THIS BOOK AND the ideas that it deals with are a product of postmodernism.The deconstruction of subjectivity in all its forms—from the post-Lacanian emphasis on the subversiveness of desire to the Foucauldian genealogies of disciplinary and sexual subjectivity—are definitively postmodern.Any list of the key postmodernist thinkers would invariably include Foucault, Kristeva, Irigaray, Virilio, and Deleuze and Guattari.Many of the others we have studied— Sedgwick, Butler, Mama, Spillers and Pfeil—take these figures as a reference point, deriving their own ideas either from their paradigms or from an analysis of their limitations.So postmodernism has been one of the unrevealed terms of our discussion from the start.
Now it is worth addressing postmodernism directly to begin some sort of overview of the theorisation of subjectivity as an historical event. As I will argue in the Conclusion, not enough attention has been paid to theories of the subject as a cultural/ historical artefact.Instead, virtual orthodoxies vie with one another for ascendancy in a debate whose imagined end is the definitive theory no one seems to actually believe in. Yet, for me, it is the fact that the debate has taken place, not its conclusions or eventual victors, that provides the best insight into the way we are.
What can the key theorists of the postmodern tell us about the subject? I will start by analysing two of the thinkers whose work put the term 'postmodernism' in the mainstream of intellectual