Writing Feverlets*

Curious about her critique of Derrida’s Archive Fever, I picked up a
copy of Carolyn Steedman’s Dust: The Archive and Cultural History from
Bird Library, recalling it from another patron who had checked it out (v. sorry
about that). I deal briefly with AF in Chapter Three. Steedman
makes the point that AF is less about archives than about Derrida’s
concern for the slippage of origins (a theme in his other work) and the
inseparability of psychoanalysis from Freud (and also Judaism). She
writes, "The Foreword [to AF] carried the main argument, about Freud’s
Jewish-ness, and the contribution of Jewish thought to the idea of the archive,
via psycho-analysis" (7). Basically, Steedman is suspicious of Derrida’s
characterization of the fever (as a frenzied pursuit of origins which do not
properly exist). She complains that the concept of the fever is degraded in
translation from Mal d’Archive, and then she enthusiastically claims the
sickness Derrida mocks: "Archive fever, indeed? I can tell you all about
Archive Fever!" (17). Dust undertakes this "all about-ness" at fever’s pitch;
Steedman, all the while, works to correct (or tune, at the very least) Derrida’s
glancing consideration of the archive left behind in his treatment of other
concerns (psychoanalysis, Freud, and so on).

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In Action

Just before the fall semester convenes one month from now, my graduate
program will hold its annual Community Day event. The day-long event
includes faculty and grad student symposia, a lunch, a conversation with the new cohort of students,
and, in the evening, a potluck. The theme for this year’s event is
"Scholarship In Action," one of the hinge phrases in SU’s mission
statement. Scholarship In Action, as I understand it, is a positive
designation for scholarly activity undertaken in such a way that it circulates
broadly, intervening in the
world beyond the academy. Community engagement, boundary-spanning
initiatives, and participatory dynamics are entered into play. SIA complicates
traditional models of research. I’ve been asked to talk for ten minutes
about how the research I’m doing matches up with SIA, and so, largely because I
agreed to do it, I’ve been walking the perimeter, getting bearings on the phrase, tracing it back
through some of the references to it in recent campus discourse, keeping on the lookout for a eureka or
two.

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