Philosophy and Culture
"Crossroads of Philosophy and Cultural Studies: Body, Context, Performativity, Community"
J. Hillis Miller, University of California Irvine
I had wild Jack for a lover;
Though like a road
That men pass over
My body makes no moan
But sings on:
All things remain in God
W. B. Yeats, "Crazy Jane on God"
A fourth modern phenomenon announces itself in the fact that human action is understood and practiced as culture. Culture then becomes the realization of the highest values through the care and cultivation of man's highest goods. It belongs to the essence of culture, as such care, that it, in turn, takes itself into care and then becomes the politics of culture.
Martin Heidegger, "The Age of the World Picture"
"What about the materiality of the body, Judy."
Judith Butler, Bodies that Matter
There is no "the" body; there is no "the" sense of touch; there is no "the" res extensa.
Jean-Luc Nancy, Corpus
I begin by asking how one should read Yeats's lines in my first epigraph. Are they blatantly sexist, or are they an example of work by a male writer able to sympathize with, and represent from within, the immemorial bodily experience of women? Is such a transfer from a virile to a feminine point of view, or point of contact, even possible? Women's bodies have always been roads "that men pass over" on the way to somewhere else. Why does Crazy Jane's body nevertheless "sing on," rather than "making any moan," whether in anguished pain or in sexual ecstasy? Why is what her body sings the words, "All things remain in God"? What does Crazy Jane's ideology of the female body have to do with religion, with the Christian religion? I mean more specifically the Christian doctrine of the incarnation (Hoc est enim corpus meum), along with the Christian doctrine which holds that although sublunary things pass, like men passing over Crazy Jane's body, or like progress down a road, all those temporally moving things do not vanish. As Yeats says in ""Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen": "Man is in love and loves what vanishes, / What more is there to say?" (Yeats 208). All things, nevertheless, without exception, have "in God" a static permanence. They remain. All things remain in God.
Do Yeats's lines have a performative dimension? Are they a way of doing something with words, or are they just an imagined dramatic performance? What context, biographical, cultural, intertextual, or whatever, should govern my reading of what Crazy Jane says? When I read these lines do I join a community of other readers, past and present, which has read the lines in a way similar to my own reading, or is my reading necessarily solitary and idiosyncratic, sui generis? Which would be better, to be a singular reader or a member of a community of readers? To ask, as I just have asked, "Exactly what are body, context, performativity, and community?" is a properly philosophical question; at any rate, Western philosophers over the years have asked questions about these topics. These topics are also features of cultural studies, whether as questions or as taken-for-granted methodological presuppositions.
My title is a little misleading. It suggests that philosophy and cultural studies do, perhaps inevitably, meet at some crossroads or other, perhaps where the three roads meet in Sophocles's Oedipus the King. My hypothesis, however, is the reverse. As this brief paper will sketch out, my claim is that these days philosophy and cultural studies often, though of course not always, fail to connect. It is as though the scene of patricide, Oedipus's angry slaying of the stranger who is really his father, had never occurred. It never happened because Oedipus was too early or too late, counter-temporally, out of sync, in a contretemps, to reach the crossroads just when Laius did. The Oedipal slaying of philosophy by cultural studies has rarely taken place. This is because cultural studies has often, more or less deliberately, forgotten all about Western philosophy. Dead white males wrote almost all of Western philosophy, in any case. That forgetting, that non-event or non-encounter between philosophy and cultural studies, it might be argued, is a more effective parricide than the one Oedipus performed. This is because the practitioners of cultural studies can always say, "Plato or Aristotle; Descartes, Kant, or Hegel; Wittgenstein, Husserl, or Heidegger; Austin or Merleau-Ponty are not relevant to what I am trying to do. In any case, I am too busy mastering film noir, or popular music, or fashion magazines, or whatever, to have time for philosophy." One result of this implicit claim is that those working in cultural studies may sometimes be mystified, unknowingly, by unexamined philosophemes that go back to Aristotle and that have persisted in our culture down to Husserl, Heidegger, Levinas, Lacan, Deleuze and Guattari, and beyond. They are prisoners of just what they want to escape. Such ideological mystifications are not innocent. They can cause great harm and suffering. One example is an almost irresistible "intuitionism" that views the body as something taken for granted, something there to touch, something outside language, in no way a philosophical problem. This intuitionism may be the assumed ground of Western philosophy and of current cultural studies too. Everybody knows, and has always known, what is meant by the materiality of the body.
The possibility, of course, is that workers in cultural studies would gain much for their own enterprise from reading philosophy, just as philosophers who do not pay attention to cultural studies may miss some properly philosophical insights in the work cultural studies scholars do. Philosophers, for example, still tend a little too much (to speak ironically) to couch their enunciations as universal truths valid anywhere in the world at any time. They tend to forget history and cultural differences even when they are making pronouncements about history or culture. It is true, moreover, that most Western philosophy from Plato on down to Levinas has been written not just by men, but from what Derrida, speaking of Levinas, calls "a resolutely virile point of view . . . or point of contact . . . . Indeed, the touching touch of the caress is touching (without touching) on the untouchable as inviolable, and the one stroking is always masculine and the stroked one (the untouchable) feminine" (Derrida, On Touching 80). Can the caress be talked about from the point of view, or point of contact, of the feminine, the queer, or the lesbian? Judith Butler certainly tried to do something like that in Bodies that Matter. The cataclysmic blow that cultural studies in its feminist branch has directed at the Western tradition of virile philosophy has perhaps not touched many philosophers yet. It has been like a roundhouse punch that does not land. Male philosophers, Levinas for example, still go on imperturbably talking about the way "the feminine is the Other refractory to society" (Levinas, Totality and Infinity 265), and, implicitly, about Jehovah as an old man with a long gray beard.
Let me briefly indicate four interconnected realms where this missed encounter between philosophy and cultural studies happens as the failure of a happening. Each would require a long development to elucidate what is at stake in each failure to meet at the crossroads. From the perspective of philosophy, the failure is manifested in the way philosophy tends to go on making pronouncements about "universal Man." From the perspective of cultural studies, the missed encounter manifests itself as a reluctance, much of the time, to see that such concepts as community, context, performativity, and body are problems with a long philosophical history, not taken-for-granted answers or presuppositions on the solid basis of which empirical studies of culture, what Heidegger calls "taking care" of culture, can take place. The prevalent ideology of cultural studies tends to be a constructivist one. It sees culture, through iterative reinforcement, creating out of some passive residue or ground, such as the materiality of the body, the structures of power that determine our lives. That means things could be different. For example, the hegemony of heterosexualism could be undone. At the same time, somewhat paradoxically, this ideology presumes that as our culture is so will we be. Circumambient culture has more or less irresistible power to make me what I am.
That we more or less know already what a normative community is tends to be assumed in such discussions of community as Benedict Anderson's Imagined Communities and Raymond Williams's The Country and the City. A long philosophical tradition, however, going back to Aristotle's Politics, Plato's Republic, and down to recent work by Bataille, Blanchot, Agamben, Lingis, and Nancy (see Works Cited), views or feels the question of community as a big problem, a problem demanding virtually interminable reflection. Nancy alone has written three difficult books trying to work out what he thinks about community. This contemporary philosophical tradition is rarely mentioned or seriously confronted by practitioners of cultural studies.
Much cultural studies tends to assume that context is determining, even though cultural artifacts are sometimes granted power to generate, or even to put in question, context. As my cultural context is, so will I, and all my works, be. The power of the New Historicism was, on the basis of this assumption, to describe dazzlingly some more or less obscure feature of popular culture, often British Renaissance culture, and then to assert that this feature explained some piece of high culture, for example Shakespeare's King Lear. Philosophy, on the contrary, tends to think of the transfer from circumambient cultural context to cultural artifact as a big mystery. That transfer is something extremely difficult to demonstrate persuasively and empirically. A notorious example is Derrida's "Signature Event Context," in which Derrida argues, against Austin and Searle, that the "context" of a performative utterance can never be "saturated (saturé)" (Derrida, Limited Inc. 20). As a result, the "felicity" of a performative speech act, such as the minister's "I pronounce you man and wife," can never be firmly known, predicted, or confirmed.
Much confusion in cultural studies has been caused, in my view, by an incautious conflation of "performative" in the sense of a speech act and "performative" in the sense of "performativity." This confusion can be seen or felt in the widely practiced discipline of "performance studies," or in Butler's widely influential claim that an individual's "sex" is a result of iterated "performances" of culturally determined, power-imposed ideas about masculinity or femininity. It is important not to confuse kinds. We must, as Wikipedia puts it, "disambiguate." I contend that "performativity" in the sense of the way a dance, a musical composition, or a part in a play is performed has practically nothing to do with "performativity" in the sense of the way a given enunciation can function as a performative speech act. "He gave a spectacular performance of Hamlet" does not exemplify, nor does it refer to, the same use of language as does saying, "He gave his solemn promise that he would be here at ten," even though both are forms of enunciation, of speaking out, even of doing something with words. Though Austin's deplorable misogyny is evident everywhere in How To Do Things With Words, people in performance studies need to grit their teeth, return to the source, and see what Austin actually said about, for example, performances on the stage. He saw such performances as devoid of performative force (Austin 22). This is a huge subject. Amazon.com gives 456 results under "Performativity and Performance." The introduction by Andrew Parker and Eve Sedgwick to the English Institute volume on Performativity and Performance begins by distinguishing sharply between performativity as applied to speech acts and performativity in the theater: "For while philosophy and theater now share 'performative' as a common lexical item, the term has hardly come to mean 'the same thing' for each" (Parker and Sedgwick 3). By the end of the essay, however, after a subtle and penetrating discussion of how one can go beyond Austin in the direction of queer theory, Parker and Sedgwick give their blessing to the appropriation of the term "performative" for theatrical and other performance studies: "Arguably," they say, "it's the aptitude of the explicit performative for mobilizing such transformative effects on interlocutory space [they've just been discussing Charlotte's great speech to the Prince early in Henry James's The Golden Bowl] that makes it almost irresistible—in the face of a lot of discouragement from Austin himself—to associate it with theatrical performance" (Parker and Sedgwick 11). I suggest that one ought to resist. It is important to resist.
The materiality of the body, finally, tends to be taken for granted by those in cultural studies, as for example in that citation I began with from Butler's Bodies that Matter. She is citing a common protest from women in her audiences when she gave lectures on the body. Everybody, these women assumed, knows what is meant by the materiality of the body. It is just my too too solid flesh right here. Appealing to it deictically, or with a touch of the forefinger or the foot, as when Samuel Johnson kicked the stone to disprove Berkeley's idealism, is taken as an irrefutable refutation of any claim that it is "all language," as so-called deconstruction is, falsely, assumed to say. Almost innumerable books and essays in recent decades have contained the word "body" in their titles. Amazon.com gives 428,366 results. That boggles or googles the mind. The methodological references in such works are more likely to be medical or psychoanalytical, specifically Lacanian, than properly philosophical. Some such works display the word "body" on their title pages like a flag of allegiance, a talisman, or a shibboleth: "I am not a deconstructionist. Heaven forfend." Others stage an encounter, or at least a touch, a tangent, sometimes a "touch without touching," a glancing blow, between philosophy and cultural studies, for example a response by Gayatri Spivak to a preliminary version of Nancy's Corpus in a collection edited by Juliet MacCannell and Laura Zakarin called Thinking Bodies.
One of the earliest of such books was Jean H. Hagstrum's The Romantic Body: Love and Sexuality in Keats, Wordsworth, and Blake. Since this essay appears in the Romantic Circles Praxis Series, it is appropriate to say a word or two about Hagstrum's fine book. Discussing the major romantic poets by way of love, sexuality, and the body was relatively unusual in 1985, so it took some courage then to focus on these topics. Moreover, Hagstrum's pioneering, learned, and intellectually generous book initiated the tradition I am identifying of more or less taking the body for granted. The Romantic Body is hardly a "feminist" book. It is written, for the most part, from a resolutely and unashamedly virile perspective, though with some proto-feminist due respect for women's sexual experience, as in the discussion of Blake's Oothoon. Yet The Romantic Body helped establish the program for all those subsequent books about the body, including many central texts in feminism or in queer studies.
Hagstrum begins by firmly distinguishing his stance from that of Paul de Man. He cites a remark Patricia Spacks had made about Hagstrum's own previous book on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century love, Sex and Sensibility, a book preliminary to The Romantic Body: "'If you want to talk about men [sic!],' Paul de Man remarked at the English Institute, 'you're in the wrong field. We talk about letters.' Hagstrum talks about men and women and their representations" (Hagstrum viii). Hagstrum goes on firmly to confirm that allegiance: "I am confident that the frequent glances I make in the ensuing pages to authors' lives predispose us to respond to zones of verbal energy and do not finally divert attention from the proper locus of critical attention, the work itself. That work I find to be best when its mythic beings and events convey real experience within fictional, rhetorical, and verbal structures" (Hagstrum ix-x). You can see that the backlash against "deconstruction" was already in full swing in 1985, just two years after de Man's death. Hagstrum returns, somewhat defiantly, pace de Man, to a straightforwardly mimetic and referential concept of literature, to the notion that good literature "conveys real experience," that words have "energy," and to the notion that literature is based on the "real experience" of the author. That means biographical data may always be relevant. The real experience registered by Wordsworth, Keats, and Blake and discussed by Hagstrum is not so much of the body as such—primarily the female body from a male perspective—as of what is named in the subtitle: "love and sexuality in Keats, Wordsworth, and Blake," that is, the female body as an object of male sexual desire, though occasionally the male body as an object of female desire. Hagstrum also reproduces and discusses some Romantic graphic works of nude and clothed females, by Henry Fuseli, James Barry, William Etty, and of course Blake. He specifies, for example, whether the pudenda are exposed or veiled in each of his examples. The Romantic Body is primarily a thematic and paraphrastic book about sex in work by three poets. It is primarily about the heterosexual sex act, or the desire for it, although due attention is given to sex's idealizing, transcendentalizing, or politicizing by the poets in question. Hagstrum asserts in one place, for example, that for Blake "what poisoned sexuality was not the body itself, desire per se" (Hagstrum 121), as though the body and sexual desire were the same thing. He asserts in another place, wrongly if Derrida is right, that to "give primacy and beauty to the sense of touch," as Blake does, is an alteration of "traditional psychology" (Hagstrum 115; Derrida's On Touching—Jean-Luc Nancy is devoted to showing that touch is primary, from Aristotle to Nancy). A brief coda by Hagstrum, "Philosophical Epilogue: Nature and Imagination," does indeed discuss some philosophers: Diderot, Archibald Alison, Thomas Holcroft, Kant, Hegel, Schiller, and Schopenhauer, though primarily to find the last four "deficient" (Hagstrum149) and male chauvinist. They are deficient because they pay scant attention to sexuality in the way it was celebrated by Keats, Wordsworth, and Blake, that is, as a give and take between the sexes that involves both Eros and Agape. The close attention to what major philosophers actually say about the body never occurs in Hagstrum's book in anything like the way it occurs in Derrida's close readings of philosophers in On Touching. The body never becomes a challenging philosophical or theoretical problem in Hagstrum's book, in spite of his careful attention to Blake's sexual theories. By saying that Hagstrum tends to take the body for granted, I mean that like most, but not all of the authors of the recent books about the body I have listed in my bibliography, he does not draw himself up, as Nancy and Derrida do, and ask, "Just what is 'the body'? How can I ever be sure that I know it, or make contact with it, or touch it? What do the major Western philosophers have to say about the body and about touch?"
For the philosophical tradition, on the contrary, the body, from Aristotle all the way through Merleau-Ponty to the present, is an enigmatic problem, not a solution, perhaps not even a problem amenable to rational elucidation. Embodiment, incarnation, or incorporation, is, moreover, not detachable, in our Western culture, from its theological roots. Hoc est enim corpus meum, "This is truly my body," said Jesus, in the Latin Vulgate version, when he broke bread at the Last Supper.
Some idea of the issues involved can be obtained from Jean-Luc Nancy's Corpus and Derrida's aforementioned On Touching—Jean-Luc Nancy, although these two books are by no means singing exactly the same tune about the problem of the body. Derrida's book reads notions of touch in texts from Aristotle's De Anima down through Kant, Maine de Biran, Ravaisson, and Hegel to Bergson, Merleau-Ponty, Deleuze and Guattari, Levinas, and Nancy himself. "For that which touches on it [touch] or that about which one speaks in speaking of touch is also the intangible," says Derrida. "To touch with tact is to touch without touching that which does not let itself be touched: to embrace eyes, in a word (or in several words, and the word ["embrace," embrasser in French, which means "kiss"] always brings to your ear the modest reserve of a kiss on the mouth). To touch as tact is, thanks to you, because of you [i.e., Nancy], to break with immediacy, with the immediate given wrongly associated with touch and on which all bets are always placed, as on self-presence, by transcendental idealism (Kantian or Husserlian intuitionism) or by ontology, the thinking of the presence of being or of being-there as such in its Being [the reference is to Heidegger], the thinking of the body proper or of flesh [as in all those present-day feminist appeals to the 'materiality of the body,' as well as in discussions in the male philosophical tradition, recapitulated by Derrida, of the 'body proper' or of flesh (Leib)]" (Derrida, On Touching 292-293). "The" "central thesis" of On Touching, if I may put it that way, which Derrida explicitly forbids me to do, is the untouchability of the heart of touch, the possibility/impossibility both of touching itself, either of touching oneself or of touching another presumed body or embodied person, and, as a result, the impossibility of talking or writing directly and unequivocally about touch or about the body. You cannot touch touch. An interval, interruption, or spacing, that cannot itself be touched, any more than can the object of touch, or the limit of touch, always intervenes between my finger and what I reach out to touch, as in the old telephone ad, "Reach out and touch someone." "What is a contact," Derrida asks, "if it always intervenes between two x's? [intervient toujours entre deux x]" (Derrida, On Touching 2, trans. modified). In another place Derrida makes clear that he thinks our ordinary assumptions about the body are culturally specific, but have been around a long time, though they are extremely problematic: "And so it is our very old habit in this or that historical culture, 'at home' [chez nous] in the West, to make use of these terms (the 'logic' and 'arithmetic' of the five senses, and so forth) so as to adjust them more or less well [tant bien que mal] (and often not very well at all, as we are experiencing it here, and that is all of philosophy) to suit some pretended [alléguées] ontophenomenological evidence in 'our body.' Empirical ontophenomenology + historical legacy + language of a culture: perhaps this makes a common habit, a way of being social, a praxis, a pragmatics, a consciousness, and so forth" (Derrida, On Touching 106-7, trans. modified).
I do not say that it is necessary to agree with Derrida or with Nancy. Far from it. I am arguing, rather, that those in cultural studies would do well to take into account the challenge Nancy and Derrida, in different ways, pose to the "intuitionist" tradition. This tradition, from Aristotle to the present day, tends to take for granted "the materiality of the body."
I conclude that both cultural studies and philosophy would be doing their different tasks better if more meetings, however Oedipal or Judith-like (I mean like Judith in the Biblical story of Judith and Holofernes), had occurred or were to occur, at that crossroads or at that mountain pass.
2 Here are a few other representative book titles: The Body in Pain; Writing and the Body; Body Politics; Bodies that Matter; Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud; Victorian Literature and the Anorexic Body; Body Work; Slave to the Body; Scripting the Black Masculine Body; Politics of the Female Body; The New Our Bodies, Ourselves: A Book By and For Women. One section of a recent issue of Wired (January 2007) is called Beyond the Body: The Science of Human Enhancement.
A panel at the Modernist Studies Association meeting in October 2006 was entitled "The Avant-Garde Body." Below is the call for papers for that panel. I cite it because it gathers together in a few sentences received opinions within cultural studies about the body, including a tacit taking for granted of the more or less unproblematic materiality of the body:
Avant-garde art, performance, and theory of the early twentieth century portrayed the body as an entity to be molded, manipulated, and even transcended. Fused with machines, fashioned à la mode, or compressed into geometric shapes, avant-garde bodies functioned in the promotion of new social orders and visual forms. Yet many avant-gardists also regarded the body suspiciously, as a vestige of the natural world that remained resistant to aesthetic and political transformation. Such negotiations between the ideal and the reality of the body are the focal point of this panel. By redefining the body's role within avant-garde production and rhetoric, this panel will open up new ways of theorizing the social discourse of the body; explore the historical deprivileging of groups commonly associated with the body; and examine the body's function as an interdisciplinary site upon which visual, physical, and political culture converged during this period. We invite papers on avant-garde art, theater, literature, photography and film that consider some of the following questions: How has the dynamism of the live body worked with and against static or non-visual art forms? What role does the body play in styles that would seem to obfuscate or obliterate its presence (such as abstraction)? How did avant-garde figures construe the relation between the individual body and the body politic? How has the body served as a tool of (or a hindrance to) political and social cultural change? How has it been utilized to express attitudes towards gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality and class?
As you can see, almost everything is up for grabs in this call for papers except the question of what we mean by the materiality of the body. That is taken for granted as a given, on the basis of which all these further investigations will be carried out.
3 The King James translation drops the enim and just says, "This is my body" (Matt. 26:26). I suppose this may have been to bypass controversies about whether the Eucharist is a matter of transubstantiation, consubstantiation, or just as symbolic remembrance (as I was taught). If Jesus really said, in Aramaic, something like, "This is really, truly, my body," it is difficult to hold that he meant anything other than transubstantiation.
4 In a forthcoming essay, "Touching Derrida Touching Nancy," I have attempted, among other things, to identify what is at stake in the differences between Nancy and Derrida on the questions of touch and the body.
5 In the deuterocanonical Book of Judith, the Assyrian army is camped just outside the mountain pass leading to the besieged Jewish city of Bethulia. Judith entices the invading Assyrian General, Holofernes, in his tent, gets him drunk, and then beheads him with his own sword, thereby saving Bethulia and becoming a great heroine in Jewish history (Judith 12:12-20; 13:1-19).
Agamben, Giorgio. La comunità che viene. Turin: Einaudi, 1990.
---. The Coming Community. Trans. Michael Hardt. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993.
Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities. London: Verso, 1983.
Austin, J. L. How to Do Thngs with Words. 2nd ed. Ed. J. O. Urmson and Marina Sbisà. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980.
Bataille, Georges. L'Apprenti Sorcier du cercle communiste démocratique à Acéphale: textes, lettres et documents (1932-1939). Ed. Marina Galletti. Notes trans. from Italian by Natália Vital. Paris: Éditions de la Différence, 1999.
Blanchot, Maurice. La communauté inavouable. Paris: Minuit, 1983.
---. The Inavowable Community. Trans. Pierre Joris. Barrytown, NY: Station Hill Press, 1988.
Boston Women's Health Book Collective. The New Our Bodies, Ourselves: A Book By and For Women. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992.
Brooks, Peter. Body Work: Objects of Desire in Modern Narrative. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993.
Butler, Judith. Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex." New York and London: Routledge, 1993.
Davis, Joshua, et al. "Beyond the Body: The Science of Human Enhancement." Wired (January 2007). 124-41.
Derrida, Jacques. Limited Inc. Trans. Samuel Weber and Jeffrey Mehlman. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1988.
---. Limited Inc. Presentation and trans. Elisabeth Weber. Paris: Galilée, 1990.
---. Le toucher, Jean-Luc Nancy. Paris: Galilée, 2000.
---. On Touching-Jean-Luc Nancy. Trans. Christine Irizarry. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005.
Hagstrum, Jean H. The Romantic Body: Love and Sexuality in Keats, Wordsworth, and Blake. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1985.
Henley, Nancy. Body Politics: Power, Sex and Nonverbal Communication. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1977.
Jackson, Ronald L. II. Scripting the Black Masculine Body: Identity, Discourse, and Racial Politics in Popular Media. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006.
Josipovici, Gabriel. Writing and the Body. The Northcliffe Lectures, 1981. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982.
Katrak, Ketu H. Politics of the Female Body: Postcolonial Writers of the Third World. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2006.
Laqueur, Thomas Walter. Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992.
Levinas, Emmanuel. Totalité et infini: Essai sur l'extériorité. The Hague: Nijhoff, 1961.
---. Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority. Trans. Alphonso Lingis. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1969.
Lingis, Alphonso. The Community of Those Who Have Nothing in Common. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994.
MacCannell, Juliet and Zakarin, Laura, eds. Thinking Bodies. Irvine Studies in the Humanities. Robert Folkenflik, General Editor. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994.
Miller, J. Hillis. "Performativity as Performance/Performativity as Speech Act: Derrida's Special Theory of Performativity." South Atlantic Quarterly 106.2 (Spring 2006). 219-35.
Nancy, Jean-Luc. La communauté désoeuvrée. Paris: Christian Bourgois, 1986.
---. The Inoperative Community. Ed. Peter Connor. Trans. Peter Connor, Lisa Garbus, Michael Holland, and Simona Sawhney. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991.
---. Être singulier pluriel. Paris: Galilée, 1996.
---. Being Singular Plural. Trans. Robert D. Richardson and Anne E. O'Byrne. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000.
---. La Communauté affrontée. Paris: Galilée, 2001.
---. Corpus. Paris: Éditions Métailié, 2006.
Parker, Andrew, and Sedgwick, Eve. "Introduction: Performativity and Performance." Performativity and Performance. Ed. Andrew Parker and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. Essays from the English Institute. New York: Routledge, 1995.
Scarry, Elaine. The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.
Schroeder, Lars. Slave to the Body: Black Bodies, White No-Bodies, and the Regulative Dualism of Body-Politics in the Old South. Frankfurt am Main; New York: Peter Lang, 2003.
Silver, Anna Krugovoy. Victorian Literature and the Anorexic Body. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Williams, Raymond. The Country and the City. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975.
Yeats, William Butler. The Poems: A New Edition. Ed. Richard J. Finneran. New York: Macmillan, 1983.