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Genus Envy: Nationalities, Identities, and the Performing Body of Work By Thomas F. C ...

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Genus Envy:


Rampant Flaccidity
or Notional Culture

Look on my works ye mighty and despair…

––Percy Bysshe Shelley (1818)1

Postmodernism makes others of us all. Shelley’s cautionary sonnet sounds the knell for his century’s triumphalist constructions of “culture” and “nation.” Though the twenty-first century might confidently assert its emergence from the primordial ooze of essentialism, historicism, and positivism, nonetheless, our times have stuck to the ancient fondness for classification. A recent essay discussing Derrida and Rosenzweig amplifies some of the contemporary concerns with the nomenclature of genre, period, and form:

Rosenzweig and Derrida seek to articulate and engage in a “history in an uncommon sense” as something else