This introductory chapter begins with a review of Jacques Derrida's academic career and writings. It then turns to the stealthy influence of the “counter” throughout Derrida's writings by considering three more or less “indicative” quotations drawn from texts produced at different times for different occasions: an interview with François Ewald first published in Magazine Littéraire in the early 1990s; a conversation with Maurizio Ferraris a little later in the 1990s; and a conference paper given at Cerisy in 2000 in honor of Jean Genet. The purpose in beginning with these quotations is less to advance a general thesis for this book, in terms of a “vision-statement” of the specific kind of counter-institution for which the contemporary moment calls, than it is simply to read these passages as or at just such an angle, perhaps all the better to see what angle the “counter-institution” makes with the university, and indeed the university with its “outside.” An overview of the subsequent chapters is presented.
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