Signs of Change

Premodern - Modern - Postmodern

Edited by Stephen Barker

Subjects: Postmodernism
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Studies in Philosophy and Literature
Paperback : 9780791424346, 440 pages, February 1996
Hardcover : 9780791424339, 440 pages, March 1996

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Table of contents



I. Semantics/Semiotics/Hermeneutics

1. The Semiotics of Laughter
Ib Johansen

2. Silence and the Rehabilitation of Beauty: Twentieth Century German Perspectives on the Poet's Task
Erdmann Waniek

3. Postmodernism and the Scene of Theatre
Elinor Fuchs

4. Theoretical Invention and the Contingency of Critique: The Example of Postmodern Semiotics
John Johnston

II. Topography/Topology/Concretions of Change

5. From Wittgenstein's House to Morphosis: Deconstructing "Forms of Life"
Roger Bell

6. Nietzsche's Trees—And Where They Grow
Eva Geulen

7. A Misreading of Maps: The Politics of Cartography in Marxism and Poststructuralism
Bruno Bosteels

III. History/Historicity/Historiography

8. Speaking for Nothing: Michel de Certeau on Narrative and Historical Time
Michael Beehler [For Joseph Riddel]

9. The Revolution of a Trope: The Rise of the New Science and the Divestment of Rhetoric in the Seventeenth Century
Joseph Chaney

10. Memory, History, Discourse
Patrizia Calefato

IV. The Ends of History: Life/Death/(Dis)Closure

11. The Loss of Language within Imperial Liberalism: The United States' Political Structure as Differend
Steve Martinot

12. Spinning Ethics in Its Grave: Tradition and Rupture in the Theory of Roland Barthes
Sharon Meagher

13. Célan's Poetics of Address: How the Dead Resist Their History
James Hatley

V. Sexuality/Gender/Politics

14. A Union Forever Deferred: Sexual Politics After Lacan
Barbara Claire Freeman

15. Love and Reproduction: Plagiarism, Pornography, and Don Quixote's Abortions
Sylvia Söderlind

16. Writing the Body as Social Discourse: Prolegomena to Carnal Hermeneutics
Hwa Yol Jung

VI. Alterity as a Strategy of Change

17. The Intoxication of the Avant-Garde in Benjamin and Habermas
Soraya Tlatli

18. Foucault, Conventions, and New Historicism
David F. Bell

19. Irreconcilable Similarities: The Idea of Nonrepresentation
Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe

20. The Impossible Limit
Cynthia Pon




This is a collection of essays focusing on conventions of change in the arts, philosophy, and literature.


This book examines the nature of change in history, philosophy, and culture. Precisely because the idea of change is so vast, the book's strategy is to exercise some control over it by organizing itself as a structured progression of theoretical, political, and ideological concerns whose focus is on change.

Barker begins with the idea of history and historicity and proceeds through an investigation of the relationship of semiotics and hermeneutics to change, to topography and topology as functions of change, to sexuality and gender as political aspects of a hypothetical theory of change, and to the seemingly culminative issue of life and death themselves as functions of change. Finally, the book concludes with a "coda" concerning alterity both as concept and as lived and literary phenomenon ranging from the avant-garde's "drunkenness" to the alterity of the characters in Chinese poetry. Not only does the book not attempt to make categorical statements about the nature of change, but it delights in an open-ended discussion of the implications and reverberations of change throughout the world of human experience.

Stephen Barker is Associate Professor of Modern and Postmodern Literature and Theory at the University of California—Irvine. He is the author of Autoaesthetics: Strategies of the Self After Nietzsche and editor of Excavations and Their Objects: Freud's Colleciton of Antiquity, also published by SUNY Press.