Derrida and Lacan Course Description

This course contemplates a number of the important contributions that Jacques Derrida and Jacques Lacan have made to contemporary rhetorical theory, including the wide-ranging implications of their distinct but often complimentary critiques of the structure and operations of the sign, as well as each thinker’s (changing) views on subjectivity.  Owing to the character of seminars in general, and the challenge to mastery each thinker advances in particular, students should abandon any pretense to virtuosity.  This course is intended as an introduction and provocation for further exploration of the ideas and concepts developed by Derrida and Lacan on your own.

Course Policies

Attendance:  Attendance is a precondition of satisfactory participation in this course—including those who are only auditing.  For every 2 days missed, 10% will be subtracted from your total possible points earned.

Auditing: A limited number of auditors are welcome provided Diane or Josh gives you the “ok.”  Because of room size restrictions, auditors will tele-pate, or participate via Skype or similar interface, in an adjoining room.  Questions and discussion time should be reserved for those students enduring the burden of tuition; however, auditors are encouraged to interject or contribute after class during “happy hour.”  Very often after class many of us will retire to the Hole in the Wall, which is an opportunity for everyone to continue the discussion and socialize in the same space (not required).

Special Needs: If you have a disability that hinders your ability to perform your best in this course without special attention, please contact Josh or Diane as soon as possible.  Every effort will be made to accommodate your needs. Please note there is no official accommodation for being late to class, and none will be made.  For an accommodation other than excusing lateness, you must invoke your right to accommodations in person with Diane or Josh during office hours or by arrangement, accompanied by a letter from the SSD. It is important to note that students with disabilities may request appropriate academic accommodations from the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Services for Students with Disabilities, 471-6259.

Guidelines for Graded Projects:  We assume that all of your work for this course is original and not borrowed, and this is inclusive of using material from past classes (working on a project that spans multiple courses, however, is different).  Do not turn in a response or paper, for example, which contains large chunks of a previous paper!  Reading responses should be typed, double-spaced, with one-inch margins, and utilize a 12-point font.  One-pagers are a bit more flexible. All pages should be numbered and stapled together (or binder-clipped).  We will not accept work that is clipped or in fancy folders and whatnot. DO NOT USE PAPER CLIPS!

Your work should be grammatically correct and proofread.  You must document your work in accord with MLA or Chicago Footnote style!  NO APA is allowed! Papers  and reading responses incorrectly documented will not be graded; if you do not own a style manual you should purchase one.

A Note on Plagiarism

This hard-to-spell term refers to the theft of words, ideas, or test answers of another person and is an extremely serious violation of academic ethics.  The most common kind of plagiarism involves the theft of essays or parts of essays from the Internet. Copying or “cut-and-pasting” material from any source without acknowledging the author is someone other than yourself is wrong and academically dishonest.  Dishonesty also occurs when you submit papers or parts of papers you have written for other courses for the present course.  Dishonesty also includes collaboration on course assignments without the instructor’s approval.

If you are caught being dishonest, you will be given an “F” for the course.

To avoid getting into trouble for academic dishonesty, we urge you to visit the following websites and read-up:


Please understand we do not tolerate plagiarism and will fail you for it, even if your plagiarism is unintentional.   In graduate courses, any instance of plagiarism, whether intentional or unintentional, will result in an F for the course.  Do not pass go.  Do not collect an F for just the assignment.  No, you go directly the course pokey of F-ville.

On Cursing: You can curse an idea or embellish an expression, but do not curse your fellow classmates.

Late Papers: No late papers will be accepted.  Acts of God/Goa/Nature/Alien Slave Masters may find exception.

Incompletes:  Insofar as this seminar will not be offered again, an incomplete will not be allowed; withdrawals are your best option.

Complaints and grade disputes:  You should submit grade disputes in writing within one week of receiving the contested grade.  All other complaints are welcome during office hours or by email.