Cixous, Derrida, and the Matter of Friendship
Imprint: Northwestern University Press
A capacious analysis of a legendary intellectual friendship and the material legacies it left behind
Over the course of their decades-long friendship, Hélène Cixous and Jacques Derrida assembled overlapping archives of written experiments and exchanges that document a shared interest in their literary afterlives. In this incisive account, Laura Hughes shows how pushing against the limits of writing and of life itself means not only imagining but manifesting a community of future readers.
Archival Afterlives: Cixous, Derrida, and the Matter of Friendship examines the embodied nature of literary creation, taking letters, fragments, notes, and other ephemera as objects of critical analysis and care. Combining close readings of key texts and previously unexamined archival materials, Hughes traces critical connections between Cixous and Derrida, between the theoretical and the autobiographical, and between life writing and its limits. In putting deconstruction into dialogue with new material analyses and archive studies, Archival Afterlives positions this historical and intellectual relationship as a lens through which to reexamine the legacy of critical theory itself.
Introduction: An Archived Friendship
Part I. Live Materials
1. Write in Pencil: Material Endurance from Cixous’s First to Derrida’s Last Work
2. Allow for Change: Material Contingencies on Free-Floating Ephemera
3. Create a Copy: Accumulations of Derrida’s Facsimile Drafts and Cixous’s “Book I Do Not Write”
Part II. Live Transmission
4. Share with Others: Handling Manuscripts between Friends
5. Dream On: Other Conversations
6. Return to the Scene: The Seminar as Virtual Archive
Conclusion: “Les Incorruptibles”
“This is without a doubt the most sustained study of Cixous and Derrida’s literary relationship. Laura Hughes pulls her reader into the process of working with their archival materials, drawing appropriately on their own reflections but also forging a strikingly original path.” —Peggy Kamuf, author of To Follow: The Wake of Jacques Derrida