Haunting History
For a Deconstructive Approach to the Past
Ethan Kleinberg


§    Introduction

Like the ghost, this book is an interruption, a provocation, an unsettling of the orderly boundaries and lines by which we conventionally think about the relation between past and present and thus the way we “do” history. In it I conjure the specter of deconstruction to advocate for a reevaluation of these boundaries and our strategies for thinking and writing about the past. Deconstruction is a spirit that has haunted and frightened the historical profession, as we will see in Chapter 1, but, practically speaking, very few historians have attempted a serious engagement with Derrida or deconstruction for the practice of history. To my mind there are two main reasons for this: one that is inherent to current dominant historical practices and another that is announced explicitly as the reason deconstruction is inappropriate for the practice and writing of history.

The first reason is that most conventional historians are what I refer to as “ontological realists.” I define ontological realism as a commitment to history as an endeavor concerned with events assigned to a specific location in space and time that are in principle observable and as such are regarded as fixed and immutable. Here the historian accepts that there is a possibility for epistemological uncertainty about our understanding of a past event, but this is mitigated by the ontological certainty that the event happened in a certain way at a certain time. Central to this position is a commitment to empirical data that serve as something of a false floor to hold it. In the end, getting the past “right” is a question of historical method. We will explore the workings and repercussions of ontological realism in Chapter 3, but for the moment I want to point to a stronger and weaker variant of this position. The stronger variant adheres to the position that there is a past and we can have full access to it. To my mind, this is a position that no, or very few, working historians currently hold. Instead, it is the weaker variant that I wish to target, wherein the past is said to have an ontological reality that we can only approach from limited perspective and incompletely from our position in the present and thus with epistemological uncertainty about that which is ontologically certain. This latter, weaker variant, I argue, is the position that most conventional historians hold, but I also want to suggest that the stronger version is always at work unannounced in the weaker one.

The error of ontological realism is that it fails to recognize the limitations of our own historical horizons, the extent to which our personal perspective is determined and directed by our past. The current epistemological understanding of the past is taken to be the ontological reality of the past. It is this indifference to the epistemological understanding that allows one to take our historically contingent mode of understanding as indicative of a method that is universally valid for all time. And it is here that we can see the ways that the current attempted rapprochement between our historical methods and our historical condition is predicated on a misunderstanding of our current practices as contained within a permanently enduring present that fosters a similarly misconceived representation of a permanently enduring past.

But what holds the ontological certainty of the past event given the possibility of epistemological uncertainty in recounting that event? Most conventional historians either avoid or defer this question, working purely on the assumption that method is sufficient to bring the past into the present. But the past itself has no ontological properties, or if it does, it has a latent ontology; thus, the past event cannot be made present. Any reappearance is the untimely visitation of a ghost. This leads to a more troubling question about the category of ontology itself and specifically the ontology or hauntology of the past. Hauntology is a Derridean term that relies on the sonic affinity between ontology and hauntology that the concept of hauntology haunts by replacing (when spoken, ontologie and hontologie are indistinguishable in French). History, too, is a replacing of this sort where the past event or figure is silently determined by the telling that replaces it. But the telling in the present is haunted by the ghost of the past, which is neither present nor absent, neither here nor gone. This disjunction or disruption at the core of “history” exposes the ways that origins and grounds are always posited to determine the beginning from the point of view of the end, thus smuggling both a teleology and rigidity into the account. Conventional historians give the past event the ontological reality of a fixed and permanent object silently replacing the spectral status with a fleshly one, but the ontological properties of the past event are constructed by the historian in the present.

Here I want to make clear that I am not advocating for an understanding of history or the past as constructed whole cloth by the historian in the present. In this regard I am sympathetic to traditional disciplinary historical methods and to recent work by philosophers of history such as Frank Ankersmit, Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, Eelco Runia, and other proponents of the “presence” paradigm—especially regarding the latter’s investigation into the forceful way that the past presses on the present and touches us even if we cannot touch it. But I am also deeply critical of the presence model, as will become apparent in Chapter 2. Ironically, given that the thinkers of presence provide a forceful critique of conventional historical scholarship, their emphasis on the material presence of the past in the here and now is strangely similar to that of the ontological realist approach insofar as both are predicated on a logic of presence. To be sure, the ontological approach of these philosophers of history is a focus on our historical mode of being in the present, while the epistemological approach of those historians who emphasize the importance of method is a focus on ascertaining the reality of the past; each emphasizes what is present and not what is absent. Runia, Gumbrecht, and Ankersmit do so by arguing for the presence of the past in the present. Conventional historians do so by arguing for the enduring and recoverable presence of the past as past.

In what follows, I embrace Hayden White’s emphasis on language and the place of constructivism in the historical endeavor to critique such approaches, but I also cultivate aspects of the presence model as well. In this way the deconstructive approach to the past for which I advocate is neither a “realism” nor a “constructivism.” Instead, it operates with elements of the latter without giving up the claims of the former to insistently engage with the real. I do not mean this in the sense offered by proponents of speculative materialism, the “real” of the natural sciences, or the “real” of sense data. Instead, I look to Derrida to engage with and make explicit the perturbations that the past returned convokes. This opening onto the relation of presence and absence through a hauntological approach to history accounts for the entangled and unstable relation of presence and absence without privileging one over the other.

This leads me to the second reason for the conventional historian’s disdain or fear of deconstruction. Rather than confront the radical instability that deconstruction exposes, historians have typically dismissed it as counterproductive to, or incompatible with, the historical endeavor. For the historians Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt, and Margaret Jacob deconstruction denies “our ability to represent reality in any objectively true fashion”; thus, “in the final analysis there can be no postmodern history.”1 Other historians such as Richard Evans, Jerrold Seigel, Georg Iggers, and Keith Windschuttle concur.2 Joshua Kates argues that the justification for such a dismissal is a reading of Derrida and his project, exemplified by the 2001 Norton Anthology of Literary Theory and Criticism, which takes deconstruction’s “focus to be language, and sees it as arriving at what is essentially a new, more radical form of skepticism.”3 On this reading, the problem with “deconstruction” for the conventional historian is the overemphasis on language and the gap between words and the things they reference. If the signifier can never really reach the signified, so this logic goes, then there can be no meaning, and we descend into relativism. Following this reading, Jane Caplan concludes that “while deconstructive method may be borrowed by the historian for the interpretation of single texts, deconstruction as an epistemology is virtually incompatible with the historian’s enterprise.”4

But this is not the only reading of Derrida’s project and works. Kates and scholars such as Geoffrey Bennington, Peter Fenves, Rodolph Gasché, Dana Hollander, Michael Naas, and Edward Baring have each contested this understanding of Derrida and the project of deconstruction, pointing to Derrida’s sustained interest and engagement with the problem of “history” since his earliest work.5 This can be seen in Derrida’s published work such as his introduction to L’origine de la géométrie, by Edmund Husserl, of 1962; “Violence et métaphysique: Essai sur la pensée d’Emmanuel Levinas,” from 1964; “De la grammatologie” (I and II), from 1965 and 1966; and “Cogito et histoire de la folie,” from 1967.6 It can also be seen in his seminars, first at the Sorbonne in 1963–64, when, as an assistant, he taught the course “Histoire et vérité” (History and Truth) using his own syllabus and then as an instructor at the École normale supérieure in 1964–65, where he taught the course “Heidegger: La question de l’être et l’histoire” as part of the aggregation curriculum.7 The latter was recently published first in French in 2013 and then in English in 2016, leading Derrida scholars to revisit his early focus on history in relation to his later work.

But it is important to distinguish Derrida’s interest in the problem and understanding of history from the concerns of practicing historians. For the most part, Derrida’s interest in history was focused on the history of philosophy or the ways we operate as beings for whom our past, history, or traditions are part of our makeup. In the 1963–64 “Histoire et vérité” lectures he follows Hegel, using the term Geschichte to designate our historical condition as opposed to Historie, which designates the science of history.8 In his course “Heidegger: The Question of Being and History” of the following year he phrases the distinction following the language of Being and Time: “since there would be no historical science without the historicity of Dasein (no Historie without Geschichte), the hermeneutics that gives us to read or think the historicity of Dasein is the condition of possibility of hermeneutics as the method of historical science.”9 Here Derrida is clear to assert that the concerns of historians are of a derivative nature and predicated on our historical mode of being in the world. Derrida’s own concern is with the “history of being,” and he states, again working through Heidegger, “it is pointless to go to the historian qua historian and ask him what historicity [Geschichtlichkeit] is. The historian is the scholar who is already dealing with a delimited scientific field that is, precisely, called historical reality . . . , and the historian has an object he deals with and that he calls the historical object. But as to the origin and the condition of possibility of this field of objectivity, the historian qua historian, in his historical practice, can tell us nothing.”10 For Derrida it is pointless to turn to the historian to ask about the question of history because while the historian understands the field in which she or he works, she or he has not thought deeply about the grounds on which that field is constituted. Derrida indicts the ways that “history and the epistemology of history deal with the objective thematic face of science but they do not think to go definitively searching for the pre-scientific origin of science.”11 Thus, Derrida looks toward Heidegger to investigate the moment prior to the constitution of history as a field of scientific objectivity, and here one can see how the target of Derrida’s investigation expands beyond the realm of history as practiced by historians to the larger question of the prescientific origin of science. The point I want to emphasize is that while I think there is much to glean from Derrida’s critique of historians and historical practice, it is not the focus of his engagement, nor does he offer direct guidance about how his project might apply to the practice of history. This will be my task.

Philosophers of history of the nineteenth-century variety do not fare much better in Derrida’s early analysis because to his mind “the level of Weltgeschichte and the philosophy of history is that of the greatest naiveté since they both rely or at least claim to rely on a historical truth delivered by science. They are both certain that something like historical truth is possible, that an opening that gives us access to the historical past is possible, whatever the critical work one then proceeds to carry out on documents, signs, monuments, archives, and so on. The critical work presupposes the very thing it is trying to protect: namely, the possibility of historical truth.”12 These are the philosophical or theoretical coordinates that are employed by conventional historians to justify the ontological realist position, and we will confront these in Chapter 3. But earlier, Derrida identified a tension in the coordinates by which we conventionally designate the “truth” of “history” insofar as that if history is defined as the realm of change, and truth as the realm of the eternally same (as in Plato), then truth could not originate in history. Truth would have to preexist the world.13 The formulation is phrased as a philosophical exercise, and Derrida seeks to apply it to case studies such as mathematics, where something like geometry can be said to be “true” in the eternal sense, but also to have a historical origin even if the truth of geometry can be said to preexist it. But when this logic is cast back on more conventional subjects of history, it is also one that draws attention to the internal contradiction at work in ontological realism, where the instability of history as the realm of change is replaced by a sense of fixity as historical truth: the past event as it “really happened.” The danger of such a position is that it ascribes ideal ontological properties to the past that are silently assigned from the position of the present and then determined to be the criteria by which to adjudicate the fidelity of the historical account to the past event. This is why Derrida says that the critical work presupposes the very thing it is trying to protect.

Thus, Derrida advocates for a radical critique of history that takes issue with the suppositions of philosophers of history and historians alike and questions the very possibility of objective history and a stable past. Peter Fenves argues that “nothing is perhaps more daring in Derrida’s early writings than this reluctance to affirm that history is possible and that the philosophy of history—true to the tradition of transcendental argumentation inaugurated by Kant—need only ask about the conditions of its possibility.”14 For Derrida this limited question is insufficient because it leads to an understanding of history as a closed system insofar as the ontological realist presumes that the past is ontologically singular, clear, and recoverable so long as one has the right epistemological tools and methods at one’s disposal. This understanding of the past as singularly true restricts the possibilities of what we might understand the past to be or to have been. Instead, Derrida looks to reoccupy “the word ‘history’ in order to reinscribe its force and in order to produce another concept or conceptual chain of ‘history’: in effect a ‘monumental stratified, contradictory’ history; a history that also implies a new logic of repetition and the trace, for it is difficult to see how there could be history without it.”15 I will explore how such a contradictory history can be applied in Chapter 5, but, in brief, Derrida is asking us to rethink “history” in order to account for the ways that Historie (the historical sciences) presuppose Geschichte (our ways of taking up the past) and the resultant entanglement of past, present, and future. When history is written, it is made repeatable, but the repetition itself can become a part of another conceptual chain pulled out of the initial context. Geoffrey Bennington, argues that for Derrida “‘ideas’ always escape any given context, and in a way that breaks or bursts any semantic or hermeneutic horizon,” and that this should “unsettle our very understanding of what a library, an archive, archival research, or intellectual history might be.”16 Bennington provides the evocative example of an escaped tiger that needs to be put back in its cage before “mayhem ensues” as akin to the historian’s “stern or panic-stricken injunction to ‘put it back in its context’ without having the means to ask the question of how it got out” or what it was doing in a cage in the first place?17 It is the moment prior to the “putting in context” or “putting in the cage” that interests Derrida; therefore, rather than beginning with an orginary moment constructed in the present and based on the material assumption of a past “as it really happened,” he looks to a logic of the ghostly trace. But this interest and engagement in what one might call arche-history is a concern with a moment prior to what Derrida refers to as the science of history.18

As I have noted, this concern led Derrida to a sustained engagement with the history of philosophy and thinkers such as Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger, Foucault, and Levinas but rarely to one with practicing historians or specifically on the topic of history in that sense. For the most part historians serve the purpose of foil as in Aporias, where Phillipe Ariès, author of Western Attitudes Towards Death, is put forward to demonstrate the axiomatic nature of the historical endeavor.19 Derrida is concerned with the ways that Ariès, as a historian working on the topic of death, “knows, thinks he knows, or grants to himself the unquestioned knowledge of what death is, of what being-dead means; consequently, he grants to himself all the criteriology that will allow him to identify, recognize, or delimit the objects of his inquiry or the thematic field of his anthropological-historical knowledge. The question of the meaning of death and the word ‘death’ . . . and of knowing if death ‘is’—and what death ‘is’—all remain radically absent as questions.”20 We can see the critical engagement with what Derrida sees as the limitations of conventional history but also how the questions he asks, and seeks to answer, lead him away from an engagement with history in that sense.

One notable exception is Derrida’s Archive Fever.21 This book takes Sigmund Freud, the legacies of Judaism and psychoanalysis, and the status of the archive as its central focus, but what interests me here is the way this book is also a sustained engagement with the historian Yosef Yerushalmi and his own book, Freud’s Moses: Judaism Terminable and Interminable.22 It is worth noting that Derrida’s most substantive interaction with disciplinary historians revolves around those historians’ explicit references to the dead, as we saw with Phillipe Ariès. In the case of Yerushalmi, what draws Derrida’s attention is the historian’s encounter with the ghost of Freud, for this is the place in Yerushalmi’s work where the norms, procedures, and boundaries of traditional historical practices break down. In this portion of the book, Yerushalmi the historian breaks with scholarly convention to engage in an exchange with Freud by means of a letter addressed to the dead father of psychoanalysis, “in truth Freud’s ghost.”23 Derrida notes that “these thirty-odd pages” are to be classed as fiction, “which would already be a break with the language that has dominated up to this point in the book, that is, the discourse of scholarship, the discourse of a historian, of a philologist, of an expert on the history of Judaism, of a biblical scholar, as they say, claiming to speak in all objectivity.”24 But the fictional quality of this intervention has another originality: “the apostrophe is addressed to a dead person, to the historian’s object become spectral subject, the virtual addressee or interlocutor of a sort of open letter.”25 It is this blurring of the lines between “fact” and “fiction,” between the living and the dead, between past and present, between presence and absence that interests Derrida and that I will take up in the chapters that follow.

Derrida sees Yerushalmi’s rhetorical move, the apostrophe to Freud, as a “gesture incompatible in principle with the norms of classical scientific scholarship, in particular with those of history or of philology which had presided over the same book up to this point.”26 Derrida later elaborates:

Up to this point, in any case up to the fictive monologue, Yerushalmi had measured his discourse—for the bulk of what, in theory, was shown and demonstrated—on the classical norms of knowledge, of scholarship, and of epistemology which dominate in every scientific community: here, the objectivity of the historian, of the archivist, of the sociologist, of the philologist, the reference to stable themes and concepts, the relative exteriority in relation to the object, particularly in relation to an archive determined as already given, in the past or in any case only incomplete, determinable and thus terminable in a future itself determinable as future present, domination of the constative over the performative, etc.27

There are several issues to be taken up here and that I will address over the course of this book. First, the place where conventional or scientific history breaks down is the place of the ghost—of haunting and of hauntology. Second, the openness and incompleteness of the archive leaves open to the future the determination of the past as “history.” Every archive is necessarily incomplete, and any addition to it in the future changes the past. Third, and in response to the second, conventional historians tend to operate as if the archive were already complete or in the realm of a future completeness to come that sanctions the archive’s authority even as they acknowledge its incompleteness in the present. “Yes, we know there is more to come that may change our understanding of the past; nevertheless, we operate as if it is complete and thus can scientifically verify what we know of the past in the present.”

Past events are brought “back” to the present through the work of the historian, but other aspects of the past haunt us, our archives, and the very history to which we cling. These are the ghosts of things forgotten, buried, or erased from the record being rigorously researched by traditional historians and that so often support dominant ideologies. But, to modify a question Derrida asks, how does one prove in general an absence of archive, if not relying on classical norms (presence/absence of literal and explicit reference to this or to that, to a this or a that which one supposes to be identical to themselves, and simply absent, actually absent, if they are not simply present, actually present, how can one not, and why not, take into account the radically absent archives of a past unaccounted for but nevertheless 28 How can we account for the missing portions of the past without simply assuming them to be the missing part of a larger whole whose properties and scope we have already determined? On my account, the haunting or the ghost allows for the presence of this absence without predetermining the “what” of what the ghost or haunting is, without supposing it to be something known and determinable but simply absent. This is what I will refer to as the past that is (present and absent). I develop this concept in Chapter 5, but here I want to note that I place a bar across the “is,” both striking it out and indicating an obstruction that restricts access.

In Yerushalmi’s work the insertion of the ghost of Freud comes after the historical work has been done and the record has been shown. The case is closed and Yerushalmi has provided all the historical evidence to reach some conclusion regarding Freud and his relationship to his Jewish identity. Even so, Yerushalmi conjures the ghost to seek answers to the questions that continue to haunt him and disturb the historical account previously presented. The excess or surplus of the past that had been restricted or excised from the historical account returns in Yerushalmi’s book in ways that suspend “all the axiomatic assurances, norms, and rules which had served him until now in organizing the scientific work, notably historiographic criticism, and in particular its relationship to the known and unknown archive.”29 All archives are haunted this way because their structure is spectral, “spectral a priori: neither present nor absent ‘in the flesh,’ neither visible nor invisible, a trace always referring to another whose eyes can never be met, no more than those of Hamlet’s father, thanks to the possibility of a visor.”30 The visor can be read as the bar that blocks and restricts access to the past event: to the past that Thus when confronted with this haunting, Yerushalmi the historian dares “to cross a limit before which ‘ordinary historians’ have always been intimidated.”31 Yerushalmi is uncomfortable with this transgression that at first glance appears to come at the joint between truth and fiction, but as Derrida tells us, “The last chapter, the most fictive, is certainly not the least true.”32 I will explore the relations between “truth” and “fiction,” between “evidence” and “imagination” throughout this book, but for the moment I want to focus on the transgression of borders, limits, and disciplines at work here. In his book Yerushalmi reveals the limits of conventional history and the ontological realist understanding of the past. These are limits before which “ordinary historians” have always been intimidated but that a deconstructive approach to the past can cross and transgress to locate fractures, disturb remains, and promote alternative arrangements.

In Chapter 1, “Haunting History,” I provide an intellectual history of the reception of deconstruction in the American historical profession by means of a ghost story. I see deconstruction as akin to the ghost because while it has been repeatedly targeted in attacks against the dangers of postmodernism, poststructuralism, or the “linguistic turn,” very few historians actively use deconstruction as a historical methodology; in this regard the target has always been a phantom. But it is also akin to the ghost because of the ways that deconstruction itself haunts disciplinary history, exposing the axiomatic assumptions of conventional historians and revealing the complex nature of our relationship with the past. In Chapter 2, “Presence in Absentia,” I deploy the Ghost of Christmas Present from Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol to explore the recent trend in philosophy of history known as “presence.” Here I work through texts by Eelco Runia, Hans-Ulrich Gumbrecht, and Frank Ankersmit to show the limitations of this model and its affinities to conventional ontological realist history. In Chapter 3, “Chladenius, Droysen, and Dilthey: Back to Where We’ve Never Been,” I look to the German historicist tradition and the figures of Johann Martin Chladenius (1710–59), Johann Gustav Droysen (1808–84), and Wilhelm Dilthey (1833–1911) to determine its relation to “ontological realism” and to expose the limitations of that model in our current intellectual milieu. But I also suggest that a closer look at these three thinkers sheds light on the utility of deconstruction for the project of history as well as the possibility of a hauntological historical approach to the past that is guided by, though not beholden to, Derrida. In Chapter 4, “The Analog Ceiling,” I build on the previous three chapters to argue that the dominance of ontological realism in the historical profession is no longer justifiable based on our current understanding of the past but is supported by our current scholarly publishing practices, what I refer to as the “analog ceiling.” The ceiling metaphor functions because it allows one to argue that even though the past may not really correlate to the narrative reconstructions of ontological realism, this form is nevertheless the best analogy to make the past intelligible, understandable, and comprehensible. To counter this model, I look to current innovations in digital scholarship and the ways that a deconstructive approach to the past enables us to innovate and reimagine how history can be done. In this regard my book is a gamble that academic research and publishing as we know it are changing and will continue to change in ways that will alter how we think about the past, how we write about the past, and as a result the discipline of history. In my final chapter, “The Past That Is,” I conclude by offering my deconstructive approach to the past as a theory of and practice for history. Using Washington Irving’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow, I explicate how a hauntological approach to history that embraces the past that In his discussion of Yerushalmi and the ghost of Freud, Derrida is careful to articulate that “Freud did everything possible not to neglect the experience of haunting, spectrality, phantoms, ghosts. He tried to account for them. Courageously, in as scientific, critical, and positive a fashion as possible. But by doing that, he also tried to conjure them.”33 I would argue that this is also an apt description of the historian’s attempt to account for the past in as scientific, critical, and positive fashion as possible. But just as Freud and Yerushalmi ended up conjuring ghosts they ultimately could not control, so, too, does the historian. What is more, I would suggest that this scientific conjuring is an attempt to restrict and limit the unruly past, and in this sense it is another attempt to put the “tiger back in the cage.” In this book I want to let the ghosts out.


1. Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt, and Margaret Jacob, Telling the Truth About History (New York: Norton, 1994), 208, 237.

2. Keith Windschuttle, The Killing of History: How Literary Critics and Social Theorists Are Murdering Our Past (New York: Free Press, 1996); Richard J. Evans’s In Defense of History (New York: Norton, 1997); Georg Iggers, Historiography in the Twentieth Century: From Scientific Objectivity to the Postmodern Challenge (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1997); Jerrold Seigel, “Problematizing the Self,” in Beyond the Cultural Turn: New Directions in the Study of Society and Culture, ed. Victoria E. Bonnell and Lynn Hunt (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), 281–314.

3. Joshua Kates, Essential History: Jacques Derrida and the Development of Deconstruction (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2005), xv.

4. Jane Caplan, “Postmodernism, Poststructuralism, and Deconstruction: Notes for Historians,” Central European History 22, no. 3/4 (1989): 260–78, 270.

5. Geoffrey Bennington, “Derrida’s Archive,” Theory, Culture & Society 31, no. 7/8 (2014): 111–19; Edward Baring, “Ne me raconte plus d’histoires: Derrida and the Problem of the History of Philosophy,” History and Theory 53 (May 2014): 175–93; Peter Fenves, “Derrida and History: Some Questions Derrida Pursues in His Early Writings,” in Jacques Derrida and the Humanities: A Critical Reader, ed. Tom Cohen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 271–95; Dana Hollander, Exemplarity and Chosenness: Rosenzweig and Derrida on the Nation of Philosophy (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008); Michael Naas, “Violence and Historicity: Derrida’s Early Readings of Heidegger,” Research in Phenomenology 45, no. 2 (2015): 191–213.

6. Jacques Derrida, introduction to L’origine de la géométrie, by Edmund Husserl, trans. Jacques Derrida (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1962); “Violence et métaphysique: Essai sur la pensée d’Emmanuel Levinas,” Revue de métaphysique et de morale, nos. 3–4 (1964): 425–73; “De la grammatologie,” Critique 21, no. 223 (1965): 1016–42; “De la grammatologie (II),” Critique 22, no. 224 (1966): 23–53; “Cogito et histoire de la folie,” in L’écriture et la difference (Paris: Seuil, 1967): 51–97.

7. Jacques Derrida, “Histoire et vérité,” Irvine Special Collections and Archives, Jacques Derrida papers (MS-C001) (hereafter JDP); Jacques Derrida, Heidegger: The Question of Being and History, trans. Geoffrey Bennington (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016).

8. Derrida, “Histoire et vérité,” JDP, Box 8, Folder 10, sheets 3–4. For a full analysis of these lectures see Baring, “Ne me raconte plus d’histoires.” I want to thank Ed Baring for sharing with me his transcription of the lecture notes.

9. Derrida, Heidegger, 80.

10. Ibid., 94.

11. Ibid.

12. Ibid., 95.

13. Derrida, “Histoire et vérité,” JDP, Box 8, Folder 9, sheet 22.

14. Fenves, “Derrida and History,” 296.

15. Jacques Derrida, Positions, trans. Alan Bass, 2nd ed. (New York: Continuum, 2002), 57; originally published as Positions (Paris: Minuit, 1972). Page citations refer to the English translation.

16. Bennington, “Derrida’s Archive,” 111–12.

17. Ibid., 112.

18. See Baring, “Ne me raconte plus d’histoires,” 191.

19. Jacques Derrida, Aporias, trans. Thomas Dutoit (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993); Philippe Ariès, Western Attitudes Towards Death: From the Middle Ages to the Present (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974).

20. Derrida, Aporias, 25.

21. Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression, trans. Eric Prenowitz (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996); originally published as Mal d’archive (Paris: Galilée, 1995). Page citations refer to the English translation.

22. Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, Freud’s Moses: Judaism Terminable and Interminable (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1991).

23. Derrida, Archive Fever, 38.

24. Ibid., 39.

25. Ibid., 39–40.

26. Ibid., 41.

27. Ibid., 51.

28. Ibid., 64. The original reads: “how does one prove in general an absence of archive, if not relying on classical norms (presence/absence of literal and explicit reference to this or to that, to a this or a that which one supposes to be identical to themselves, and simply absent, actually absent, if they are not simply present, actually present, how can one not, and why not, take into account unconscious, and more generally virtual archives)?”

29. Derrida, Archive Fever, 52.

30. Ibid., 84.

31. Ibid., 60.

32. Ibid., 59.

33. Ibid., 85.