1st Edition

Subjective Agency and Poststructuralism

Edited By Cillian Ó Fathaigh, Gavin Rae Copyright 2025
    216 Pages
    by Routledge

    Poststructuralism has long been acknowledged to offer a radical critique of the foundational subject as a precursor to affirming a constituted subject. Its detractors have however held that the resultant position cannot offer a coherent account of agency (strong version) or, alternatively, that while it may be able to account for non-subjective agency it is unable to develop a coherent explanation for subjective agency (weak version). Somewhat strangely, this issue has been largely ignored by commentators predisposed to poststructuralist thought. In contrast, this volume focuses on the works of Judith Butler, Cornelius Castoriadis, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Luce Irigaray, Jacques Lacan, and Catherine Malabou, to show that the question of the subject is a key one for many poststructuralist thinkers, that they are aware of the problematic status of agency that arises from their decentering of the foundational subject, and that they offer heterogeneous responses to it.

    Subjective Agency and Poststructuralism will therefore be an invaluable resource for researchers and advanced students interested in philosophy, political theory, psychoanalysis, critical theory, history of ideas, feminist theory, and cultural studies.

    Introduction: Agency and Poststructuralism Cillian Ó Fathaigh and Gavin Rae

    Part I: Ethics

    1. The Immanence of Desire: Subjectivity and Agency in Anti-Oedipus Sean Bowden

    2. Agency and the Imaginary: Lacan, Irigaray, Castoriadis Gavin Rae

    3. What Can Subjects Do? Judith Butler’s Notion of Agency Emma Ingala

    4. Reading Agency in Suspension: Derrida and the Undecideable Lisa Foran

    Part II: History and Aesthetics

    5. “Something Will Turn Up”: Why Derrida Remains Trapped in Modernity Sacha Golob

    6. What is an Event to a Subject? What is a Subject to an Event? Musical Folds Michael Székely

    Part III: Politics

    7. Foucault’s Agentive Discharge Luke Collison

    8. Political Plasticity: Catherine Malabou’s Anarchic Agents Cillian Ó Fathaigh


    Cillian Ó Fathaigh is Assistant Professor and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Fellow in Philosophy at the Jagiellonian University Krakow, Poland. He is the co-editor of Derrida’s Politics of Friendship (2022), and has been published in Angelaki, Philosophy and Social Criticism, Journal of Medicine & Philosophy, and Derrida Today.

    Gavin Rae is Associate Professor in the Department of Logic and Theoretical Philosophy at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain. His most recent books are Questioning Sexuality: From Psychoanalysis to Gender Theory and Beyond (2024) and Poststructuralist Agency (2020).