The Postcure and the Lecture Well: A Lover’s Discourse in Light of Barthes’ Late Pedagogy

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A reader's personal essay on and critical contribution to the retroactive understanding of A Lover's Discourse as a close formal and methodological predecessor to Roland Barthes's final three Collège de France lectures, especially the first of them, How to Live Together (1977). The essay tracks the ways that the “figures” of amorous discourse, Barthes's term for the stances and formulations that belong to and constitute the impassioned lover's subject position, anticipate the “traits” suggestive of the problem of living-together, as an individualist in a collective. It also marks the distinctions between the two projects, primarily in the latter the manifested objective of “désapprentisage,” or an unlearning, a “jamming” of the mission of the intellectual, which motivated his refusal thenceforth to repurpose any lecture as a book. Even as Barthes insisted on further differences between his two late subjects, a close “semioclasmic” analysis is brought to bear on a single “scene of language” that produced much that would be coded as figures and traits in the two studies, namely Barthes's letters written from the sanitoriums in which he spent his youth, letters issued at once lover to beloved and convalescent to outpatient in which he formulates both his estrangement in love and his flooded idiorrhythmy in communal living.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-177
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2023


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