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Picture of Declensions of the Self

Declensions of the Self

A Bestiary of Modernity

Editor(s): Jean-Jacques Defert, Trevor Tchir, Dan Webb
Contributors: jean-jacques defert, robert lee nichols, James Martell, Mavis Tseng, Trevor Tchir, Dan Webb, Gustav Arnold,

Book Description

This work is a collective reflection on the modern self as a narrative. Modernity as a metamorphic conglomeration of permeating discourses, new practices and institutional forms, a historical unfolding of centrifugal and centripetal discursive dynamics of regulation and normalization offers limitless grounds for a critical investigation. The modern self, both as the revelation of the inner self and as a reflection of the collective, arises from the dialogical interplay within the intersubjective communicative space of social discourse.

The bestiary proposed in this series of articles attempts to rethink the spectacle consisting of modern dichotomies by which the self is declined along ontological, metaphysical, and ethical premises: the real and the ideal, the said and the unsaid, the rational and the irrational, the bound and the free, the familiar and the exotic, the universal and the particular, self and world.

The reader is therefore encouraged to engage in a multiple reading of the articles presented in this collection. As individual scholarly pieces of inquiry, these articles provide thoughtful insights into the inexhaustible topic of modernity and the modern subject–they tell stories of the past, the present, and of a prospective future.

As academic works, however, they also reflect and/or unsettle disciplinary paradigms and scholarly practices, from which they acquire legitimacy and visibility; they conform, apply, reconfigure and/or experiment with new grounds by borrowing from an eclectic mix of various thinkers, their tools, and their axiomatic propositions that constitute their theoretical and critical apparatus.

This exercise is ultimately an introspective journey in which we are placed not only as the spectator–the one who gazes through the bars–but also the spectacle–the beast subject to the gaze–finding itself in a predicament of which the subject, itself, is the architect.


ISBN-13: 978-1-8471-8726-0
ISBN-10: 1-84718-726-9
Date of Publication: 01/09/2008
Pages / Size: 360 / A5
Price: £39.99


Jean-Jacques Defert is a PhD candidate in Modern Languages and Cultural Studies and Izaak Walton Killam scholar at the University of Alberta. His interests lie primarily in cultural metaphors and paradigms, phenomena of permeability and migrations between discursive fields, domains of knowledge and disciplines. First author of a forthcoming monograph “Récits du 19ème siècle: Structure et contenu historiographique au Canada” (Presses de l’Université Laval, 2009). Former publications include “Rethinking the Present – Archaeology of an Idea” (Kakanian, 2004).

Trevor Tchir is a PhD candidate in Political Theory at the University of Alberta. He is a Canadian Graduate Scholar and Izaak Walton Killam Scholar. His thesis focuses on Hannah Arendt’s theory of disclosure of the “who” in political action. His previous research at the University of Ottawa centered on Charles Taylor’s Best Account Principle and his expressive theory of language and reason.

Dan Webb is a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of Alberta. His interests lie primarily in the field of Continental political thought, and Frankfurt School Critical Theory. His most recent publication is entitled “If Adorno isn't the Devil, it's Because He's a Jew: Lyotard's Misreading of Adorno Through Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus” (forthcoming, Philosophy and Social Criticism 2008).