Lit: sexual poetics of sanguine resistance

Turner, Lynn. 2020. 'Lit: sexual poetics of sanguine resistance'. In: 7th Derrida Today Conference. Aix-Marseille Université, Aix-en-Provence, France 10-13 June 2020. [Conference or Workshop Item] (Forthcoming)

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Abstract or Description

Derrida’s seminars on the death penalty have naturally spurred serious commentary in our community, including books from Peggy Kamuf, David Wills, and Elizabeth Rottenberg, an edited collection from Kelly Oliver, and essays by Gil Anidjar and others. While literature is prominent, since it sustains Derrida’s enquiry, both Rottenberg and an essay by Michael Naas bring the question of the death penalty to psychoanalysis and to Freud in particular and at length. That said, the astonishing ninth session of Death Penalty VII has received only passing attention (killing time, as it were, in Wills’ book of that title). The present paper seeks to bring that session to light, joining, as it does, literature with the death penalty with blood and with emancipated women.

Recalling that Derrida once mused that ‘there is always something sexual at stake in the resistance to deconstruction,’ that something takes perhaps its most unexpected form in the ninth session of Death Penalty VII. As with philosophy in his lament, psychoanalysis shows itself to be unable to oppose the death penalty. The literature evoked in relation to psychoanalysis is that of the emancipated women writers contemporary to Freud. Where Freud performs a slight of hand turning male anxiety regarding the blood flow of defloration into female resentment of a naturalized ‘genital deficiency’ and lands this once and for all time situation into its most clear demonstration in his present period, Derrida affirms that this constitutes a demonstration of a fundamentally different order. Diverging from Freud, Derrida aligns what he names the ‘original and irreplaceable role of literature in the feminist cause’ with the fact that it has been poets and writers generating abolitionist discourse – not philosophers ‘or even politicians’. He thereby links it with his own writing, the thought and the risk of writing in deconstruction in its broadest implication.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Additional Information:

Out of concern for the health and safety of delegates, the 7th Derrida Today Conference that was due to take place 10-13 June 2020 has been postponed until 2021 due to the rapid spread of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Papers and panel proposals accepted for the 2020 event, are pre-approved for the 2022 conference.

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


10 June 2020Accepted

Event Location:

Aix-Marseille Université, Aix-en-Provence, France

Date range:

10-13 June 2020

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

13 Feb 2020 11:13

Last Modified:

24 Jun 2021 15:52


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