"There are no ethics without the Other." --Jacques Derrida

The Theory research cluster brings together English Department faculty who make use of contemporary critical theory in an array of scholarly fields and modes of inquiry.

Our common concern is the question of ethics that has preoccupied poststructuralist and postmodernist theory since the 1980s. The ethical dilemmas that fuel our research pertain to the question of the Other, its (mis)recognition in textual representation, and the allied problems of social violence/exclusion that arise out of the normative hierarchies installed by binary modes of thought. Although poststructuralist theory may be said to be this cluster's shared discursive toolbox, participants variously deploy a loosely associated set of theoretical frameworks that includes psychoanalysis, feminism, performativity theory, queer theory, Marxism, semiotics, posthumanism, postcolonialism, cybernetics, and globalization theory. We recognize that these theories, in certain contexts, are only problematically compatible with each other. We assert, nevertheless, that the concept of theory, understood as a collection of critical modalities engaged in conceptual generalization and differentiation, permits a vital and necessary conversation across historical, cultural, ideological, and disciplinary boundaries. It is within the context of such a multimodal discussion that we seek to extend, as well as critique, the specific theoretical paradigms within and through which we each undertake research.

Our cluster provides a meeting point for the exchange of information among its contributors. We also intend the cluster to serve as a focal point for communicating with colleagues (in and outside English), students, and the general public.