Jacques Rancière: Thinker of Dissensus
gabriel rockhill and philip watts
Jacques Rancière has written some of the most significant philosophic
work to be published in French in the last forty years. His corpus to date
extends well beyond traditional philosophic boundaries, and includes
engagements with the fields of history, politics, sociology, literary the-
ory, literary history, art, psychoanalysis, and film theory. Although he
has an explicit aversion to systematic philosophies, it is clear that he has
developed a unique and robust project that is helping reshape academic
disciplines and contemporary thought about the complex relationship
between politics and aesthetics.
If his reception in the English-speaking world has not kept apace with
his rise to prominence in France and other parts of the world, it is in
part due to the fact that his idiosyncratic work does not fit comfortably
within the dominant models of intellectual importation. Although he is
still sometimes mistakenly classified as a structuralist because of his
early contribution to Louis Althusser’s Lire le Capital (1965), his first
book was a virulent collection of essays upbraiding his former maître
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