Possessed by Poe: Reading Poe in an age of intellectual guilt

Cultural Values 5 (2):198-220 (2001)
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This essay enters the debate over the French appropriation of Poe not by seeking redress for the supposed political misdeeds of either Poe or the French, but rather, by addressing itself to the American response to the French reception of Poe. While American cultural studies critics in particular have sought to hold the French accountable for ignoring Poe's troubling biography — one in which the question of Poe's relationship to, and possible support of, antebellum slavery remains unanswered to this day — I argue that the important question of how we as critics situate ourselves in relation to material history is too often buried under a moralizing rhetoric of accountability. Following from, and extending, Jacques Derrida's notion of ‘speciality,’ I maintain that material history is itself a kind of conjuration that belies any strict distinction between the material and the immaterial. Against the demand for accountability, the notion of history‐as‐conjuration allows us to address questions of historical responsibility in a manner that circumvents the impulse to hold Poe accountable for his crimes’.



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The birth of tragedy.Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche - 1872 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Oscar Levy & William A. Haussmann.
Spectres de Marx. L'État de la dette, le travail du deuil et la nouvelle internationale.Jacques Derrida - 1996 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 186 (4):528-528.

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