Dr. Donald J. Cross, Visiting Assistant Professor- Comparative Literature Department, SUNY Buffalo
Title: “Is Writing Dead? Hjelmslev between Deleuze and Derrida”
Abstract: Journalists, educators, and cultural commentators have already declared 2023 as the year that writing died. ChatGPT and similar artificial intelligence chatbots certainly renew the issue with concrete urgency, but the death of writing is not a new question. In Anti-Oedipus, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari reframe the history of civilization as the history of desire, and each of the three epochs into which they divide their libidinal history assigns writing a different function. In the third and final epoch, in capitalism, they allege that writing dies. I argue that this “death” offers an oblique but unmistakably critical commentary on the relevance of Jacques Derrida’s “grammatology.” To mark the death of writing in contemporary society, however, Deleuze and Guattari draw upon Louis Hjelmslev’s glossematics, that is to say, upon the same movement in linguistics upon which Derrida himself draws to support his claim, in Of Grammatology, that a certain epoch of writing has only just begun. How, exactly, does glossematics support these apparently opposing conclusions? Through this debate concerning the contemporary “death” of writing, in short, I read the encounter with Hjelmslev as a strategic site for grasping the convergences and divergences of Deleuze’s and Derrida’s respective projects at large.
Monday, March 20th at 17:30 in G-160 Seminar Room