Course code:



MA - Intermediate/Advanced

Class size limit:


Meets the following requirements:

  • HS - Human Studies

Lab fee:


Typically offered:

Once every three years

Algerian Jewish philosopher, Jacques Derrida (1930-2004), one of the most widely translated French philosophers of the 20th century, developed a body of work often referred to as “deconstruction.” Derrida’s oeuvre has influenced multiple fields and disciplines, including Literature, Anthropology, Philosophy, Postcolonial Studies, Psychoanalysis and Feminist Theory. This course will track some of the ways in which Derrida engaged with ideas of difference, through a focus on questions his work poses for understandings of the human. The class will engage with Derrida’s archive through reading some of his early work, including essays and interviews about the status of writing and speech, language, and philosophy, and then move through his later work, including his increasing focus on explicitly political topics such as the death penalty, the animal, sovereignty, and war. Although the texts we read will be primarily Derrida’s own writing, we will also read authors who respond to and build on Derrida’s thought. These may include Gayatri Spivak, Ranjana Khanna, Samir Haddad, Peggy Kamuf, and Michael Naas, as well as texts by those with whom Derrida was in dialogue, such as Sigmund Freud, Hélène Cixous, Michel Foucault, Sarah Kofman, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Karl Marx, Martin Heidegger and Emmanuel Levinas. As we move through Derrida’s texts and those informed by them, we will pay particular attention to questions about sexual difference, colonialism, the human, death in relation to life, and representation. Students will be evaluated on participation in seminar discussions, weekly reading responses, a mid-term paper and final paper.


There are no prerequisites for this course, but students will be expected to conduct close readings of challenging texts. Students are encouraged to contact the professor with any questions about the course and whether it is a good fit for them.

Always visit the Registrar's Office for the official course catalog and schedules.