Prof. Herman Rapaport talk, “The Heimat Variations,” on March 31

The Wake Forest University Departments of English and Philosophy present “The Heimat Variations,” a lecture by Reynolds Professor of English Herman Rapaport on Thursday, March 31, 2022, at 5 p.m. in DeTamble Auditorium (Tribble A110). 
Rapaport’s talk will address his last book, Derrida on Exile and the Nation (Bloomsbury 2021), which is an exegesis of Derrida’s Fantom of the Other seminar (1984-85). At issue will be Derrida’s reading of Heidegger in a series of lectures devoted to “Language in the Poem” in On the Way to Language. The aim of the talk is to orient us to what on Derrida’s part was a very ambitious foray into later Heidegger. “Language in the Poem” on Georg Trakl is one of Heidegger’s more difficult essays. Derrida never published his commentary, though he announced its publication back in 1985 as forthcoming.   
Image of Herman Rapaport's book, Derrida on Exile and the Nation: Reading Fantom of the Other. White text on an abstract textured blue background
About Derrida on Exile and the Nation

Providing crucial scholarship on Derrida’s first series of lectures from the Nationality and Philosophical Nationalism cycle, Herman Rapaport brings all 13 parts of the Fantom of the Other series (1984-85) to our critical attention. The series, Rapaport argues, was seminal in laying the foundations for the courses given, and ideas explored, by Derrida over the next twenty years. It is in this vein that the full explication of Derrida’s lectures is done, breathing life into the foundational lecture series which has not yet been published in its entirety in English.

Derrida’s examination of a master signifier of the social relation, Geschlecht, acts as the critical entry point of the series into wide-ranging meditations on the social construction and deconstruction of all possible relations denoted by the core concept, including race, gender, sex, and family. The lecture series’ vast engagement with a range of major thinkers, including philosophers and poets alike – Arendt, Adorno, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Trakl, and Adonis – tackles core themes and debates about philosophical nationalism. Presenting Derrida’s lectures on the implications of key 20th century philosopher’s understandings of nationalism as they relate to concerns over idiomatic language, notions of race, exile, return, and social relations, adds richly to the literature on Derrida and reveals the potential for further application of his work to current polarising debates between universalism and tribalism.


“Herman Rapaport provides a masterful introduction to the later Derrida by focusing on one unpublished seminar that he annotates systematically, investigating the loaded links between national languages and philosophy, gender, sexuality, and identity, and the struggle between democracy and totalitarianism. Can we use Heidegger against himself in order to deconstruct racism, identity politics and nationalism?” ―Jean-Michel Rabaté, Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania

“This book is a close analysis of Jacques Derrida’s late work, namely his (still largely unpublished) lectures on race, gender, and nationality—a study of Derrida as a social and political thinker who addresses our responsibilities toward the other, especially during periods of national conflict and social unrest. Rapaport has given us not only a new understanding of Derrida but also a beautifully written tract for our times.” ―Gerald Bruns, William P. & Hazel B. White Professor Emeritus of English, University of Notre Dame, USA

“In Derrida on Exile and the Nation, Herman Rapaport extends his pathbreaking, singular commentary on Derrida with characteristic rigor, erudition and imagination. Rapaport illuminates and augments Derrida’s lessons on the dangerously concrete irreality of origin and the brutal histories that accompany the sexualization, racialization, nationalization and conceptualization of the human. Does cosmopolitanism challenge or secure that brutality? Is exile a flight from that also tends to bear a turn toward brutality’s seductions? In his lectures on the “Fantom of the Other,” Derrida addresses these questions, enacting a deepening swerve in his work that Rapaport carefully attends. The kind of thinking this book both practices and studies has never been more urgently needed.” ―Fred Moten, Professor, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University, USA

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