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This article is taken from PN Review 103, Volume 21 Number 5, May - June 1995.

The Survival of Theory IV Raymond Tallis

A key element in the survival of theory has been the infiltration of new disciplines. We have seen how desperate critical theorists are to be useful in the wide world they despise from their great and abstract heights. Not content with being an all-pervading influence in the fields of polite (or no longer polite) scholarship, 'theorrhoea' has started to reach out towards the great outdoors beyond the library, the seminar room and the lecture hall. The results have been largely disappointing: phallo-gocentric western capitalism has remained stubbornly resistant to deturnescence and even more modest dreams of political influence have proved empty. There are not, so far as I know, any post-structuralist engineers or surgeons -though the day of their coming may not be far off. There are however already at least two striking instances of infiltration of theory beyond literary and cultural studies: the law and architecture. In this and the following article, I shall touch briefly on both, for they are illustrative of the ambitions and fatuity of theory.

The attempt to assimilate the law to post-Saussurean theory has generated an impressive and growing bibliography. At least two major journals are especially hospitable to papers which exhibit this approach to legal theory: Law and Society Review and The International Joumal of the Semiotics and Law: and the editors of many other law journals seem to look favourably upon Lacanian, Derridian, 'post-modern' etc. treatments. An international association for the study of semiotics and the law is now ...

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