
              > > My concern here is that I might be arguing a point that has
              already
              > > been made. If anyone can let me know, or has any ideas on the
              > subject,
              > > please let me know.
              > >
              > > --
              > > Sincerely,
              > >
              > > Janet L. Lucas, Ph.D.
              > > University of Toronto
              > > York University
              > > e-mail: jlucas@y...
              > > web: www.yorku.ca/jlucas
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