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Thinking Through Tragedy and Comedy A Symposium on Performance Philosophy and the Future of Genre

Andrew Parker


Where theater has long been acknowledged as a matrix for psychoanalytic thinking (not least by Freud himself), Marxism has seldom if ever recognized itself in or as theater. A certain resistance to theatricality is even, perhaps, constitutive for all varieties of Marxist thought: in this respect, if in no other, Louis Althusser agrees entirely with the Young Marx, author of the unfinished play Oulanem.

Even so, allusions to and citations from Shakespeare run throughout Marx’s immense corpus, signaling both the prescience of Shakespeare’s “ideas” and Marx’s recognition of those ideas as harbingers of his own. A little known text from the 1860s, however, turns the tables on this pattern: Shakespeare here seems to speak through Marx rather than Marx through Shakespeare.

Andrew Parker is Professor of French and Director of Comparative Literature at Rutgers University. His most recent book is The Theorist’s Mother, which attends to traces of the maternal in the lives and works of canonical theorists from Marx and Freud to Lacan and Derrida. He is the editor and co-translator of Jacques Rancière’s The Philosopher and His Poor, and co-editor of five essay collections, including Performativity and Performance (with Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick), and After Sex? On Writing since Queer Theory (with Janet Halley).