Every history of theory is simultaneously a theory of history. Rajan and O'Driscoll's wide-ranging volume tackles the issue of providing an intellectual history of theory, given a considerable continuity between theory and the history of ideas, and also given theory's own questioning of traditional intellectual historical models. The editors address this challenge by providing thirteen essays on a variety of theorists from Derrida to Zizek. Under the paradigms of genealogy, performativity, physiology, and technology, the essayists explore metaphors for connecting the work of theorists from different times, that are drawn from areas other than history, and that can enrich and revise our understanding of the histories of theory.
Not only do these essays reflect the impact on writing about theory - and by extension on intellectual history - in areas such as psychoanalysis, philosophy, literature, and cultural studies, but they are also an exploration of theme and situation - the writing of intellectual history after the linguistic turn and the poststructuralist critique. Written for the theory specialists, as well as intellectual historians and those in the humanities and social sciences who are concerned with critical theory, the essays represent a re-evaluation of the current state of theory, as addressed by leading scholars in the field.