This book is very different from the one I set out to write several years ago. It is still an exploration and analysis of postmodernism, but now it also provides a detailed sketch of a theoretical alternative to it. At critical moments, Margaret Ferguson and Shekhar Pradhan helped me see what was implicit in what I was saying. My thanks to them for their attentive and thoughtful readings. The central ideas were worked out in my undergraduate and graduate seminars at Cornell, and I owe my students more than I can convey here. My thanks also to Dick Boyd, whose commitment to cross-disciplinary dialogue about cultural and political issues has been inspiring. I first presented the arguments of the final chapter in the form of lectures for our jointly taught course "The Politics of Knowledge and Interpretation"; the second half of that chapter is an attempt to convince Dick on a point where we disagreed (and now perhaps don't).
I want to thank Jonathan Arac, Donald Marshall, and John McGowan for their comments on earlier versions of the book. Biodun Jeyifo, Dominick LaCapra, Kenneth McClane, and Paul St. Pierre served as sounding boards for many of the arguments as they evolved; I thank them for their responses, and for their friendship over these years. Members of the Moral Theory Group at Cornell helped make many of my ideas concrete: I thank Carol Acree-Cavalier, David Alvarez, Amy Carroll, Caroline Hau, Mario Hernandez, Juan Mah y Busch, Sarah McGrath, Minh Nguyen, and Furaha Norton for their probing questions. My thanks also to Dionne Espinoza, Philip Lewis, David Lloyd, Lisa Lowe, Kavita Pan